MUSKEGON — Continued growth is pushing the Westwood Group out of the quarters the firm has occupied since 1998 and into new offices it’s planning to develop a few blocks away on Western Avenue.
The commercial real estate firm will occupy the fourth floor and at least half, and possibly all, of the third floor of what’s been named The Alberts Building, a planned replica of the historic Hotel Muskegon.
Westwood plans to begin work on the project this fall by razing the site’s existing building that dates back to the early 20th century and constructing a four-story replica of the former Hotel Muskegon. The Alberts Building’s ground floor will house retail stores, with the remaining floors for professional offices.
Westwood will move its corporate headquarters from the Hume Building on Third Street and seek new tenants for the 8,000 square feet of space that will become available there, Chairman and CEO Mike Bowen said. Westwood has been housed in the Hume building since Bowen founded the company nearly four years ago.
A need for more space, coupled with long-term leases that prevent him from using other portions of the building for the company, prompted Bowen to look for new space elsewhere.
“We’re out of space here and continue to grow, and it’s only going to get worse over time,” Bowen said. “We have to move. There’s nothing we can do about that.”
Bowen’s choices for new office space were The Alberts Building or the office building that Westwood is developing downtown to house the regional headquarters of National City Bank. The Alberts Building, with its view of Muskegon Lake, a planned rooftop deck, unique character and proximity within a Western Avenue corridor that’s experiencing a rebirth, won out, Bowen said.
In addition to his own company, Bowen is close to signing a restaurant to occupy about half of the Muskegon Hotel’s first floor. He continues to seek tenants for the remainder of the first floor and for space on the second floor.
At the National City building, Westwood is negotiating with about a half-dozen parties interested in leasing part or all of the 10,000 square feet of office space available on the second floor. National City will occupy all of the first floor.
Westwood started construction of the National City project last month and began marketing the available office space just a few weeks earlier. The building — under construction on a 12-acre site across from the Terrace Plaza building where the extension of Shoreline Drive will go through downtown — represents the first Class A office space developed in Muskegon in more than a decade.
Bowen hopes to sign additional tenants for the space within the next couple of months.
“We’re just kind of working our way through negotiations with all of these parties,” he said.