Commerce Point office building sold
December 6, 2016
By Dillon Davis
The historic Commerce Pointe office complex in downtown Battle Creek is under new ownership.
The former United States Post Office building at 77 E. Michigan Ave. has been sold from Waterland Battle Creek Properties to Ryan Leestma of Grand Rapids-based Leestma Management. A Muskegon resident, Leestma, 37, is the founder and owner of a Grand Rapids tech contractor ISI, which specializes in data, communications and staffing solutions.
Terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed.
Commerce Pointe has been the home of the Battle Creek Enquirer since 2011. It also houses offices for Generations Financial Planning and Wealth Management, Integrated Health Partners, Farm Bureau Insurance, DMA Claims Services and Otis Elevator.
Leestma said another Grand Rapids-based company, NAI Wisinski of West Michigan, now will manage the property's day-to-day and leasing operations.
"This is a great property because it's close to City Hall and a number of other municipal services buildings," Leestma said. "That's a big deal to me because it means there's always going to be a demand for this property, which is what I Iook for in (investments) — stable returns. Curb appeal is extremely important to me and in terms of attractiveness and architecture, this building probably is, I think it's the best-looking building I have in my portfolio."
The building was constructed in the early 1900s for use as a United States Post Office. It was deeded to the city of Battle Creek and Calhoun County by the federal government in October 1972 to become the Hall of Justice, according to city archives. Once the Justice Center was built at 161 E. Michigan Ave., the city and its Downtown Development Authority became the building's owners, though with deed restrictions to meet requirements of the National Park Service and its Program of Preservation and Utilization.
In the 1990s, private developers Bob Deal and Bob Cook turned the facility into an office complex, Enquirer archives show.
The Enquirer occupies the building's largest suite, where its newsroom and advertising staff share a former courtroom on the first floor. It moved to Commerce Pointe after more than 60 years at 155 W. Van Buren St., now the home of Pastor Ivan Lee's New Harvest Christian Center.
Deal said that he and Cook determined it was the right time to unload the property after having possession of it for 17 years.
"We’re both in our 70s and we want to slow down and find other things to do," Deal said. "Right away, we found someone that was interested, Ryan Leestma. We worked out a deal with him and put it together and on Friday, he became the proud new owner."
The 26,015-square-foot building was listed for sale at $1.8 million. Deal declined to share details of the sale, but said "it wasn't that," adding "we couldn't find a market for it at that price." He said the agreement with Leetsma made sense for both sides and will allow for him to focus on another property he owns at 5701 W. Dickman Road.
"Battle Creek now has a young, aggressive entrepreneur that wants to add (to his portfolio)," he said. "At this point, Bob (Cook) and I are looking to protect our castles; he’s looking to expand his kingdom. He’s going to do a nice job."