Grooters' One-Day Sale Success

July 22, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — Robert Grooters Development Co. held a one-day sales event on June 29 and sold or leased nearly 150,000 square feet of its new quarter-of-a-million-square-foot building in Union Station industrial park.

About half of the 250,000-square-foot building is in the city’s Renaissance Zone and there’s a tax abatement on the other half, according to Pete Colvin of Grooters. Union Station is located just east of U.S. 131 between Franklin and Hall streets.

Grooters bought the property in two phases from Consolidated Freight and purchased the second parcel after the Renaissance Zone application period expired, he explained. The parking lot and landscaping were completed just two days before the open house event.

Of the 25 companies that visited the building’s unveiling that day, two companies leased space and three companies purchased space in the building. One tenant leased 20,000 square feet and the second tenant leased 50,000 square feet. The three other customers collectively purchased about 80,000 square feet.

It was the company’s first ever one-day sale and Grooters staged it to “create some excitement,” Colvin said. The event ran from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the plan was to see whether there was enough interest in small condominium suites of about 20,000 square feet and up.

“We haven’t split any of our buildings up into industrial condominiums as yet. So by doing this we can take that huge quarter-million-square-foot building and offer smaller suites for local businesses to buy and own something in the Ren Zone.”

On hand for the event were representatives of The Right Place Inc., the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the city’s economic development team. Lenders from Macatawa and Republic banks were on hand, as well, to offer financing advice. Their role was to “sell” Grand Rapids and make sure people knew about the various benefits available.

The event didn’t pull in a huge crowd, but everybody that did turn out was “real serious about real estate,” Colvin said.

He said foot traffic was steady and that Grooters probably couldn’t have handled many more people and still given them adequate personal attention. It was “a perfect balance,” he said. People came in early, and two hours after the event they were still coming in.

“By the time we got to sit down with them, go over plans, pick and lay out the space, we got five signed offers for over half the space. We picked up another one the next day that came in to reserve space, too, so a total of six for that one-day event.”

He said Grooters held another one-day sales event for office space July 14.

“We think that just by kind of focusing on a period of time and letting people know that it’s a finite commodity seems to really help. And then you get them there with everybody they need to help them make a decision and give them all the information they need. People are busy running businesses, and if they can accomplish all those meetings with all those different parties in an hour, they really appreciate it.”

Colvin told the Business Journal that it costs Grooters Development about $50 a square foot to put up an industrial building and that the condos are priced at less than $40 a square foot, with the actual price depending on how much office space a buyer needs.    

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