Christian Reformed Church lists Grand Rapids office building for … – Crain's Grand Rapids Business

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The Christian Reformed Church in North America’s Grand Rapids office building is on the market for $7.35 million, following a vote last week from the denomination’s U.S. ministry board. 
The Christian Reformed Church in North America’s offices at 1700 28th St. SE in Grand Rapids have served the denomination’s U.S. operation for more than 65 years. The decision to sell the 130,000-square-foot building is based on the rising cost of maintaining the aging infrastructure, fewer people working in the office, and a need for a new office design to accommodate a more flexible post-COVID-19 working environment, said Dan DeKam, director of U.S. ministry operations. 
The building serves as offices for the denomination’s leadership, and houses other organizations run by the CRCNA. The building also is a hub for administrative services for the denomination’s 120 missionaries, DeKam said.
“The pandemic forced staff into different ways of working and, although the future of office work isn’t entirely clear, we do know it needs to be flexible — for the health of employees and the good of the organization,” DeKam said. “It is time for a new shape.”
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The cost to maintain the building is also becoming “financially unsustainable,” DeKam said. 
“The building at 1700 28th Street is too big and doesn’t have flexibility for the future,” DeKam said. “The property, especially being at the 28th Street and Kalamazoo corner, is also likely worth more to someone else. Tapping into the existing value of the land and moving — either to another location on the existing property or to a site nearer connected organizations — would open the possibility for more shared spaces and resources.”
The building on the roughly 11-acre property has received various additions over the years, said Doug Taatjes, the listing agent for the property at NAI Wisinski of West Michigan.
“This could serve a developer who combines some outlots and potentially reusing the building in different ways, or it could be a corporate headquarters for someone else,” Taatjes said. “It’s got some great spaces in it and a beautiful atrium, outdoor patio, great meeting rooms and the warehousing is excellent.”
The Christian Reformed Church’s membership has mostly been declining for the past few decades since it peaked at 316,415 members in 1992, according to a report from DataWise Consulting LLC that pulled from CRCNA yearbook information. The denomination’s membership was at an all-time low of 204,664 as of 2022.
The denomination also has received pushback in recent years for its stance on LGBTQ issues, and for codifying these views in a June 2022 vote by denomination leadership that approved a list of “sexual immorality” that included “adultery, premarital sex, extra-marital sex, polyamory, pornography, and homosexual sex,” according to reporting from Christianity Today. The vote occurred at the CRC’s annual synod meeting at Calvin University after multiple days of debate.
Despite the membership decline, DeKam said the decision to sell the 28th Street building was driven by the relocation last year of World Renew, a nonprofit operated by the denomination, and a change of workflow spurred by the pandemic.
“(World Renew) leaving took away a significant portion of our office space needs, so now we’re just using a small fraction of the building,” DeKam said. “Not everyone realizes the inefficiencies of that. We see this (decision) as a very positive thing as a denomination, and there are better ways to utilize this space.”
The decision to sell the building was part of a proposal that the U.S. ministry board approved to adapt to the changing needs of the denomination. Staff are in the early stages of looking at other locations to serve the denomination, DeKam said. 
The proposal approved by the board states that the new space would follow universal design standards and be accessible to all, and contain spaces designed to be more flexible for users. The proposed smaller, more efficient space would be designed to be more adaptable to changing workplace needs.
“To adopt a phrase borrowed from a local church, the new workplace will ‘dignify the ordinary,’ by clearly communicating to staff, visitors and passersby that the people working and gathering there have a meaningful and significant job to do and a well-designed and earth-friendly place to do it in,” DeKam said. “But, in keeping with the character of the denomination, it won’t be showy or extravagant. Instead, the space should communicate stewardship and an overall value of ‘every square inch’ being intentional so that our part of God’s kingdom work can be accomplished.”
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Crain’s Grand Rapids Business launched in 2023, bringing together MiBiz, the Grand Rapids Business Journal and Crain Communications to create the top source of business news, analysis and information in West Michigan.

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