A new vibrancy west of the Grand River, paired with corridors of established businesses, has proven to be an effective attractor of companies looking for a downtown presence on the fringe of Grand Rapids' core. Next spring, logistics leader C.H. Robinson
(CHR) plans to join west side entities like OST, Rockford Construction, and Grand Valley State University and relocate its nearly 70 employees to 10,000 square feet in Clark Place at American Seating Park
, 801 Broadway NW.
The redevelopment of a vacant 1891 American Seating warehouse and the surrounding property into a mixed-use commercial and residential hub began in 2001. With the C.H. Robinson lease, office space occupancy is now at 95 percent, says Chris Beckering, director of business development for Pioneer Construction
, the project builder.
"We hire a lot of young talent right out of college, and we want a high-performance environment," says Matt Albers, general manager for CHR Grand Rapids. "We have music playing nonstop and we like that work hard/play hard atmosphere. We don't want to lose any talent because of having an old-atmosphere office."
Albers says CHR plans to hire five to 15 people in 2014 and that many again in 2015. The wide-open office setting with Grand River and city views can accommodate 100 people. CHR plans to reach that number in five years and has the option to expand another 4,000 square feet, if needed.
"We're moving downtown for the vibe of downtown because that will help recruiting," Albers says. "We didn't want a space that was the old mold, and we wanted everyone in one big room to create energy. We're a Fortune 250 company, and to step up the office for that Fortune 250 company we want to step up the atmosphere."
That atmosphere includes daylight throughout the space, a kitchenette set up as an employee lounge, and state-of-the-art technology.
Design: General Office Products
Builder: Pioneer Construction
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Renderings courtesy of General Office Products
Clark Place condominium sales success indicates demand for downtown Grand Rapids living