GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Cooley Law School’s Grand Rapids campus has hit the commercial real estate market, and is listed for sale at $19.8 million.
Cooley announced in August 2020 that it would close the campus in August 2021, citing declining enrollment. Commercial real estate firm JLL is marketing the five-story, 108,654-square-foot building, at 111 Commerce Ave. SW in downtown Grand Rapids.
Jeff Karger, senior vice president at JLL’s Grand Rapids office, said the building provides a “great opportunity for an institutional or education user to expand into Grand Rapids at a price well below replacement costs.”
“The office market in the Grand Rapids urban core has remained stable through the pandemic,” he said. “There is only a hand full of opportunities to purchase a building of this quality and location in the market.”
Cooley is expected to occupy the building until September, said Ashley Sams, a spokesperson for JLL.
The building features a first-floor law library, a 30-seat computer lab, four 100-seat classrooms, numerous smaller classrooms, five distance-education classrooms, six group study rooms, two courtrooms, a student lounge, and offices, according to a news release from JLL.
Cooley opened its Grand Rapids campus in 2006.
In August 2020, Cooley President and Dean James McGrath said enrollment at the law school had fallen to 100 students, down from 700 a decade ago. He said keeping the Grand Rapids campus open with so few students “became a real deficit builder” that could not be sustained by Cooley.
The vacancy rate for non owner-occupied office space over 5,000 square feet in Grand Rapids in the first-quarter of this year is 11%, up from 9.7% during the same time last year, according to a market analysis from JLL.
“The Grand Rapids office market continues to struggle amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the analysis, which notes that vacancies are “trending upward,” and that rent prices have fallen to $18.19 per-square-foot. That’s down 2.3% year over year.
“Leasing activity has remained subdued, as tenants wait out the pandemic and reassess their space needs moving forward,” the analysis states.
The JLL analysis says that part of the increase in the vacancy rate is attributed to Kellogg vacating a floor of space at a building it leases at 5300 Patterson Ave. SE. However, the report notes that “not all news was bad,” and pointed to Lockton Companies opening a 6,000 square foot office at 38 Commerce Ave. SW and DYS Media “taking a small suite at 2424 Burton Street SE.”
“In general, the commercial real estate market, specifically in the urban core, actually has stayed pretty leveled-off,” Karger said.
“My counterparts on the coasts saw a lot of dramatic changes. Grand Rapids was insulated somewhat from that. Most of the tenants in the downtown market, specifically credit-worthy tenants, are all paying their rent, whether they’re in their space or not.”
In the non-office real estate market, venues in Grand Rapids that have been listed for sale include The B.O.B., 20 Monroe Live and The Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts.
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