Focus, Construction, and Real Estate

Contractor prepares spec industrial center on Broadmoor Avenue

A.J. Veneklasen envisions 262,000 square feet of space in $15M project.

May 1, 2015
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For anyone thinking the availability of speculative industrial space in Grand Rapids is long gone, think again.

A major industrial center is coming to a 17-acre site of vacant cornfield located at 5300 Broadmoor Ave. SE.

A.J. Veneklasen Inc., a Grand Rapids-based full-service general contractor and builder, broke ground in March on an approximately 262,000-square-foot, multi-building, multi-phase speculative industrial development.

Veneklasen is the lead developer and contractor on the sizable new project, as well as a part owner of the development through Broadmoor Ventures LLC, said Chris Veneklasen, president of the firm.

Andrus Architecture, located in Rockford, is the project’s architect and designer.

John Kuiper and Steve Marcusse of Colliers International West Michigan are the listing brokers on the project.

“From a completion standpoint, of course, it’s dependent on the market, but based on the positive feedback, we’re probably looking at a three-year build-out,” Veneklasen said.

“We have a number of interested parties but no one has signed a lease yet. … I know The Right Place program has been fielding a lot of calls for people wanting (space).”

The development is being constructed in phases and when completed will include more than 360 parking spaces, Veneklasen said.

The first phase, now underway, involves the construction of a 50,000-square-foot building with parking for approximately 70 vehicles. This first building, which will cost about $2.8 million, is expected to be completed this July, he said.

“It’s being built with 100 percent pre-cast walls with 24-foot clear heights, 50-by-50 column spacing and ESFR (early suppression fast response) fire protection,” he said.

“The building will (be) good from an insulation factor, performing well from a heating and cooling standpoint because of the pre-cast walls … so it’s energy efficient, as well.”

The remaining phases of the industrial center will depend on what future tenants require, Veneklasen said.

The current plan is to have two larger buildings made up of smaller buildings built over time. If a buyer came along and needed a larger building right away, however, that phased approach would be eliminated to immediately create a single major building, he said.

“Currently, there’s (a) two-building design that would total the about 262,000 square feet or so. Based on some interest we’ve seen, that could change because some interested entities want their own identity. At this phase, we’re doing the first building at 50,000 square feet in chunks,” he said.

“This building is designed to be able to have an addition of another 100,000 square feet. If you picture three 50,000-square-foot boxes, that’s how this first building is set up, so the total building will eventually be about 150,000 square feet.”

The full project cost, which figures in all the phases, would be about $15 million, Veneklasen said, adding that the site could offer 300 or more jobs.

Although the team is currently figuring out a name for the industrial site, he’s calling it “5300 Broadmoor” for the time being, he said.

Regardless of what its official name is in the end, the development marks an important step in the development of Broadmoor Avenue, he said, because it brings something the area hasn’t had before: speculative industrial space.

“This will be a first of its kind in the area because it represents speculative industrial space,” Veneklasen said. “It certainly is an endorsement of the industrial marketplace. There really hasn’t been that many spec industrial projects out there lately.”

There are other reasons the site works so well to house a major spec industrial space, Veneklasen said. It offers an affordable pricing structure, he said, and that is important for local or national businesses looking for better facilities.

Additionally, the location of the center puts it in close proximity to M-6, I-96 and the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

All these factors make a difference in a market that’s significantly changed, he said.

“I think the market in general has shifted to where the industrial market needs more,” he said.

“In the 1990s, it was a ‘shade and shelter’ mentality — just give me a roof over my head. But today people are making more use of their cube space, trying to find more ways (to be efficient).”

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