Metro Council moves to Riverview building

April 13, 2009
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Relocating to a new office suite doesn’t often give someone an opportunity to say what Executive Director Don Stypula recently said about Grand Valley Metro Council’s move to the Riverview Center, especially the week when 1040 returns are due.

“We need to have some walls come down in what was the IRS space.”

The Metro Council has signed a 10-year lease to occupy about 8,000 square feet of the second-floor suite in the office building at 678 Front St. NW, the former site of the Internal Revenue Service. The lease signing culminated what Stypula said was an 18-month journey by the regional planning agency to find a new home — one that would save the council money on rent and parking.

“We have accomplished both,” he said.

Stypula said the savings amount to $463,246 over the life of the lease: $154,906 in rent for 10 years and a whopping $308,340 in parking costs, as the lease gives the Metro Council at least 25 free parking spaces near the building. GVMC also gets an allowance of $140,000 to make upgrades to the suite. The monthly rent runs from $7,423, or $10.07 per square foot, for the first year, to $10,198, or $13.83 a foot, in the 10th year.

“I commend the staff for putting together something that saved money. But I’m leery of long-term leases in this economy,” said Michael DeVries, supervisor of Grand Rapids Township.

Plainfield Township Supervisor George Meek pointed out that the contract allows the council to vacate the site after four years with a six-month notice. Stypula noted that the council’s longtime lease at the Trust Building didn’t contain an escape clause.

“I do confess I wish those were better terms. But over the long run, we will be saving a lot of money,” he said. “You won’t see fancy furniture or new furniture there. We will be sensitive to our economic condition.”

Stypula said Mark Post of Post Associates designed the council’s new suite, a design that turns much of the old IRS space into a reception area. He also said the new space will offer better chances for departments to collaborate because it is free of the physical barrier the agency had in the Trust Building, where two doors and a public hallway separated the land use and transportation divisions.

“Getting into a space with more windows and open space should increase productivity and make people want to come to work,” said Gaines Township Supervisor Don Hilton.

The agency hopes to be moved in by July 1. Stypula said Pete Mason from Waters Realty and Development worked diligently with the council to create the lease agreement.

“We weren’t just thinking outside of the box,” he said. “There was no box. We can’t have a box.”

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