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Slump hits builders close to home

Sat., March 22, 2008

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – How bad is the housing market? Bad enough that a cash-strapped builders group is forced to sell its own home.

Three years after moving into its posh new $3.5 million headquarters, the Home & Building Association of Greater Grand Rapids is putting the building up for sale.

Chief executive Judy Barnes said the association is hampered by the weak economy, a sluggish residential building industry and declining membership. The setbacks have resulted in some pledges made toward paying for construction of the 15,000-square-foot headquarters going unfulfilled.

The association spent $1.5 million of its own money on the building. The remainder was to be covered by donations and the sale of its previous headquarters.

Barnes declined to release the amount still owed on the new building, but said the association was not in financial trouble.

“Like the rest of our industry, it is a little slow right now,” said John Overbeck, president of the association’s board of directors. “We’ve looked at it for the last year and a half, done everything we could to weigh our decision.”


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