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Jippy

Downtown Headquarters

38 posts in this topic

Sadly, although not surprisingly, Meijer has decided to build a new headquarters near its current location in Walker. While I certainly praise their success, it is disappointing to see that they (as well as most of the major local companies) decided to forgo the opportunity to raise their own corporate profile and leverage their investment for more community development by locating downtown.

http://mibiz.com/item/20190-meijer-plans-new-headquarters

Unfortunately, this trend continues in Grand Rapids despite dramatic nationwide trends of suburban HQs relocating to downtowns. For example, the Detroit Free Press had an article last week stating that 60 businesses have moved back to downtown Detroit in the last year alone, plus the thousands of employees of Compuware, Quicken, Loans Blue Cross, Chrystler (marketing arm), and Twitter.

http://www.quickenloans.com/press-room/companies-that-have-joined-rock-ventures-in-downtown-detroit

Grand Rapids has had tremendous success over the last decade, much due to a committed philanthropic community of Grand Rapids industry titans. I hope that these same community leaders soon realize that moving their headquarters will better help them attract and retain top talent. In Detroit, it just took one man (Dan Gilbert) to become the downtown cheerleader, moved 1000s of his own employees downtown, and encouraged his other CEO friends to do the same thing. While the remainder of Detroit is struggling, downtown is quickly coming back. Hopefully, Grand Rapids will come to have its own Dan Gilbert.

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Another sad blow for downtown. I keep looking to what Target is doing for Minneapolis. I really wish Meijer, Amway, and Spartan foods would move downtown. .02

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Unfortunately Meijer operates under razon-thin margins and is batteling Wal-Mart just to keep on top here in the mid-west. It would cost them millions past just the physical building dealing with issues involving parking alone.

Wal-Mart still operates out of a squat building in Arkansas as far as I can tell, so it would not be wise for Meijer to make an expensive corporate move here, as much as it really would be helpful.

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Unfortunately Meijer operates under razon-thin margins and is batteling Wal-Mart just to keep on top here in the mid-west. It would cost them millions past just the physical building dealing with issues involving parking alone.

Wal-Mart still operates out of a squat building in Arkansas as far as I can tell, so it would not be wise for Meijer to make an expensive corporate move here, as much as it really would be helpful.

I certainly do not disagree with this sentiment, and it certainly would be more straight-forward to develop at its current location. That said, if Meijer (or any other major employer) expressed the desire to move downtown, I am optimistic that the community would rally around their efforts and overcome the financial obstacles to do so. It would be a catalyst investment that elevates downtown, would facilitate greater reinvestment adjacent to their presence, and raise their corporate profile throughout the midwest -- any skyline shot with their corporate name on it! It also improves their ability to attract talent...I sure as hell ain't going to work in Walker.

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This is not a disappointment, nor is it "a sad blow." The article does not say they are building a new headquarters, it says they are overhauling and renovating the existing buildings over a long period of time. That's completely different; one involves relocating and one doesn't. Renovating your office is a minor inconvenience, comparatively. Relocation is a major expense and a major pain in the arse for a corporate office, and they wouldn't do it unless they were really out of space.

There is no practical reason for them to undertake the expense/arse-pain to move downtown; if they did, it would be for purely emotional/symbolic reasons. That's fine if that's what they want to do, and I'm happy for Dan Gilbert and all his fine work, but you can't blame them if they don't want to. Meijer seems to like having their shipping center nearby, which is another obstacle, because that is NOT moving downtown. Nor should we want it to.

It strikes me as obtuse that we're pining after Dan Gilbert, as if Detroit has all these conscientious businessmen who care about their downtown, and Grand Rapids doesn't have anybody who puts in money for new buildings... Huh??? We don't? Really? :whistling:

Lastly, remember, just because Meijer's HQ isn't downtown, doesn't mean they can't show a presence there. For instance, Meijer is a collaborator in Grid70. So are Amway, Steelcase, and Wolverine. We all know Amway owns other properties downtown (e.g. hotels), and Windquest Group is also on Monroe. I would certainly be happy to see more offices and HQs downtown, but remember that corporations can invest and add jobs downtown without having to uproot and relocate there.

Edited by RegalTDP
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This is not a disappointment, nor is it "a sad blow." The article does not say they are building a new headquarters, it says they are overhauling and renovating the existing buildings over a long period of time. ... Meijer seems to like having their shipping center nearby, which is another obstacle, because that is NOT moving downtown. Nor should we want it to....

Thanks for this.

--fan of reading comprehension

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Yes, it would be nice if Meijer moved downtown, but I’m glad to hear they are investing in their outdated campus in Walker.

Speaking of another big Grand Rapids food distributor, it’s strange that we have not heard anything about the huge new Gordon Food Service headquarters in Wyoming. It’s my understanding they have moved in. No news reports, no pictures, nothing. It’s kind of a big deal, with absolutely no fan fair.

