Partnerships strengthen area’s real estate risk-takers


For the second time in 26 years, Grand Rapids is the host and beneficiary of the University of Michigan/Urban Land Institute annual meeting. The two-day conference this week highlights professional issues and trends in Michigan and the U.S., and it brings students from U-M and other Michigan universities to the city for an architectural/development competition based on a particular site in the host city. But for all the conference’s merits, it is the overview of developments in this state that are most compelling and worthy of comment.

Michigan endured the impact of the housing crash, plummeting real estate property values and near bankruptcy of the Big Three automakers so recently that it seems implausible major commercial real estate initiatives could be undertaken at all, let alone in the number and quality defining the nominations for the UM/ULI Commercial Real Estate Awards. (See the Business Journal Focus: Commercial Quarterly beginning on page 21.)

The Business Journal notes project nominations from West Michigan reached from Dowagiac and Benton Harbor to Lansing, and each are catalysts in their communities. There is no small project for any community in these times of recovery, but each was distinctive for reasons beyond the resulting new jobs and benefits of returning properties to tax rolls.

In addition to those indicated in this issue of the Business Journal, two awards were presented to Detroit-area developers. Fred Beal, Motown Construction Partners, was lauded as top development/redevelopment of the year/East Michigan for Broderick Tower. The redevelopment transformed the 34-story historic landmark in downtown Detroit. Bedrock Management was cited with the award for sale/lease of the year/East Michigan for the Quicken Loans lease in downtown Detroit.

The Business Journal also notes the comments among the eight judges from across the state who remarked on the number of developers in West Michigan, the number of high-quality projects throughout the region and that each project had individual merits.

Once again, what is especially notable in this region is the number of partnerships and the success of working with municipalities striving to assist developers in project excellence.

In the case of the Colliers International award-winning lease, Duke Suwyn noted its customer, headquartered in Israel, brings a unique product to the state’s automotive industry. Plasan Carbon Composites is a Tier I supplier to OEMs and has produced carbon-fiber products for the Corvette, Viper and Shelby GT. “It’s world class that we end up with this in West Michigan, I think. It’s critical, it’s important. It’s not something that is subsidized. It’s not something that is being incentivized as a new technology,” said Suwyn. “This is market driven and it will stand the test of time.”

The Business Journal congratulates some of the biggest risk-takers in the business world and the communities benefiting from their expertise.

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