Bata Is Alpha

July 13, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — Bata Plastics, a leading member of the local sustainable business community, is the first company to commit to the Grand Rapids Commerce Center that is being developed by Ashley Capital on 206 acres in southeast Grand Rapids.

Bata Plastics is the largest industrial plastics recycler in the region, and the company is leasing a building and 10 acres from Ashley Capital on the former Steelcase Inc. campus situated between

44th Street
Eastern Avenue SE

“Over the past seven years, we have been growing steadily. We are now the largest full-service plastics reprocessor in western Michigan and we were really landlocked in our old facility,” said CEO W. Lee Hammond of his ByronCenter location.

“We have plenty of room for expansion at this site, which is centrally located and close to major highways. There are very few quality properties of this size available in Grand Rapids, and we are very pleased to be the first West Michigan company to commit to this exceptional location,” he added.

Bata Plastics has an option to purchase the property, and Ashley Capital Vice President of Leasing Kevin Hegg told the Business Journal that Bata is likely to exercise that option.

“They’re going to be leasing for the short term with an option to buy it, and I’m sure they’re going to take their option. But at the front end, they’re going to be a tenant,” said Hegg.

Ashley Capital, a New York-based real estate developer with an office in suburban Detroit, bought the property from Steelcase Inc. in February and plans to redevelop the large site for retail, office and industrial uses.

Ashley Capital Principal Paul Rubacha said his company plans to place the site, all 206 acres, back into full productive use. And Hegg said Ashley will lease or sell buildings on the campus.

“We knew coming in that western Michigan has a higher level of owner occupancy. As a result, quite a bit of the interest we’ve received has been from buyers, and we are not opposed to selling. We have several other interested buyers that we’re speaking to at present. So we don’t have a hard-and-fast rule that we will only lease,” said Hegg.

Hegg said Ashley also has office space available within the CommerceCenter and some parcels on

Eastern Avenue
44th Street
for retailers. But he doesn’t think they will be able to draw a major anchor to the site and is pursuing other avenues for those lots.

Grubb & Ellis|Paramount Commerce has been involved with the project from its inception. The local commercial real estate firm assisted Steelcase in selling the 4.7 million- square-foot campus to Ashley Capital and is now helping Ashley fill the square footage.

“It was called the carton storage facility. It’s a beautiful distribution building on the northern half of the campus toward the west side, and it’s just north of the power plant. But it’s a sharp, stand-alone, 120,000-square-foot building,” said Duke Suwyn, Grubb & Ellis|Paramount Commerce CEO and president, of the building Bata is moving into.

“There still is a lot of work to do with the infrastructure,” said Suwyn. “But the reality is a lot of things are coming down the pike. This is just the first of what will be quite a few good announcements coming over the next four or five months.”

Bata Plastics has already begun renovating the 120,000-square-foot building at

1001 40th St. SE
and plans to add a 2,200-square-foot green office building to the structure. Both projects are being done under LEED-certification guidelines.

“We are expanding our facilities to better serve our customers, who are located throughout North America. As a reprocessor, we are all about second uses, which makes Grand RapidsCommerceCenter a perfect location for our new home,” said Hammond

Bata reprocesses plastics from industrial, commercial and consumer goods and then reintroduces the recycled materials into the manufacturing stream.

Plastics News, a trade publication, recently ranked Bata Plastics at 133 on a listing of 250. Bata has been in business for 22 years.

DVK Construction will build Bata’s new office, which was designed by Lott3 Metz Architecture. Catalyst Partners is directing the LEED-certification process.

While the former Steelcase property is changing, the office furniture manufacturer is making changes to its headquarters and Learning and ExplorationCenter. The company is investing $17 million into renovation work to both buildings.   

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