32 Market Ave SW - Suite 200
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Telecom company grows into $1.1M building downtown

Mike Nichols Grand Rapids Business Journal
Published 4 / 15 / 15

You know business is good when you can buy not just the basement your company started in, but also the entire building.

Grand Rapids-based VDS has done just that, becoming the owner and sole tenant of a three-story building in downtown Grand Rapids, at 210 Front Ave. SW.

VDS is provider of unified telecom services for businesses.

The company was born in the basement of the Front Avenue building in 1989.

For years, VDS remained there, along with previous tenant Feyen Zylstra, before moving out around 2000, because it needed more space.

Now, after having spent the last seven years in a roughly 9,000-10,000-square-foot space in Grand Rapids, at 2350 Oak Industrial Dr. NE, VDS President R. James Kress has purchased the Front Avenue building and moved his company into the 14,000-square-foot space, said Kim Schermer, head of marketing, VDS.

Romar Associates sold the corporate office building to 210 Front LCC for $1.1 million on Oct. 1, 2015, according to city records.

New space

Kress always loved the building and always wanted to be in downtown Grand Rapids, so when Feyen Zylstra, an electrical firm, outgrew the building, he knew he had to go back to the property, Schermer said.

VDS moved its roughly 60-person staff into the building last fall.

Schermer added that VDS has plans to add more staff and offerings to its roster soon.

The building has created “enhanced operational efficiencies and a more collaborative environment,” Kress said.

“The space will help us continue to grow and evolve to keep pace with our clients' needs,” he said.

Renovation project

Concept Design in Grand Rapids served as architect on a $266,000 renovation project to make the space more suitable for VDS.

Orion Construction in Grand Rapids served as the project’s general contractor.

The project, which was recently completed, included updates to the building’s technology, board room, stairwell, bathrooms and office spaces, as well as a new common space.

“The 1930s riverfront building has great history and the former owners did a fantastic job preserving much of the historical character on the inside of the building,” Kress said. “It was very important to me to keep that historical character through the renovation, while keeping the working space functional and relevant."