WMU Cooley Law School building in downtown GR listed for $19.8M COURTESY PHOTO

WMU Cooley Law School building in downtown GR listed for $19.8M

BY Tuesday, April 06, 2021 01:55pm

GRAND RAPIDS — The Western Michigan University Cooley Law School building in downtown Grand Rapids is on the market for $19.8 million.

The 108,654-square-foot building is situated on 1.45 acres at 111 Commerce Ave. SW, and is the latest large piece of downtown real estate to hit the market within the past six months. 

Western Michigan University 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, said JLL Senior Vice President Jeff Karger. JLL is marketing the Grand Rapids property.

“It’s definitely a unique space, but is built for educational or institutional type use. But it could be converted to a change of use in the future,” Karger said. “It could be converted to office at some point, it has modern construction with amenities and is in really good shape.”

The five-story building contains a law library on the lower level and first floor, as well as a 30-seat computer lab classroom, four 100-seat classrooms, an assortment of smaller classrooms, five distance-education classrooms, two courtrooms, six group study rooms, a student lounge and offices for students and faculty members. 

“The office market in the Grand Rapids urban core has remained stable through the pandemic,” Karger said. “There is only a handful of opportunities to purchase a building of this quality and location in the market.”

The building is in the city’s central business district and was renovated in 2006 with a 59,000-square-foot addition on the south side of the existing building. 

“JLL and its marketing team really impressed us with their real estate expertise in the higher education ecosystem and extensive roster of past projects,” James McGrath, president and dean of the WMU Cooley Law School, said in a statement. “The building is an amazing space in an incredible location. We will miss it and know the new occupants will also cherish this very special building.”

WMU announced in November that it is cutting ties with Cooley Law School, kicking off a three-year process to formally end the law school’s affiliation with the university. WMU President Edward Montgomery cited the COVID-19 pandemic “transforming higher education” as one of the deciding reasons for the two entities to split. 

The law school plans to operate in the downtown building until September, Karger said. 

“I think the pandemic has definitely spurred some activity on underutilized property in the downtown area,” Karger said. 

The law school building comes after at least two other significant downtown properties were put on the market. The owner of 20 Monroe Live and The B.O.B. listed the concert venue space and attached restaurants in November, while the former Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts building downtown was listed in December.

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