Steelcase Campus Has Potential Buyer


    GRAND RAPIDS — Steelcase Inc. has signed a non-binding letter of intent for the sale of 206 acres of its Grand Rapids campus with New York real estate firm Ashley Capital.

    Steelcase shuttered its manufacturing facilities at the site last year in favor of its Kentwood and Gaines Township plants, and listed the property with Grand Rapids commercial real estate broker Grubb & Ellis|Paramount. The company’s world headquarters remain at the site in a 385,000-square-foot building at 901 44th St. SE, along with the 60,000-square-foot Steelcase University Learning Center.

    The transaction is contingent upon successful negotiations between the two companies, and likely will not close until late 2006. Terms of the sale were not disclosed. The property is valued at just over $100 million.

    Last week’s announcement was lauded by the mayors of Grand Rapids and Wyoming, although little in the way of redevelopment plans was revealed.

    At the time of last Monday’s announcement, Ashley Capital Principal Paul Rubacha kept virtually all uses on the table, stating only, “While we need to remain flexible in our plans for the property, at this time we foresee a mixed-use redevelopment including residential, retail, restaurant and industrial components. As always, we will work closely with the community to keep our goals for the redevelopment closely aligned with those of the community.”

    The 25-year-old Ashley Capital has roughly 25 million square feet in its portfolio throughout the eastern half of the United States. The privately-held firm is one of the premier industrial development firms in the country, specializing in the acquisition of under-utilized and/or physically obsolete industrial parks, bulk warehouses, big-box distribution properties, manufacturing facilities and office buildings, which present the opportunity to reposition and revitalize the asset to create substantial value.

    The firm has been an active player in Michigan in recent months. In January, it acquired 57 acres of land at the intersection of I-94 and Route 23 in Ann Arbor, to create the Ann Arbor Business Center. Plans include 585,000 square feet of warehouse and distribution space with construction set to begin in the spring of 2007. In November, the company started construction on a 628,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center at the Logistics Optimization Center in Lansing.

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