CBRE Has Big Office To Fill

August 29, 2005
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PORTAGE — The building just turned 18 years old, stands three stories tall, has 364,000 square feet of office space, and sits on a 42-acre site that has enough room for an even larger structure that could be used for manufacturing, distribution or warehousing.

The sprawling complex belongs to Pfizer Inc., maker of such well-known prescription drugs as Celebrex, Lipitor and Viagra. CB Richard Ellis/Martin of Lansing is the exclusive marketing agent for the building and land located at the corner of Portage and Romence roads near I-94.

"The building will be sold in its entirety, so it won't be broken up into its sub-component parts, as Pfizer desires to deed 42 acres with the property — which leaves pretty substantial expansion opportunities for the site of up to 450,000 square feet," said Jeff Cutler, director of corporate services for CBRE/Martin, in a phone interview from his Lansing office.

"It's in an industrial zone, but it's primarily an office function," he added.

Pfizer, the world's largest research-based pharmaceutical company, is selling the complex as part of the restructuring plan the firm announced last month. Pfizer is hoping the scale-down effort will reduce its annual expenses by $4 billion over the next three years.

Cutler said CBRE/Martin, which has an office on

East Beltline Avenue
, would market the complex to users first, and then to developers who might want to put more than a single tenant into the building. The listing is going out statewide, to certain regions in the Midwest, and to a selective national audience.

"So our first strategy will be to take it to users who might be able to occupy the entire premise or a good portion of it, and then our secondary marketing efforts will be to investors and developers," said Cutler.

Of course, the single user that CBRE/Martin is looking for must have a sizable number of employees to fill the office space. Cutler said Pfizer had a little more than 1,000 workers in the building during its heyday.

Large corporations looking for a divisional headquarters are at the top of the potential buyers list. A company with a good-sized customer service department or a big call center is another possible customer.

Besides its size, room to grow, and proximity to I-94, the building offers amenities that a corporate owner would be interested in having. The structure has a 360-seat auditorium and two 60-seat rooms that can be used for training sessions or meetings, and it is wired.

"The auditorium has in-theater seating, it's tiered with arm desks that flip up like in an academic setting. The training rooms are tiered as well, but have work tables in front of the seats, so they make excellent training and/or auditorium meeting spaces," said Cutler, who has former South Christian High School and Michigan State University basketball player Matt Steigenga assisting him in marketing the property.

"It's a world-class facility. It has quite a presence when you walk into it, and it's been well maintained. It's a technologically advanced building with all the technology infrastructure that a first-class corporation would require."

When the Business Journal spoke with Cutler, he said Pfizer hadn't decided on a price for the building and adjoining property, but was getting close to doing so. He also said the state and the city might give a potential buyer some inducements to purchase.

"We've met with all the city officials, including the mayor of Portage, and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. Although they can't state specific economic incentives that would be available to another type of user other than what their needs are, I think both are reaching out to help a sale move forward that will bring employment to the area," he said.

"I think they've both indicated that they will be incredibly cooperative." 

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