Focus and Real Estate

Bridgewater Place on the rebound with Spectrum’s relocation

The office building seems to have turned the corner, following the financial crash in 2008.

February 1, 2013
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Bridgewater Place on the rebound with Spectrum's relocation
New owners and a new tenant have the city's largest office tower, Bridgewater Place, heading toward a brighter future.
When Colliers International of West Michigan took over the marketing of Bridgewater Place in spring 2011, the city’s largest office address had about 100,000 square feet of vacant space, following DTE Energy’s departure about five years ago.

Since it came aboard, Colliers International has filled more than 40,000 square feet of the blue tower overlooking the Grand River. The city’s office jewel, which opened in 1993, has become a player again since Spectrum Health became its newest tenant and a California investment group became its newest owner.

The region’s largest health care provider will move its human resources department into the structure’s entire third floor and a portion of the fourth in March, with plans to expand on the fourth. Spectrum will occupy about 39,000 square feet in Bridgewater once the move is completed.

“They’re already looking to expand on the fourth floor,” said David Wiener, an associate at Colliers International, who markets the downtown office sectors for the firm.

Colliers International began leasing the 17-story structure at 333 Bridge St. NW after the McKinley Group of Ann Arbor hired the firm. McKinley represents the building’s owner, GMAC Commercial Mortgage Securities Inc., which bought the building in a mortgage foreclosure sale for $34 million, the amount left on the mortgage two years ago. GMAC had financed the previous owners’ mortgage.

Now GMAC is selling the structure to the Hertz Investment Group of Santa Monica, Calif., a deal Colliers International did with Rockwood Real Estate. The sale is expected to close in about a month.

“We’ve been very fortunate in that we’ve had great activity. In the last year, we’ve been able to have New York Life more than double its square footage in the building, and then Willis Insurance took a nice piece in the building,” said Wiener.

“With Spectrum taking almost 39,000 square feet, it’s just been fantastic activity in the building. The building now is up to 70 percent occupied, and we hope in the next six to 12 months to get that up over 80 percent,” he added.

Bridgewater Place, a Class A office structure, has a total of 410,000 square feet, of which 390,000 is leasable square footage. Other prominent tenants are Varnum; Law, Weathers and Richardson; Prangley Marks; UBS; Signature Associates; PriceWaterhouseCoopers; Robert Baird; and Plunkett and Cooney.

Wiener said Colliers International has a track record of working closely with Spectrum to determine the provider’s real estate needs, which he said were many due to its size. But in this case, the need was strictly for office space.

One reason Wiener said the deal came about is Spectrum wants to support downtown. A second reason is many of the provider’s holdings are located a half-dozen blocks east of Bridgewater on the Michigan Street hill.

“The location of the building makes a lot of sense for them. We used to call it the ‘Medical Mile.’ Maybe now we’ll say the ‘Medical Mile and a quarter,’” he said.

“So it fits really well for them. And there are very few buildings, specifically in downtown, where you can get a 30,000-square-foot floor plate.”

The McKinley Group is Bridgewater’s property manager, while CW Capital manages the structure’s assets and works directly with Colliers International.

Not only is Bridgewater back in the office market in a big way, Wiener said it’s now in a position to find new tenants other than offices.

“That will help us attract restaurants and retail. The deli restaurant in the building is already seeing increased activity because Spectrum is holding training in the building,” he said. “It’s amazing up there. The progress is neat to watch.”

Pioneer Construction is managing the Spectrum build-out.

“That floor had been vacant since DTE (Energy) moved out. The floor, itself, obviously has gorgeous views, but it’s dated,” said Wiener. “So they are doing a lot of open-floor plans, and that doesn’t entail as much construction. But then there are training rooms, offices and everything, so it’s a full build-out.”

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