La-Z-Boy Plans $50 Million Investment In New HQ

Posted on August 17, 2012

La-Z-Boy Incorporated has announced a major plan to construct a new world headquarters on a sprawling campus in Monroe that will keep its 500 employees here in an investment that could reach $50 million.

The plan includes purchasing about 80 acres from the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and creating an environmentally friendly campus with an entrance off Stewart Rd.

State Sen. Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, has been working with company officials and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to keep La-Z-Boy in Monroe after it began exploring options for a new world headquarters. There apparently was stiff competition from Ohio, which was attempting to lure the company there.

“This is monstrously huge,” Sen. Richardville said Thursday night. “La-Z-Boy has been part of our culture here for generations. This is really exciting.”

Kurt L. Darrow, chairman, president and chief executive officer of La-Z-Boy, said in a statement that the company is celebrating 85 years of its existence in Monroe and is committed to the community. He said much still needs to be finalized, but those close to the negotiations said clearly the project is moving forward.

“The World Headquarters project is the start of an exciting new chapter for La-Z-Boy,” Mr. Darrow said in his statement. “We are enthused about our potential purchase agreement with the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and with the possibility of staying in Monroe.”

Jim McDevitt, Frenchtown Township supervisor, said Thursday that he also has been in discussions with La-Z-Boy, which made an announcement to its employees at its facility on N. Telegraph Rd. in a company-wide meeting Thursday afternoon.

“Obviously we want to keep those jobs in Monroe,” Mr. McDevitt said. “They want to keep the headquarters here. It’s been in the works for a while.”

Part of the plan could include razing the current headquarters and selling the property to developers. However, company officisals said the future of the company’s existing headquarters building has not been determined.

“The company would seek options for redeveloping the facility and grounds in a way that would be beneficial to the community,” the statement read.

According to the company statement, the project includes developing a landmark office campus on a chunk of property that is mostly farmland leased by the sisters.

Final approval of the massive project is contingent upon approval of state and local incentives, but Sen. Richardville said he is confident the plan will become a reality. He said the Michigan Economic Development Corporation has been involved with discussions and incentives and grants were made available to keep La-Z-Boy here.

Part of the plan includes the construction of environmentally designed buildings or buildings that was especially appealing to the sisters. In its statement, La-Z-Boy said the structures will be certified by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED. The campus also will be environmentally friendly.

The company said it hopes to preserve a significant amount of green space on its campus, including the maintenance of an endangered oak savannah ecosystem. Revenue from this agreement would enable IHM to continue the development of its campus as a learning lab for sustainable living, as well as to sustain the mission and assist with the congregation’s retirement needs, the statement said.

The agreement is between two of Monroe’s most iconic and historically significant entities. La-Z-Boy began in 1927 and the IHM was founded here in 1845.

“The La-Z-Boy project will demonstrate that sustainability incorporates economic, social and environmental and spiritual values,” said Sister Janet Ryan.” That is why this project is so appealing to IHM.”

Company officials said discussions with the state, the county, the City of Monroe, Frenchtown Township and others are continuing. Mr. Darrow said incentives, re-zoning, permits and other approvals must be finalized before a final and official decision about the new facility will be made, most likely by the end of the year.

The company has considered a number of potential options for the relocation of its headquarters and has narrowed those choices to Monroe and other sites in southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio.

But Sen. Richardville said he is confident the plan will become a reality. “They want to stay in Monroe,” he said. “I am quite confident this will happen.”

By Ray Kisonas,