Foundations move into downtown high-rise


A view of Rosa Parks Circle and the heart of downtown Grand Rapids from the 99 Monroe building. Photo via

Two major West Michigan foundations have signed “long-term leases” to rent space in a downtown highrise.

The Wege Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation have rented space on the ninth floor of the 12-story 99 Monroe in downtown Grand Rapids, said Don Shoemaker, managing partner at Franklin Partners, the Chicago-based owner of 99 Monroe.

“We’re really excited — just because of the prominence of those two foundations — that they chose to come to 99 Monroe,” Shoemaker said. “It reflects what our intent was to create a really nice office for our tenants that allows us to attract high-end prestigious tenants.”

Wege will occupy 4,113 square feet, and Kellogg will occupy 2,580 square feet, Shoemaker said.

Kellogg plans to move in in February, and Wege plans to move in in June, Shoemaker said.

“Exciting” location

The Wege Foundation’s space is part of a plan to secure its future, said Ellen Satterlee, CEO at The Wege Foundation.

Wege will be partnering with Steelcase for the move.

Satterlee said downtown is a natural fit for The Wege Foundation, since the office will be surrounded by collaborative colleagues.

“The art museum is right there, one of the largest gifts we’ve ever made,” Satterlee said. “The other groups we work with collaboratively are downtown. It’s exciting down there. It’s just a really good vibe. It gets better all the time.”

99 Monroe

The two foundations will share the ninth floor with Oxford Financial, which holds 2,882 square feet, and Johnson Law, a Detroit-based firm that recently leased the remaining 4,407 square feet.

The recent additions to 99 Monroe leave it 70 percent leased, Shoemaker said, and a few more transactions are in the works that would soon put that number at 82 percent.

Franklin Partners bought 99 Monroe last summer and has put $4 million into renovating the space.

Shoemaker said as long as the continued interest in downtown remains, Franklin Partners' dollars will remain, too.

And so far, this is just the beginning.

“It does show that downtown continues to build momentum and firms that didn’t have a presence previously now want to be downtown,” Shoemaker said. “We see the growth in the city, and groups like Wege are responsible for that.” 

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