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In this day and age just *keeping* a business, downtown or otherwise, is an accomplishment.

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I wonder if (NEW) office space would help. 38 commerce which is new seemed to have no trouble finding tenants.

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Moving Meijer out of Walker would probably be a major blow for that city's financials, as cool as it would be to have Meijer in downtown GR. Grand Rapids doesn't need one of its major suburbs in dire financial straits.

A lot of the townships, on the other hand, could probably absorb the blow better.

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Walker has a city income tax of 1%/.5%. The loss of Meijer would be a big hit to the City of Walker.

AFAK Grand Rapids is the only other city in Kent county with an income tax (@ 1.5%/.75%). So yes, the townships would be better able to absorb a blow like that.

I think however, that moving downtown would be good for Meijer. I just don't see them even thinking about it until they run out of space at their headquarters. And they have been downsizing their corporate office in recent years to become more efficient to better compete with Walmart. I can't see them needing more space for awhile.

But this caught me by surprise. What does this mean?

The most visible part of the plan includes a major transformation of the company’s existing shipping and receiving warehouse into an all-glass exterior modern office structure, said Frank Wash, community development director for Walker.

They have two warehouse buildings on site. one is mammoth, the other smaller, but still quite a lot of square feet. I assume they are talking about renovating the smaller warehouse into offices. It's two or three stories high. I think it only has one floor, but new floors can be built inside. But the floor plates would be huge. They maybe would have to cut a courtyard in the center. And would they need all that office space? I'm thinking maybe they only plan to turn part of the building into office space with the rest remaining warehouse.

With the need for more office space they would be best served to move all their office employees into a single (new) building downtown. They would be better served by consolidating three office buildings into one. It would certainly solve their 3 mile road problem.

Meijer’s plans for a cohesive campus must make do with the difficulty posed by having Three Mile Road run through its center. Pedestrian traffic across Three Mile Road is a challenge the parties are still working through, Wash said.

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While I certainly appreciate the fondness of the status-quo, Regal's defensive posture strikes me as a bit off-key and quite frankly redundant of my initial post. As I already stated, "I certainly praise their [Meijer's] success" and downtown has benefited from a "committed philanthropic community of Grand Rapids industry titans" and not developing downtown "would be more straight-forward to develop at its current location". Regal also correctly points out that many of these companies are now starting to make small employment investments downtown at Grid70. The critique is not of Meijer per se, but the trend of ongoing corporate investments in suburban or exurban locations (Farmer's, GFS, Meijer, Bissell, etc).

But I will happily and proudly continue to "pine", wish, advocate, preach, critique and cheer for our community business leaders to take the next step and invest their businesses dollars on top of their philanthropic dollars downtown. My rational is greater than mere civic pride, I know (and many of you do to) that the success of the community and many of these very companies also depend on a strong downtown. With it occurs more spin-off development, investment, collaboration, employment recruitment, and a higher community profile when these corporate decisions are made. Dan Gilbert has done great things for downtown Detroit, and having a GR CEO advocate for the same type of investments here would be a boon to the entirety of West Michigan. IMO, the key to taking downtown GR to the next level is sustained economic-producing investments (i.e. jobs that export services outside of the region) , rather than consumption-based investments (e.g. arts, health, education, hotel/convention, residential, and entertainment).

Edited by Jippy

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While I certainly appreciate the fondness of the status-quo, Regal's defensive posture strikes me as a bit off-key and quite frankly redundant of my initial post. As I already stated, "I certainly praise their [Meijer's] success" and downtown has benefited from a "committed philanthropic community of Grand Rapids industry titans" and not developing downtown "would be more straight-forward to develop at its current location". Regal also correctly points out that many of these companies are now starting to make small employment investments downtown at Grid70. The critique is not of Meijer per se, but the trend of ongoing corporate investments in suburban or exurban locations (Farmer's, GFS, Meijer, Bissell, etc).

But I will happily and proudly continue to "pine", wish, advocate, preach, critique and cheer for our community business leaders to take the next step and invest their businesses dollars on top of their philanthropic dollars downtown. My rational is greater than mere civic pride, I know (and many of you do to) that the success of the community and many of these very companies also depend on a strong downtown. With it occurs more spin-off development, investment, collaboration, employment recruitment, and a higher community profile when these corporate decisions are made. Dan Gilbert has done great things for downtown Detroit, and having a GR CEO advocate for the same type of investments here would be a boon to the entirety of West Michigan. IMO, the key to taking downtown GR to the next level is sustained economic-producing investments (i.e. jobs that export services outside of the region) , rather than consumption-based investments (e.g. arts, health, education, hotel/convention, residential, and entertainment).

