Former Steelcase pyramid may soon have new tenants

GAINES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Kent County’s iconic pyramid building could be getting a new tenant.

The former Steelcase building at 60th and East Paris is now owned by Norman Properties of Reno, Nevada. The facility is being considered for a major project, but details are short as to what the future holds for the Gaines Township facility.

“Innovative” and “one-of-a-kind” are the sort of words and phrases being used to describe the proposal. But until the building’s new owners reveal their tenants, everything else is just speculation.

“I’m not confirming anything other than to say we got a lot of interest and demand in people coming to Michigan, which is exciting,” Gov. Rick Snyder told reporters when asked about the project on Monday.

Sources told 24 Hour News 8 Political Reporter Rick Albin the project would require changes to state law. None of the lawmakers we reached out to Monday would comment directly on the project, or the legislation needed to make it happen. Gaines Township Rep. Ken Yonker would only say he’s excited for Michigan and Gaines Township.

The 660,000-square-foot, seven-story pyramid opened as the Steelcase Research and Development facility in 1989.

“It will also symbolize to Michigan and the world the creative spirit and energy of Steelcase,” then-Gov. James Blanchard said during dedication ceremonies for the pyramid.

There are no cubicles. The 675 creative-type employees who worked in the building when it opened sat in wide opened spaces occupying the five above-grade floors with a goal of spreading the creativity.

“Having a casual conversation, seeing what someone else is doing, may trigger an interesting idea that would lead to new developments in someone’s own work,” said Steelcase officials on opening day.

If a worker did need to get away from it all, there were quiet areas dubbed “think tanks.” The building also features large labs to test out creative ideas.

As Steelcase downsized, the Pyramid was no longer needed. The company moved out in 2012

In early 2014, Steelcase was prepared to simply give the pyramid to a nonprofit that would have turned it into a school. Then, after some hiccups, it was decided the nonprofit would buy the property for $7.5 million — but that plan fell through in May.

That was because another company wanted to buy the building: Reno, Nevada-based Norman Properties. Norman closed on the property in late May. A representative for Norman said then that the goal was to renovate the building and then sell it to one tenant.

Now, the building’s possible future is a matter of confidentiality.

Gov. Snyder addressed the hesitancy to release details about the pyramid’s plans on Monday.

“We usually have issues with confidentiality with the MEDC and such,” he said. “But what I’m happy to say is we have a lot of people interested in setting up in Michigan.”

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