When Sally Tucker looks around Grand Rapids, she counts the cranes.
Not the birds, but the large mechanical structures that signal more construction underway.
“As the downtown fills up, there area lot of cranes in the air right now,” she said, pointing to the $72 million, 15-story tower anchored by Chemical Bank, Hyatt Hotel and the law firm Warner Norcross & Judd.
That’s not the only place work is underway. “As you look around the city, there’s probably at least four more cranes in the air as we speak,” said Tucker, who is managing director of West Michigan for Bradley Company.
That all means opportunity for those helping Grand Rapids continue to grow, but can also mean challenges for buyers or sellers.
Despite the construction, vacancy for commercial real estate is down and occupancy is up. The city is growing and downtown is gaining tenants and residents. Parking has become more precious downtown as the construction continues, sometimes on real estate that had provided spaces for vehicles. (The city touts 20,000 parking spaces downtown, has a great “walk score” and is in the top 50 of bike-friendly American cities, according to Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.)
The booming downtown, although mostly positive, also means additional challenges to finding solutions for what clients need. For some, that solution is the suburbs. “Occupancy is way up in the suburbs, which has been necessitated by occupancy being way up in the central business district,” she said.
The suburban option only expands the footprint of potential solutions that Tucker and others on her team can offer. “Multiple location options translates into a lot of organizations finding Grand Rapids very attractive,” she said.
The healthcare industry continues be a growth driver. The Michigan State University Research Center opened in the fall and there are already talks of expansion.
Grand Rapids also continues to live up to its name as Beer City USA. Founders Brewing Co. expanded in recent years and new microbreweries have continued to open up across the city. In addition, Michigan-based brewers have expanded with locations in Grand Rapids. Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales opened a taproom on the west side of the city and New Holland Brewing became part of a neighborhood with the first urban location of the Meijer grocery store.
Creativity is the key in the busy marketplace. “Bradley Company is being very creative in trying to find solutions for people,” Tucker said. “Because Bradley is full-service we can broker it, we can build it and we can manage it. Our diverse offerings make it very desirable for clients to use our services,” she said.