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Sunday, 02 February 2014 14:22

New industrial space coming to Grand Rapids area

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New industrial space coming to Grand Rapids area Photo: JOE BOOMGAARD

A new industrial building going up northwest of downtown Grand Rapids could be a sign that more build-to-suit projects and even speculative building could soon show up in the West Michigan market.

Visser Brothers Inc. is building the 214,000-square-foot heavy manufacturing facility at 2640 West River Drive in Walker on acreage owned by DBV II LLC, a holding company registered to the contractor’s president, Bill Mast.

“We had this property sitting there and we knew we wanted to build on it, so that’s what we’re doing,” said Greg Bol, an in-house broker with Visser Development Co.

Even without formal tenant agreements for the entire space and before final interior layout plans for the building were complete, the firm decided to push forward on the project, Bol said, noting the building could be configured for multiple users. The firm has at least one informal agreement with a potential user, he said.

Van’s Delivery Service Inc. is considering a lease for a portion of the space, MiBiz confirmed.

“We’ve had a lot of changes in customers’ needs and the business is growing,” said John Nieuwenhuis, COO at Van’s Delivery. “We knew that Visser always had a desire to put up a facility (at the property). … Eventually we had some informal conversations with them, and they asked us what we would like to see and need.”

The company needs to expand to accommodate the added business it picked up after its quiet acquisition less than a year ago of QuikTrac Logistics LLC, a small Grand Rapids-based logistics provider. The acquisition made sense because QuicTrac had a base of clientele that complemented Van’s current business, Nieuwenhuis said.

Van’s Delivery recently started hunting for space to expand near its current headquarters at 2280 Turner Drive NW, Nieuwenhuis said.

The firm plans to occupy between 30,000 and 50,000 square feet of the new space, which should be ready in July, Nieuwenhuis said.

Visser continues to look for additional tenants, Bol said.

The Visser Development project comes as numerous reports from real estate brokers, economists and others have noted the lack of available quality industrial property in the greater Grand Rapids area. Coupled with the high cost of construction and a lackluster debt financing market, developers have been slow to add new inventory, industry sources told MiBiz.

While there is some build-to-suit activity, particularly in well-equipped industrial parks, developers have mostly held off on speculative building projects, area brokers said.

Considering the current environment, the Visser project is a promising sign for small- to midsize firms looking for more well-equipped space, said Gene Szpeinski, an associate broker with Signature Associates.

Many companies looking to expand don’t have the luxury that Visser Development had in already owning a piece of developable land, Szpeinski said. That makes it far less of a burden to manage the development cost, he said.

“We are definitely dealing with an inventory problem for better buildings, … those with modern amenities, heights and that work with the manufacturing systems of today,” Szpeinski said. “I definitely think we’ll have to see more of what Visser is doing this year, but the biggest issue is still the financing ability of (projects).”

Editor’s note: This story was changed from its original form to note that the new facility is located in Walker. 

Read 11222 times Last modified on Monday, 03 February 2014 12:34

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