GRAND RAPIDS, MI - Office furniture giant Steelcase Inc.'s offer to donate its iconic pyramid building to a novel educational endeavor has suffered a potential setback. Gov. Rick Snyder indicated he will not support $5.5 million in start-up funds for the proposed project, according to MLive.
Steelcase, which failed to attact an acceptable offer for its former headquarters and research and development laboratory, sought to donate the 664,000-square-foot facility to a newly established non-profit group that would use it as a STEM (short for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) focused education hub for students of all ages.
A host of questions surrounded the non-profit group - Pyramid P20 STEM Education Hub - and its intentions. Among them:
• Who is driving the non-profit and its vision?
• How would the new program interact and/or potentially impact existing educational programs in the area?
• Who will pay for programs and maintenance of the massive facility?
MLIVE reported that State Sen. Mark Jansen (R-Gaines Township) was discouraged that the governor would not support the supplemental appropriation to support the project. "I think this is an amazing opportunity for the State of Michigan to have a (complete) STEM system that is nowhere else to be found, so I am not done with it,” said Jansen, who said it is a good idea and praised Steelcase for its generosity," Jansen said.
Last fall, Steelcase drastically reduced the asking price for its pyramid building situated on 125 acres, formally known as Steelcase's Corporate Development Center, to $19.5 million. That was well below the $111 million price tag that Steelcase spent in 1989 to develop the seven-story building. It includes 333,000 square feet of office space, 242,000 square feet of research and development space; plus a 15,000-square-foot cafeteria, 12,500-square-foot data center and an 8,000-square-foot photo studio.
Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.