Enthusiasm, teamwork are hallmarks of real estate awards

November 6, 2011
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Few know the full depth of the financial crisis as well as developers, the perennial unabashed boosters of optimism. Uncharacteristically morose in commentary through the depths of the recession, the Business Journal finds reason to highlight long-awaited successes in this business sector. As projects once again find planners and funding, it is an industry that is stronger for the forge of change.

Improvements are declared in the paper this week by home builders, industrial property developments and commercial property developers. The highlight for this sector across the state of Michigan will likely come from the University of Michigan/Urban Land Institute’s 25th anniversary conference at Cobo Hall in Detroit. Three local commercial project developers will be spotlighted with awards for achievement in Grand Rapids, and each is remarkable in terms of degrees of difficulty and unprecedented hurdles to completion.

Their stories are all on the front page of this week’s Focus section. Real estate excellence awards will be given Thursday to Chuck Reid, Charter House Innovations, for the CityFlats Hotel in downtown Grand Rapids, and to Duke Suwyn, Colliers International/West Michigan, for the problem-solving lease of the year that literally required raising the 36,000-square-foot roof to seal the deal. Reid’s redevelopment of the 137-year-old former Fox Jeweler building to LEED standards began with a dig so deep Reid joked he could see China.

CWD Managing Partner Sam Cummings will be recognized with a lifetime achievement award, citing 24 of his projects in 20 years, most especially the 2011 opening of Gallery on Fulton, which broke ground in September 2008. His Second Story Properties was a pioneer in adaptive re-use of buildings in West Michigan.

Commentary here is not necessarily to laud those endeavors but to call attention to a particular refrain: community partnerships. As reported on page 11, Cummings said, “(The recognition) is really a tribute to the city of Grand Rapids. We have such a culture of can-do and enthusiasm in this city, it’s such a privilege to do business here and be part of what the city is becoming.”

In a separate interview, Suwyn commented in much the same way. “(The award) is really an award for the community of West Michigan,” he said. He further relates in the story to the “spirit of teamwork among West Michigan professionals.”

The projects themselves give rise to the phrase, “Anything can happen.” The genuine appreciation of community-wide partnerships to their success offers reason.

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