WMU board approves sale of Grand Rapids East Beltline property for $6.25M

BY Sunday, September 19, 2021 03:52pm

GRAND RAPIDS — The Western Michigan University Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Friday to sell the school’s 11-acre property located along East Beltline Avenue Southeast for $6.25 million. 

The Grand Rapids campus served as one of Western Michigan University’s (WMU) regional sites and was used for instructional purposes and to host conferences. The property is located near Calvin University at 2333 East Beltline Ave. SE and contains a 38,000-square-foot building. 

“(The East Beltline campus) was closed in 2020 as we looked at COVID-19 and our needs in Grand Rapids,” said Board Treasurer Jan Van Der Kley. “The strategic decision was to consolidate in the downtown facility and for that to be our flagship (location).”

WMU’s satellite campus in downtown Grand Rapids is located at 200 Ionia Ave. SW. The location is WMU’s largest regional location for WMU with more than 1,500 students.

Grand Mere Development LLC has offered to buy the property as is for $6.25 million. The university is working with a broker to help with the sale, and it was deemed a fair market price, Van Der Kley told the trustees during the Sept. 17 meeting. 

“The purchase agreement is underway and hopefully it will be finalized next week,” she said. “Many of the terms have been agreed upon.”

Higher ed consolidation

The sale approval is the latest among higher education buildings that have been put on the market in the past couple years as part of consolidation moves. 

The Western Michigan University Cooley Law School building in downtown Grand Rapids was listed by the university in April 2021 for $19.8 million. WMU and Lansing-based Cooley Law School launched a formal affiliation in 2013. The entities use the Grand Rapids facility for educational purposes but operations are being consolidated in Lansing as Western and Cooley begin a three-year process to formally end their partnership. 

The Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts also recently relocated from its former space at 2 Fulton St. SW in downtown Grand Rapids, which was listed for $8.7 million in 2020. The building is still on the market. The move was because of financial challenges compounded by the pandemic, UICA leaders have said.

The Ferris State University board of trustees finalized a decision in June to move UICA operations to the Woodbridge North Ferris building at 17 Pearl St., which is on the campus of Ferris’ Kendall College of Art and Design. A grand opening celebration at the new location was held on Sept. 9.

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