GRAND RAPIDS - Varnum LLP, a leading Michigan-based law firm, has renewed its 63,000-square-foot lease in downtown Grand Rapids' highly-visible Bridgewater Place.
Colliers West Michigan worked with Varnum on the 10-year renewal, which signals a bright future for downtown office space after the COVID-19 pandemic forced many employees to work from home.
"Varnum has made a long-term commitment to downtown Grand Rapids, and it's a great sign that companies are coming back to the office, "said David Wiener, senior vice president at Colliers. "The office market struggled through COVID-19 as our downtown office buildings sat empty, and we look forward to restored activity in the coming months."
The building, which was acquired by Los Angeles-based Hertz Investment Group in 2013 after past years of skyrocketing debt and vacancy rates, has experienced a resurgence in recent years. The high-profile property sustained occupancy even as COVID-19 stymied the office market.
Few deals got done during the last year, though activity is beginning to ramp up as employers begin to safely bring employees back to the office. In Q1, the vacancy rate was 5.9 percent. Experts expect that number to decrease as office life returns to a new normal.
"While stay-at-home orders and company resizing certainly decreased office occupancy, the pandemic was well-managed across all Hertz properties and ensured that primary assets like Bridgewater Place were positioned to meet our tenants' future needs," said Zev Hertz, president and CEO of Hertz Investment Group.
Varnum will occupy four floors and is planning a large-scale renovation of its space to meet the needs of its talent and clients.
"This new lease is a reflection of our commitment to West Michigan, our clients, and having an office space where talented professionals want to work," said Scott Hill, Varnum's executive partner. "Our planned major office renovation under this new agreement allows us to take the many lessons learned from the past year and create a state-of-the-art environment that fosters collaboration as a firm and with our clients. There is palpable, positive energy in all of our offices as we re-engage in person after a prolonged period of working remotely, and we are excited for the future."