Real Estate and Small Business & Startups

Class A building is little oasis in the ‘sea of suburbia’

Ski-lodge-like office building calls East Beltline home.

January 29, 2016
| By Pat Evans |
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Brennan Family Dentistry
The “ski resort” concept hasn’t caught on among office buildings, but tenants are happy with the East Beltline space. Courtesy Brennan Famiy Dentistry

As James and Gwen Brennan were thinking about moving his Brennan Family Dentistry business out of downtown Grand Rapids, they went skiing in Colorado.

Skiing past a house under construction in the town of Beaver Creek, Gwen Brennan stopped and talked to the construction workers. The big logs that made up the log-cabin-style house intrigued her.

“Where did you get the logs?” she asked, assuming they were from Colorado.

“No, no,” the workers replied. “Colorado protects our trees. These trees all came from Michigan.”

As she pondered those words, she realized the rustic look of a log cabin could be replicated in Michigan — as an office building.

“We loved that comfortable feeling,” she said. “Why can’t we have our trees stay back here in Michigan and keep them local? It’s that Michigan pride.”

James Brennan had outgrown his dentist office space in downtown, and the couple realized the East Beltline and Knapp area might be a good location for a new office building. It was the early 2000s: Forest Hills Eastern High School and Celebration Cinema North were being built, and they felt the demand for a dentist in the neighborhood would be there.

The immediate area was still relatively undeveloped, except for the movie theater and the nearby Knapps Corner Meijer store. They decided to build a ski-lodge-type Class A office building on a new street they helped name: Peregrine Point.

The building, which houses several businesses, stands out as a unique design, and several of the tenants have been there nearly since it opened, including Mass Mutual and Wells Fargo.

“The area was up and coming,” James Brennan said. “It still is. It’s been nothing but growth, and it was headed that way at the time. We liked the idea of developing a building and creating our own brand.”

James Brennan was concerned some of his patients might not make the move, but they all did, and the practice gained new patients and grew significantly, he said.

“As long as we’ve been here, we still get complimented,” Gwen Brennan said. “They’re relaxed in this atmosphere. Whether you’re getting your teeth cleaned or signing a mortgage, you’re more relaxed in this building.”

The Brennans had hoped the log-cabin-like building would catch on and more buildings like it would pop up around them.

Now, however, many of the newer developments nearby are national chains.

While a bit disappointed their concept for a “ski resort” commercial area hasn’t come to fruition, the Brennans are still happy with all the development that they knew would come.

“It’s been nice to see this build up with all the types of businesses, and especially restaurants,” James Brennan said. “We were hopeful this concept was a bit contagious, but we’re happy with all the development.

“We’ve just made sure our landscaping has held true and goes along with our little oasis here in the sea of suburbia.”

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