Steelcase announces sale of pyramid building


CALEDONIA, Mich. (WOOD) — Steelcase Inc. has sold the iconic pyramid building in southern Kent County after four years of marketing.

According to Steelcase officials, Norman Properties approached them with a cash offer after the termination of a previous contract took place. The deal closed on Thursday, but the terms of the transaction are confidential.

Norman Properties is based out of Reno, Nevada, with significant experience with re-purposing corporate buildings. In 2009, they also bought the former Pfizer Inc. Building, located at 298 on Portage Road in Portage where they have spent $7.5 million on renovations. The building is now partially leased.

Norman Properties has plans to renovate the pyramid building and sell it to one tenant, according to Tom DeBoer, Principal with Colliers International West Michigan, who is representing the company. The company would like to hold out for a year or two for a single tenant, but if that doesn’t work out they may split up the building for multiple tenants. DeBoer says they don’t expect anyone to move in for up to two years.

“It’s a small group of people who run the company. They make quick decisions. They are not drawn into a big bureaucracy and their not reporting to a bunch of share holders. It’s all private. They know what it takes. They’re not afraid of a project like this,” said DeBoer.

The building presents a unique challenge for the new owner when it comes to finding an operation that would be interested in a 660,000 square foot, 5-story pyramid in the middle of a field.

“Usually, you are lucky if you find someone who can take up 200,000 square feet. Actually in this town, 100,000 square feet is consider a huge deal,” said DeBoer, who says the search for tenant will probably start with the usual suspects — like the largest corporations in the area.

“Maybe, but not necessarily, there will be some interest there,” said DeBoer. “You look at institutional users, universities — that kind of stuff.”

Earlier this month, Steelcase announced they had parted ways with Pyramid Campus, a group behind a proposed school, and the deal was off.

DeBoer says the group has been talking with the new owners.

“That vision really fits well in this building, said DeBoer.

From the pendulum in the middle of the building to the commercial studios, the pyramid building has some pretty unique features beyond its shape. DeBoer says in the end, the new owner might just opt to take a chance on a company with growth potential.

“We may end up taking a bet on one of those companies, move them in. Maybe they come in with 100,000. We know that with time they will fit the building,” said DeBoer.

Either way, DeBoer is confident there is a tenant out there somewhere.

The Steelcase Pyramid has been on the market since late 2012.

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