Banking & Finance and Real Estate

Huntington Bank will anchor Trust Building

The bank is moving its regional offices a couple of blocks in downtown Grand Rapids.

November 3, 2014
| By Pete Daly |
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Trust Building
The historic Trust Building, which over the years has been home to some of the city’s marquee businesses, will be the new regional headquarters for Huntington Bank next year. Courtesy CWD

Huntington Bank has announced it is moving its West Michigan regional headquarters to CWD Real Estate Investment's historic Trust Building at the southeast corner of Pearl and Ottawa in downtown Grand Rapids.

The move is only about two blocks, from 50 Ottawa Ave. NW, which is also owned by CWD.

The bank will make the move in the second half of 2015, becoming the anchor tenant in the Trust Building. Plans also call for a Huntington branch to be opened on the ground floor. A Bank of America branch is located there now but is scheduled to close this year, according to an advisory Bank of America sent to its customers several months ago.

John Irwin, president of Huntington’s West Michigan region, said the bank will occupy 30,000 square feet in the building. Its new regional management offices will be on two floors, housing about 120 employees out of a total of about 1,100 Huntington Bank employees in its West Michigan region.

“Huntington’s ongoing investment in downtown Grand Rapids reflects our commitment to the city” said Irwin, adding they are “looking forward to making the Michigan Trust Building our new home. We are confident that as the building’s new anchor, we will help assert its reputation as one of the finest business addresses downtown and honor its status as a landmark workplace for more than 120 years.”

Irwin said Huntington Bank decided to move from 50 Monroe because that building is “tired.”

Completed in 1891 and designed by Solon S. Beman — the architect of many Chicago landmark buildings — the Trust Building was at one time the tallest building in the state and Grand Rapids’ first skyscraper. Future president Theodore Roosevelt made a speech there during his campaign in 1900 for the vice presidency, and it was the home of Gerald R. Ford’s first law office. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Huntington’s decision to move into the Trust Building “really cements it as the office address downtown,” said CWD Real Estate managing partner Sam Cummings, and he offered high praise for “Huntington’s commitment to the core of downtown Grand Rapids, and making our city the place to work, live and be entertained in our region.”

CWD bought the Trust Building in December 2012 from out-of-town owners after it had gone into foreclosure, through a business entity called 40 Pearl Street LLC. Cummings did not disclose what CWD paid for the Trust Building, but he indicated it was more than $3 million.

CWD has since invested $3 million in renovating the Trust Building. In 2013, the Downtown Development Authority awarded CWD a $50,000 building reuse grant, a $35,000 areaway grant for work on and under sidewalks around the building, and up to $236,500 in development support for streetscape improvements outside the building.

Irwin said Huntington Bank’s move to the Trust Building “allows us to be part of a revitalized block with great visibility.”

Cummings said the building now is about 65 percent occupied; with Huntington, it will be closer to 80 percent. It has 120,000 square feet of space in 10 stories.

“I applaud Huntington and CWD Real Estate for working together on this creative investment in downtown,” said Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell. “Huntington’s relocation enhances its downtown employment base and opens up opportunities for the repurposing of 50 Monroe. It is outstanding to have a local workforce so committed to downtown. I am sure Huntington’s commitment to the Michigan Trust Building will have residents thinking of it as Huntington’s home as soon as the move is complete.”

“Huntington is an important partner that understands how ongoing revitalization downtown is building critical momentum for the street-by-street revitalization of Grand Rapids’ core,” said Cummings. “CWD is very pleased to continue working with Huntington as the company and its people collaborate with us to create a working environment for the future that contributes to downtown’s growth.”

CWD has not yet filed a property transfer affidavit on the Trust Building with the Grand Rapids assessor’s office, which is required to state the purchase price, but City Assessor Scott Engerson said the 2013 assessed value of the Trust Building was $3,971,700, indicating its estimated actual market value is nearly $8 million.

According to the CWD Real Estate Investment website, the firm owns or controls at least nine or 10 buildings in Grand Rapids, including several in the downtown area such as the Ledyard Building at 125 Ottawa Ave. NW, the PNC Bank Building on the corner of Pearl and Monroe, the CWD Building at 50 Louis St. NW, 200 Ottawa Ave. and 300 Ottawa Ave. CWD also has commercial properties in Walker, Holland, Zeeland and Muskegon.

Huntington said its planned move to the Trust Building comes at a time of the bank’s continuing growth in Michigan. That was marked by its placement of branches inside Meijer stores, which began in 2012 and has resulted in approximately 40 new branch locations across the state.

Early this year Huntington announced it was acquiring 24 Bank of America branches in Michigan, including in Holland, Muskegon, Flint, Monroe and Saginaw.

Huntington also has exceeded a $2 billion commercial and small business lending goal it set with Michigan economic development officials in 2011, ahead of its scheduled commitment deadline. In September, Eric Seifert of the Small Business Development Center at GVSU said Huntington Bank has led the state for several years in SBA loans “by a huge lead.”

Huntington Bancshares Inc. is a $64 billion regional bank holding company headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. Founded in 1866 as Huntington National Bank, it provides commercial, small business and consumer banking; mortgage banking services; treasury management and foreign exchange services; equipment leasing; wealth and investment management services; trust services; brokerage services; customized insurance brokerage and service programs; and other financial services.

Through a relationship with automotive dealerships, it provides commercial services to the dealerships and automobile financing for their customers.

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