Street Talk

Street Talk: New Meijer office building is clearly intriguing

Gold stars.

January 2, 2015
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Intriguing — and perhaps somewhat mysterious — is how some may view the new two-story office building at the Meijer corporate complex in Walker.

Imagine a very large, two-story building enclosing an open-office environment with hundreds of workstations. Now imagine that, instead of brick or metal, the exterior walls are glass. Motorists passing by can actually see into it as if there were no exterior walls. Workers are clearly visible, and a large wall-mounted video screen, possibly in the marketing or product development department, can be seen from the street.

A courtyard in the center of the building is open to the sky, and it appears that, from some angles, one might even be able to see completely through the building.

A posting on indicates it is known as Building 989 but officially named the Lena Meijer Building, although Meijer wouldn’t confirm that and wouldn’t comment on the building, nor has it released any information on it.

Meijer Senior Director of Communications Frank J. Guglielmi previously told the Business Journal that once the building was occupied and in use, “we’ll be conducting a media announcement and walk through.” When asked again for information in December, however, Guglielmi said the company “decided not to do a media open house, or any media outreach, for that matter.” He said the company prefers “to keep the focus on the great things we are doing for our customers in our stores.”

Building permits and construction plans on file at the Walker Community Development Department indicate Building 989 was given an estimated construction cost of $19,071,033, and that it had been a metal-walled Meijer distribution center before reconstruction began in 2012. The ground floor is 213,306 square feet and the second floor mezzanine has an additional 124,018 square feet.

Major reconstruction is also underway on the Meijer complex on the north side of Three Mile Road, at the four-story corporate headquarters building: Building 985. The interior is reportedly being gutted and rebuilt with a construction cost of $18 million. Together, the four floors contain 222,280 square feet of space.

Back to work

OK, everybody, it’s time to get back to work. If you are like most Americans, last month was your least productive time of the year.

A study of 3,000 people in the United States has found that December is the month when people are most distracted by browsing the Internet at work.

The survey, undertaken by Stop Procrastinating, a leading website blocker, found that 74 percent of people admitted a combination of Black Friday and Christmas online shopping meant they spent hours browsing the Internet instead of working.

Black Friday was the single most distracting day with 35 percent saying they spent more than four hours browsing the Internet at work. A further 17 percent said they had pages open while looking like they were working. Nearly 10 percent said they used their smartphone in the office bathroom to make a Black Friday online purchase.

In the run-up to Christmas, according to the survey, 37 percent said they spent more than five hours a week searching online at work for presents. Another 24 percent admitted they used lunch breaks to search online rather than shop at local shops within walking distance.

Christmas Day and Canada’s Boxing Day (Dec. 26) also saw hours spent online searching for deals. Of those answering the survey, 23 percent who said they normally avoid the Dec. 26 sales were tempted to go online this year to browse from the comfort of their home.

Another 33 percent said they felt they shopped online more this year than last, and 21 percent said they shopped online at least the same amount as last year.

Rob Jones, a spokesperson for Stop Procrastinating, said: “The pressure to buy online on Black Friday has clearly had an impact on concentration levels at work. With big deals, the pressure to browse the Internet (more often) than work is overwhelming for some.”

Online shopping is also ruining the holiday for some, he added.

“Not only is productivity down at work in December, but there is a risk Christmas Day is becoming less of a day for socializing and fun than for going online and buying even more stuff,” Jones said.

So now that the holiday season is in the rearview mirror, employers can expect their workers to become more focused and productivity to increase, right? Well, maybe.

According to Jones, January is a good month to get things done.

That’s because after December, February and March are the two months in which there are the most online distractions. The reason? Surfing the Internet for summer vacation travel deals. He said some 32 percent of people surveyed said they used these months to shop for and book their summer holidays.

Roll call

Michigan’s 38 senators and 110 representatives missed a combined 1,626 votes in 2014, according to the Missed Votes Report compiled by Jack McHugh, editor of

The 2014 Legislature held 1,747 roll call votes — 936 in the Senate and 811 in the House — not counting purely procedural votes. This is up from the combined total of 1,256 roll call votes held in 2013, when individual legislators missed 1,093 votes altogether. In contrast, there were 21,162 missed votes in the 2001-2002 legislative session, the year began.

“The days of some legislators no longer showing up for work are long past,” McHugh said. “Legislators’ habits changed almost immediately when began making this information easily accessible.”

McHugh noted that in most cases missed votes occur when other demands within the legislative process call a lawmaker off the floor for a few minutes or when serious family or personal issues require an absence.

“Legislators are people, too,” McHugh said. “No one should jump to conclusions or assume bad faith, but if a legislator demonstrates a consistent pattern of missed votes for months on end, voters have a right to question it.” is searchable and sortable by legislator, category, keyword and more. It has described more than 25,000 bills since 2001. McHugh said while the service was started to give citizen-activists access to more information to help them influence the legislative process, its main benefit is transparency. The site’s database now contains 14 years’ worth of bills and votes — the complete legislative careers of many lawmakers.

So who is showing up for work? Based on votes taken from January 2013 to December 2014, West Michigan had good representation. Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell, was one of only three senators to vote on all 1,601 issues. Sen. Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, missed one roll call during that time.

In the House, 61 state representatives found time to vote on all 1,345 roll calls during that period. They included: Robert Genetski, R-Saugatuck; Thomas Hooker, R-Byron Center; Lisa Lyons, R-Alto; Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford; Amanda Price, R-Holland; Rob VerHeulen, R-Walker; Roger Victory, R-Hudsonville; and Ken Yonker, R-Caledonia.

By contrast, Sen. Bert Johnson, D-Highland Park, missed 284 votes during that time period, and Rep. John Olumba, D-Detroit, was absent for 306 tallies.

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