Metro Council Seeking New Office Outlet

August 13, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — The Grand Valley Metro Council is looking for new office space because its current location is becoming too expensive.

The council has been camped out on the fourth floor of the Trust Building at 40 Pearl St. NW for years. But the regional planning agency is suffering from a severe case of “crane pain” and is likely to leave the building when its lease runs out at the end of next year.

“We like it downtown. But all the construction is driving up the rents downtown,” said GVMC Executive Director Don Stypula.

“It’s a good thing,” he said of the cranes that have hovered over the Central Business District for the past few years. “But we’re a public corporation.”

In the coming fiscal year, the Metro Council will make rent payments of $63,150 for the administration, transportation and land-use planning departments. Back two fiscal years ago when the cranes first started rising over downtown, rent for those divisions totaled $59,141.

When the geographic information department is included in the mix, Stypula said the rent will approach $100,000 next year. The council’s current lease calls for an annual hike of five percent. GVMC has 13 full-time employees.

Stypula said the Metro Council leases 7,500 square feet at about $14 a square foot, a price he expects could go up by as much as $1.50 a square foot when the lease expires at the end of 2008.

In addition, Stypula said the council’s space will be measured from the outside walls for the next lease agreement. The current lease calculates that space from the inside walls. Using the outside walls as the standard increases the square footage and raises the overall rental payment.

Stypula told board members that he is talking with a broker about finding a larger space that costs less and has free parking.

“Next to salaries and benefits, rent is our biggest cost,” he said.

Total expenditures for the Metro Council next year are expected to reach $1.94 million, while revenues should top $1.98 million and give the agency a surplus of $45,376 for FY08. The projected expenses and revenues for next year are higher than what is budgeted for this year, but the surplus isn’t. The council expects to end FY07 with a surplus of $77,000.

Council members agreed to join the Kent County investment pool, a move that should provide the agency with more interest income. The return on the county’s pool usually runs about 5 percent, a higher yield than the transfer the council gets from its sweep account.

“That, by far, is our best option,” said Stypula.

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