I think the difference though between Detroit and here is that a lot of business owners feel compelled to help "save" downtown Detroit. Most business CEO's in Grand Rapids probably don't have that feeling about downtown GR. In fact, they probably think it's doing pretty well without them.

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That's interesting Jippy. What's more beneficial for the region. If a wealthy philanthropist only had so much they could donate, would you rather see, for example, a new Symphony Hall or new corporate headquarters. I can certainly see that the influx of thousands of workers downtown would benefit the city greater then a new Symphony Hall. I'm not sure how the public would react to, say the Meijer Estate donating money back to the company so they can get a shinny new headquarters. I'm sure they couldn't write that off on their taxes as a charitable donation.

One thing you have to understand about Dan Gilbert is that, while he is moving almost all his employees downtown Detroit, he brought those buildings dirt cheap. Yes, he's putting a lot of money into renovating them. He's also getting big tax breaks and tax credits as well. And I'm sure he hoping that if downtown Detroit can turn around (and he is a big part of that) those buildings will be worth many millions more then he ever put into them. We had someone trying that in Grand Rapids too. But it didn't work out so well for Bob Israels.

Maybe if the Meijer family built a new tower downtown. The family would own the tower, their company would be the major tenant leasing from the family. There could even be a store incorporated into the building. The Meijer family would have a guaranteed tenant for their building. And their company will benefit from a greater profile.

Edited by Gorath

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The small warehouse is 5 acres, the large one 13 acres. The small one has been underused for many years. Van's Delivery Service had it leased for a 5 year period but Meijers has been using it the last few years. As far as I know, the big warehouse is used for Health & Beauty Aids. At one time it was a central distribution point for the company but their expansion has reduced it's value for that. Years ago a freind of my folks by the name of Warren Jolman was in charge of the company banana distribution out of the "Banana Room" at this complex. He was affectionally called the "Banana Man".

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My pining continues: http://www.freep.com/article/20121102/BUSINESS06/311020073/Gilbert-plans-downtown-Detroit-retail-space?odyssey=mod{sodEmoji.|}newswell{sodEmoji.|}text{sodEmoji.|}FRONTPAGE{sodEmoji.|}p

Not that I am enthralled by a gigantic parking garage, but it certainly indicates the desire to develop new beyond renovating old and cheap[ly purchased but probably expensive to renovate].

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I read about that building yesterday. Im glad to see Detroit getting some new life. 20 stores is alot. Kind of reminds me of a smaller version of watertower place in Chicago. Though Dan Gilbert is helping them, lets remember theres a family here who gave us Art Prize, Start Garden, parts of Pill Hill, and some shinny glass towers on the river!

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While I certainly appreciate the fondness of the status-quo, Regal's defensive posture strikes me as a bit off-key and quite frankly redundant of my initial post. As I already stated, "I certainly praise their [Meijer's] success" and downtown has benefited from a "committed philanthropic community of Grand Rapids industry titans" and not developing downtown "would be more straight-forward to develop at its current location". Regal also correctly points out that many of these companies are now starting to make small employment investments downtown at Grid70. The critique is not of Meijer per se, but the trend of ongoing corporate investments in suburban or exurban locations (Farmer's, GFS, Meijer, Bissell, etc).

But I will happily and proudly continue to "pine", wish, advocate, preach, critique and cheer for our community business leaders to take the next step and invest their businesses dollars on top of their philanthropic dollars downtown. My rational is greater than mere civic pride, I know (and many of you do to) that the success of the community and many of these very companies also depend on a strong downtown. With it occurs more spin-off development, investment, collaboration, employment recruitment, and a higher community profile when these corporate decisions are made. Dan Gilbert has done great things for downtown Detroit, and having a GR CEO advocate for the same type of investments here would be a boon to the entirety of West Michigan. IMO, the key to taking downtown GR to the next level is sustained economic-producing investments (i.e. jobs that export services outside of the region) , rather than consumption-based investments (e.g. arts, health, education, hotel/convention, residential, and entertainment).

Hey, I agree with you 100% on everything you've said (especially about Farmer's - yuk), but my point is that none of these are strong incentives to move from the point of view of a corporate office as large as Meijer's. For a small company, yes, but for Meijer it would take a lot more. It's not a fondness for the status quo, it's just business; the cost and man-hours required are too high. And I don't claim to be an expert, I'm just saying I don't see the incentives. And maybe Meijer will one day be put into the hands of somebody who thinks it's too monolithic and wants to shake things up drastically - well, I'll the first one to cheer their move downtown. And it could happen; at least it's still a private company, therefore one that doesn't have to convince shareholders to care about downtown GR.

Go ahead and pine away - Lord knows I fill these threads with my own pinings - but I just think it's strange to express genuine disappointment in Meijer's case. I'm sorry if I mischaracterized your actual critique, but your first post specifically called out Meijer for building a new headquarters, which isn't what they're doing.

