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Thursday, 11 September 2014 12:38

MCC to purchase former Muskegon Chronicle building for downtown campus

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MCC to purchase former Muskegon Chronicle building for downtown campus PHOTO: Kristi Kortman

Muskegon Community College plans to buy the former Muskegon Chronicle building at 981 Third Street for its long-awaited downtown campus, MiBiz has learned.

The college has a purchase offer into The Herald Newspapers Company Inc. for $700,000 and expects to close on the building in 60 to 90 days, said MCC president Dale Nesbary. If all goes as planned, MCC will take over the building – as-is – at the end of a 45-day period for due diligence. 

Upon closing the college will then seek out architectural design and general contractors to complete the renovation, expected to begin in the first quarter of 2015. Renovations are expected to take one year. 

MCC has a budget of $7.2 million for site acquisition, design and renovations. 

College officials toured multiple sites in the downtown area before selecting the Chronicle Building, Nesbary said. The choice came down to the site’s ideal size. 

“This is adaptive re-use at its finest,” Nesbary said. “The square footage was exactly what we needed.”

If all goes as planned, the approximately 80,000-square-foot Chronicle Building could soon house the MCC’s Applied Technology, Entrepreneurial Studies and Experiential Learning departments, Nesbary said. The campus is also expected to have a “Makerspace” where area businesses and students can collaborate on projects.

The three-story building is in good condition despite being vacant since 2012, Nesbary said, noting the facility’s HVAC and Internet fiber lines should meet the school’s needs.

The downtown campus has been a long-awaited project for college officials. The issue has been before voters twice and was narrowly defeated in the fall of 2012, as MiBiz previously reported. 

The infusion of as many as 900 students into the downtown area is expected to be a boon for the downtown, Nesbary said. Several new restaurants, breweries and residential developments have popped up in recent years. This summer also marked the opening of the downtown Muskegon Farmers Market

Economic developers in the downtown area are thrilled with the investment as well. Jonathan Seyferth, executive director of Downtown Muskegon Now, told MiBiz that the college’s choice of building and its location are ideal for spurring additional investment. 

“The Chronicle Building is the best choice for MCC,” Seyferth said. “It’s really going to be a catalyst for downtown and it shows outsiders that there are stakeholders with a commitment to the core of downtown.”

In the long term, Seyferth hopes to see developers start to consider increased residential opportunities to support the influx of people coming into the downtown core. 

The college is still attempting to work out details such as a partnership with the Muskegon Area Transit System to help students get between the two campuses, Nesbary said. However, he added that he is confident the business community and the broader region will be supportive of the final product. 

“This is a partnership between Muskegon Community College and multiple businesses in the community to develop talent who can produce the products they need,” he said. “Hopefully, the community will be proud of what we are trying to complete.”

Read 7913 times Last modified on Friday, 12 September 2014 13:49

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