LMCU Moves To East Paris

September 2, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS — Lake Michigan Credit Union has made a deposit on a new location.

The region’s largest credit union recently bought a 48,000-square-foot office building on 3.37 acres at Lake Drive and East Paris Avenue.

LMCU will soon move its administrative team from its old digs at 3809 Lake Eastbrook Blvd. SE to its new building at 4027 Lake Drive SE.

“We have outgrown our current facility for our corporate offices,” said Jerri Schmidt, marketing director for LMCU.

“We have a need to expand our mortgage services and a few other things,” she added. “We’re out of space here, so we have been looking for a new facility for quite some time.

“The new location isn’t far from where we are, but space-wise I’d venture it’s almost double the size of what we currently have.”

The credit union plans to take over most of the building, if not all of it. Two other tenants — an orthodontist and AT&T Wireless — lease space in the structure. But AT&T has vacated the building and may be willing to buy out of its lease and give the credit union more space.

“There are some current lessees and I’m not sure if they will remain in the building or not. I don’t think that has actually been determined yet,” Schmidt said. “Once negotiations are through there, we will determine whether they will stay or not.”

Schmidt also told the Business Journal that LMCU is considering building a branch with a drive-thru ATM at its new location, and for a good reason.

“Spectrum Health has a number of buildings behind there, as well. Some of their facilities people and a number of their health services are back in the new buildings and their medical center is there, up toward Cascade,” said Schmidt. “So, being the former health care credit union, we’re going to be in a good area for a lot of those members.”

If the credit union goes ahead with that plan, the new branch office would be the 14th that LMCU has in metro Grand Rapids. The credit union also has branches in Caledonia, Grand Haven and Holland.

Schmidt said LMCU wouldn’t close a branch if a new one opens at its corporate site. The branch office nearest its new location is a mile away at 3810 Sparks Drive SE, and it happens to be the credit union’s most active office for all transactions, including mortgages..

Low interest rates are one reason the credit union’s mortgage business has increased.

Another is LMCU has sped up its application process and made it more convenient for its members by putting much of it online at www.lmuc.org.

In addition, Schmidt said the credit union services every mortgage for the life of a loan — a feature she said members appreciate.

Lake Michigan had 91,576 members and $786.7 million in assets at the end of June.

The credit union’s move to East Paris is typical of the activity going on in that popular office district.

Scott Morgan, a vice president and an office specialist with Grubb & Ellis/ Paramount, said a number of firms want to own their buildings today because of low interest rates and because they believe buying property is a better investment than buying stocks.

Morgan said smaller parcels — like an acre or so in size — are the hottest commodity in the suburban office market right now, but are the most difficult to find.

He also said activity was picking up in the East Paris, East Beltline and Cascade markets, all on the metro’s southeast side.

“We’re seeing a lot of activity on East Paris right now,” said Morgan. “It’s getting better.”

The occupancy rate in those three office markets hovered just under 90 percent at the start of the year, while the entire metro market stood at 83 percent.   

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