Edited by RegalTDP

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Massive amounts of tax credits were used to get those companies to downtown Detroit (and other downtowns). Blue Cross Blue Shield I believe got $55 Million (!!) in tax credits to relocate 3000 people to the Ren Cen (they didn't even build anything). The added activity in downtown Detroit will hopefully make up for those tax credits, but I don't think there's as much appetite at the State level to fund those kinds of moves. Goodyear received $50 Million to move its headquarters to downtown Akron.

Des Moines is a good example of a similar sized city that has had a considerable number of financial services/insurance companies build new HQ's downtown (7 I believe).

I don't know how many people Meijer has at corporate, but even if it's only 500 people, you're talking probably $80 - $100 Million for a new building downtown ($20 million for the parking ramp alone). They'd want a considerable amount of State and local help to make that happen, I'd imagine. I wonder if they even looked at the possibility? And where, if they did.

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One of the reasons given for Meijer staying put in Walker is that they are close to there warehouse. That makes me wonder if Meijer has ever considered moving their headquarters to Lansing. The Walker warehouse is about 1/4 the size of the distribution center they have in Lansing (actually Delta township I think) on Creyts Road.

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One downtown relocation that I found recently (don't know if I posted this before) was the tech company Red Hat in Raleigh moving from the NCSU campus area to downtown Raleigh. In addition to moving 700 people downtown, they've attached their name to downtown Raleigh's outdoor amphitheatre. One caveat, it did take $millions in incentives to get them to move downtown (they threatened to completely move out of state to get NC tax credits).

 

http://www.newraleigh.com/articles/archive/red-hat-headquarters-downtown

 

http://www.raleighpublicrecord.org/news/2012/01/06/incentives-lure-red-hat-downtown-are-they-worth-it/

 

http://www.northraleighnews.com/2012/09/08/17601/red-hat-name-to-grace-downtown.html

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More talk about the lack of a large corporate headquarters in downtown GR.

http://mibiz.com/news/real-estate/item/22999-gr-lags-peer-cities-in-attracting-downtown-corporate-hqs

It's interesting that Frey is talking about this.  I think his father started Foremost Insurance in downtown Grand Rapids, but as we know that ended up out in Caledonia, and they have since expanded multiple times on their property.  Insurance company corporate headquarters are great fits for downtown office buildings. 

Des Moines, a similar city in size to GR has had success in this area:

http://mibiz.com/item/23009-looking-to-the-outside-the-des-moines-example

 

Edited by mpchicago
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More talk about the lack of a large corporate headquarters in downtown GR.

http://mibiz.com/news/real-estate/item/22999-gr-lags-peer-cities-in-attracting-downtown-corporate-hqs

It's interesting that Frey is talking about this.  I think his father started Foremost Insurance in downtown Grand Rapids, but as we know that ended up out in Caledonia, and they have since expanded multiple times on their property.  Insurance company corporate headquarters are great fits for downtown office buildings. 

Des Moines, a similar city in size to GR has had success in this area:

http://mibiz.com/item/23009-looking-to-the-outside-the-des-moines-example

 

 

This quote puzzled me...

"For over a year, Spectrum Health executives had heard from the heads of their I.T. and development groups that the health system competed for workers with several of the area’s larger technology companies, said Chief Information Officer Patrick O’Hare, who serves as senior vice president of facilities.

'Their talent is in the downtown market and we are trying to attract similar talent,' O’Hare said. 'I challenged some of my leaders because of issues with the downtown market in terms of parking and access.

'"

I've never noticed a bunch of IT people working in the Downtown Market...  Oh wait, he said downtown market, not Downtown Market.  Silly me.  That's not another example of the idiocy of that name at all.

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This quote puzzled me...

"For over a year, Spectrum Health executives had heard from the heads of their I.T. and development groups that the health system competed for workers with several of the area’s larger technology companies, said Chief Information Officer Patrick O’Hare, who serves as senior vice president of facilities.

 

'Their talent is in the downtown market and we are trying to attract similar talent,' O’Hare said. 'I challenged some of my leaders because of issues with the downtown market in terms of parking and access.

 

'

"

I've never noticed a bunch of IT people working in the Downtown Market...  Oh wait, he said downtown market, not Downtown Market.  Silly me.  That's not another example of the idiocy of that name at all.

I had to read that twice too :)

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At least throw us a bone and build a downtown Meijer store. :) I've heard they will tear the Hendrik Meijer building down (nasty concrete bunker). They also built a walkway under Three Mile to walk from the new warehouse building (which is really nice) to the Frederik Meijer building. It's a long walk and all outside, but at least they tunneled under. 

I agree with Regal- not really a loss as it wouldn't have happened in a million years... We need smart, agile companies growing up downtown. I think that will happen before you see many of the stagnant corporate entities move downtown (Spartan, Meijer, Amway, Steelcase).

Joe

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