Long vacant Flat Iron Building readies for new glory days in downtown Grand Rapids

Word on the street is that the upper floors of Grand Rapids' Flat Iron Building haven't had occupants since the 1940s. Those days are long past now that future tenants Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge (SHRR) have begun the buildout of some 27,000 square feet for its growing law firm.

Locus Development owns the circa 1858 structure, which is actually three connected buildings stretched along Monroe Center at Ottawa Avenue NE. Locus spent the last months preparing for the interior buildout by installing a new elevator, subfloors, energy efficient windows and HVAC; soda blasting the interior brick; repainting the façade, and installing a new roof.

Besides private offices for attorneys and open workspaces for support staff, there will also be eight conference rooms and a main floor reception area. But one significant feature could be the new hallmark for buildings of the 21st Century: casual workspace in a communal setting.

"The prow of the building that overlooks Monroe Center and Ottawa will have a café atmosphere on the fourth floor, just below the new rooftop deck," says Bill Scarbrough, COO. "People's work styles have changed over the years, and younger people in particular are attracted to that way of working and not sitting in a traditional office."

Scarbrough expects to relocate SHRR's 100 employees from their current Calder Plaza Building offices the week before Thanksgiving.

"We're using this as an opportunity to rethink how we use space," he says. "Books and law libraries and files are all electronic today, so the amount of space we need for those things has dropped quite dramatically." Scarbrough adds that though the law firm is growing, it is downsizing its footprint from 32,000 square feet to 27,000.

Both the core and shell of the building, and the interior buildout, will be LEED certified.

Construction manager: Wolverine Building Group
Architect and engineering design: Design Plus

Source: Bill Scarbrough, Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge; Kim Bode, 834 Design & Marketing
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Related Articles
New tenant for Grand Rapids' Flat Iron building will take all three upper floors
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.