Pyramid Campus agreement with Steelcase falls apart

Posted at 10:03 PM, May 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-09 17:42:52-04
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect a response provided to FOX 17 from a spokesperson for Steelcase.

CALEDONIA, Mich -- Plans for a cutting edge technology school in the old Steelcase pyramid building are in jeopardy, according to those behind the Pyramid Campus.

It's been in the headlines for more than a year, as organizers planned to create an innovative campus that bridges the gap between school and the high tech work force.

But organizers tell FOX 17 that Steelcase is reneging on its promise to sell the iconic pyramid building along with the South Beltline.

According to Pyramid Campus co-founder Jerry Zandstra, Steelcase is now seriously considering another offer from an out-of-state investor for the building as soon as this coming Monday.

Zandstra told FOX 17 Friday night he's 'heartbroken' by the development after claiming the group already had several partnerships lined up with groups including NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense. GR Makers was even planning to open a new location at the facility.

"The real loss is the opportunity for for the West Michigan community," Zandstra told FOX 17 by phone Friday night. "The only currency we have at this point is public opinion."

A spokesperson for Steelcase told FOX 17 the agreement with Education Campus Investors was terminated by ECI after it determine in early April it could not fulfill the closing requirements of the agreement before the April 30 deadline.

Since the transaction was terminated by ECI, Steelcase decided to evaluate other sale options, according to Laura Van Slyke, a spokesperson for Steelcase.

In early April, ECI determined that the closing requirements of the agreement could still not be met by the close date of April 30, and decided to terminate the agreement.

Zandstra told FOX 17 that ECI had asked for more time to complete their due diligence after discovering problems with the building, including those that had to be addressed at the state level. Zandstra alleges Steelcase refused to give additional time, leaving ECI with no choice but to end the agreement.

Zandstra provided FOX 17 with an email exchange between ECI and Steelcase representatives which he says shows they had reached a new deal with Steelcase two weeks after terminating the first one, but Steelcase is not honoring it.

Van Slyke said Steelcase continues to support ECI’s mission and vision for the education hub, but wishes them the best as they also evaluate other options.

Since news of the fall out broke, dozens of people have posted on the Pyramid Campus Facebook page in support of the initiative, many asking Steelcase to reconsider the agreement.