Corporate center fills ahead of schedule
Real estate broker signs 22 tenants in the past year.
Colliers International West Michigan last year established a goal of filling out the Grand Rapids Corporate Center in 24 months.
Instead, the real estate broker, led by Trent Wieringa and John Kuiper, helped the center jump from 35 percent occupancy to 95 percent in approximately 12 months.
Bloomfield Hills-based real estate firm JBD Acquisition Corp. acquired the 159,000-square-foot facility on Roger B. Chaffee Memorial Drive in Wyoming in May 2015 and selected Colliers as the leasing agent.
“The center had poor occupancy and high vacancy rate for years,” Wieringa said. “The prior owner hadn’t been the easiest guy to work with and was very unfriendly with brokers and didn’t seem to have a use for the community in town, and the center reflected that.”
When JBD Acquisitions acquired the industrial facility, Principal J.B. Davies interviewed a number of Grand Rapids brokers to facilitate the leasing, selecting Colliers. Davies consulted with the Colliers agents to determine the best course of action to fill out the center.
Wieringa’s first inclination was the center would attract plenty of potential tenants, but it had fallen behind in terms of amenities and attractiveness.
“We knew right off the bat there would be a handful of tenants interested in the space,” he said. “There was a pent-up demand. There are a lot of those types of spaces out near the airport, but there’s not a whole lot of flex spaces in Wyoming.”
When Davies took over, there were multiple suites in the Grand Rapids Corporate Center that had 10,000 square feet of office space — a hard sell in an industrial area in the modern real estate market, Wieringa said. Those spaces required some transitional work to become attractive to the potential users.
Wieringa said most of the current tenants are in spaces ranging from 2,000-6,000 square feet, with most in the 3,000-4,000-square-foot range. Those spaces have about 1,000 square feet of office at the front of the building, with the rest consisting of industrial, manufacturing or warehousing space.
The renovations took approximately five months following the acquisition of the building, Wieringa said.
The updates to the property included a re-pouring of the asphalt parking lot, new LED lights and signage throughout the exterior of the building and new landscaping around the grounds.
“It’s really exciting to see how this facility has evolved over the last year,” Davies said. “It was our goal to transform this building into an attractive facility for growing and established companies with strong business plans, and it’s rewarding to see the Grand Rapids Corporate Center being used by businesses across a variety of industries.”
Since the updates were finished, Colliers helped sign 22 tenants to fill out the space that had eight tenants in the building when it changed hands. Now, there are two vacant suites, with several original tenants slated to let their leases run out, Wieringa said.
“(Davies) did all those updates before he had a tenant and just had the confidence that if he did it right, they’d come,” Wieringa said. “Once the updates were done, it was this final product, and it took hold and took off.
“We had a ton of traction once it was complete, and the success we’ve had is a clear indication he was right.”
The most recent tenant to sign a long-term lease at the facility is North Carolina-based Piedmont Plastics, which is leasing a 25,000-square-foot suite.
Many of the new tenants came from outside the West Michigan region, Wieringa said, but others were operating from smaller locations and outgrew the space they were in.
“There’s been this pent-up demand in that area, and there was finally product to support it,” he said. “It’s pretty cool and reflective of how strong Grand Rapids is right now, and it’s a good story of how a landlord and broker can work together to get a product where it needs to be.”