Granville Custom Homes co-owner Steven Ramaekers said he believes that he and his business partner, Blake Hellbusch, would have loved to capitalize on the type of workspace that the duo will be offering area commercial businesses within the next few months when they jump-started their own operation several years back.
Ramaekers, Hellbusch and the rest of their team earlier this year moved into Granville’s new headquarters positioned on the west part of town, 4514 Howard Blvd., directly by the new Columbus Fire Station. This spring, ground was broken on the 12,600-square-foot warehouse facility that houses six, 2,100-square-foot working bays equipped with electricity, gas, heating, big overhead doors and other amenities perfect for smaller – or startup – commercial operations.
“These are going to be commercial rental bays for people to operate small commercial businesses out of,” Ramaekers said. “An example of a small commercial business would be an electrician, a plumber, a carpenter – pretty much all of the trades that I work with would make sense to rent and work out of one of these bays."
Two of the bays will be utilized by Granville and the additional four will be rented. Each bay will be available for $1,200 monthly on a three-year lease, or $1,275 monthly for a one-year lease. The price is consistent for Columbus’ going market rate, Ramaekers said, adding that a similar setup in Omaha or Lincoln would easily cost $1,500 monthly.
To the best of his knowledge, these are the only spaces of their kind locally. In addition to the commercial businesses previously mentioned, the spaces could also be used for something like seed corn storage or machine assembly.
“It’s not meant to be a storefront, it’s not meant to be retail, it’s just commercial space,” he said. “Sometimes it’s referred to as flex space … Usually, they (some of these business owners) will be working out of their garage or someplace that is less than adequate. This is designed so that they can have a real professional space with a lot of room, parking and access for their clients and their vendors.”
Although Ramaekers and Hellbusch are now providing these kinds of amenities to other business owners, it wasn’t too long ago that they were the two-man operation pretty much working out of whatever job site they landed on.
Teaming up in 2008, the Platte County natives saw the need for more housing development locally and jumped at the opportunity to test their luck at a new venture. The business needed a name, of course, and the pair landed on a title that encompassed their hometown roots. Ramaekers hails from the tiny village of Cornlea, and Hellbusch, Humphrey.
“We are from that Cornlea, Tarnov, Humphrey area up there, so Granville, the name, derives from the Granville Township where we both grew up,” Ramaekers said.
Granville’s first home was in an office suite positioned along 18th Avenue before relocating to a building on 33rd Avenue for about five years. During that time, Granville’s operation grew in size, servicing Columbus, Norfolk and several surrounding communities.
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For some time, Ramaekers and Hellbusch focused primarily on providing clients with the custom home, but over time, they also started tackling total property development.
“Eventually we got to development and building more houses on our own lots,” Ramaekers said. “And that became a mix of doing the custom stuff and doing some of the build-on-our-lots (work.) Which led into more developing of the lots … It’s a pretty good mix now.”
In Columbus, Granville’s hands are all over two big developments. Along 18th Avenue by Columbus Municipal Airport sits the Farmview Development. Currently, Phase 1 of the build is underway, which in about two to three years – when completed – will result in 34 townhome units. The entire project, he added, will be complete over five to 10 years.
West Elks, positioned near the Elks Country Club, has been under development for several years. The 23-lot development is about two-thirds full, Ramaekers said, adding that about three houses are built yearly on the site.
To continue serving the community while growing their business, its owners had to make some decisions about where that could best happen. The 2-acre plot of land that houses the new, 3,000-square-foot office and additional bay space, was previously vacant for more than a decade.
“We searched a long time to find the right property and we really like the location,” Hellbusch said. “(There's) the highway right there and the service road. Something that was also really important to us was a stoplight, and there’s one by Earl May so guys can get in and out safely. The fire station going there was also a part of our decision, for sure.”
Ramaekers echoed Hellbusch’s last comment, noting that they had been eyeing the plot for some time but were reluctant to pull the trigger because of how notoriously stagnant the west side of Columbus had been business-wise.
But with the knowledge that the fire department was making the commitment to positioning itself in that neck of the woods, Ramaekers said that he and Hellbusch felt confident making the move.
“I really believe that good development spurs other good development,” Ramaekers said. “… We are extremely happy with the results of the whole campus – the office and the shop. It’s ideal for what we are trying to do.”
Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com.