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Negotiations between Versa and GRCC holds Two Cities on the Edge of Their Seats

Former JCPenney storefront in The Shops at Westshore

Negotiations have begun for GRCC to purchase the old JCPenny, which is over 50,000 square feet, in Holland. The plan is to turn it into what is being called a consolidated GRCC Lakeshore Campus. And that news spread through GR and Holland like a wildfire. 

This would be a big change for GRCC since its Lakeshore Campus is currently spread over a span of roughly 20 square miles. There are four locations this semester, but there have been five. GRCC’s Vice President of Finance and Administration Lisa Freiburger estimates spending $421,000 next year leasing the locations. The goal is to make a $11-12 million investment, that GRCC will own, so there are no more leasing contracts and GRCC is literally “invested” in Ottawa county. 

“What we believe we’ll see is that moving from four locations to one will actually decrease costs to the college,” said GRCC President Bill Pink. But, he said, “I would say the main reasons we did this were other than being fiscally responsible. Number one is for our students.” The decision should make the school more accessible since it is off a highway and a bus line, he explained. 

“Secondly, I want to take the digging out of finding the GRCC Lakeshore campus(es),” President Pink said. “We’ll have a storefront, if you will, where people can see GRCC Lakeshore Campus” as he gestured a big sign in the air, “in a prominent place right off (highway) 31.”

“Lastly, we want to show Ottawa county that we are committed to our partnership(s) over there.”

He added, “Our out of district rate in Holland won’t see any kind of fluctuation based on this. Any fluctuation in the coming years will be based on the economy.” 

Programming at the new campus would probably not be exactly the same, but similar to what is offered now. President Pink said “What we see happening on this will mostly be contingent on what we hear from the communities.” 

Vice President for Finance and Administration Lisa Freiburger

Freiburger added, “We will do our best to replicate what programs we currently offer so students can continue to get a degree.” The money for the purchase would come from three sources, according to Lisa: State funding which is allotted year to year, predominantly based on what last years budget was; Local property taxes; and student tuition. 

“We certainly are expecting to continue to provide what we have out here currently,” agreed Dan Clark, Dean of the Lakeshore Campus and Academic Outreach, “as far as office location and work location, sure it’ll change. But we don’t expect to lose any professors.” If anything, Dan made it seem like there would be an addition by saying, “We do want to review our programs and see what we should add in the next couple of months.” 

In Holland, seven of seven store managers The Collegiate spoke to had heard of the new campus being proposed. Not all of them knew our president is facing impeachment. Most were unwilling or not allowed to comment publicly by their companies. 

Among the few who could comment is an Assistant Manager from Potbelly’s, Eric Satterlee, 25. He says “Business is alright, we do solid catering and have solid lunches which is cool. But we could definitely use some more business.”

“Us and Chipotle are the spot to get lunch around here so hopefully we can get some people in here and maybe even some people who want to walk from school to work.” 

Emma Mendez, a 20 year old Assistant Manager of Disc Trader was excited about the news. “GRCC has students from all over Michigan, so hopefully we can expand our customer base.” 

The President expects negotiations to be over in two months or less.