Forever Forward

Campus in construction with addition of new building

By Peter Hubbard
News Editor

Between the grinding of machinery, flocks of workers clad in hard-hats, and armadas of construction vehicles swarming about campus, Schoolcraft’s average student can deduct something significant is in production. From the Liberal Arts to Continuing Education the buzz is building, because the buzz is about a building.

Naturally, our growing campus needs more room to prosper, so steps are underway to increase the student and staff’s educational habitat. With gears in motion and construction full-steam ahead, it won’t be long before Schoolcraft unveils its latest addition to campus: a recently renovated building on the corner of Seven Mile and Haggerty.

Before bringing up any big transformations to the college, spending big bucks must be assumed. Even though the money is currently being invested on renovating an existing structure instead of erecting a new one, the price of progress will not be cheap.

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“Our investment in the new building’s renovation is twelve million dollars. We paid three million for the empty building, which is 110, 000 square feet. To put that in perspective the VisTa-Tech building cost thirteen million to raise, which was only 50,000 square feet. Overall the college is getting a much better deal in acquiring this existing building versus constructing another structure on the property,” states Schoolcraft President Dr. Jeffress. With such a uniquely tangible opportunity, Schoolcraft’s Board of Trustees was unanimous in making the call to move foward.

College property since the end of February 2013, and under renovation since May, the building is tentatively set to open in June of 2014, in time for next year’s summer and fall semesters.

It is apparent buying the building was a solid deal, but why was the purchase deemed necessary?

Dr. Jeffress explains, “The reasons for buying the property are we didn’t know what the potential buyers would do with the building, we’re taking care of our needs, expanding parking services, giving students a new outlet, and protecting Schoolcraft’s interests.”

Months ago the entire Six-to-Seven-Mile block between Haggerty and I-275 all belonged to campus, except for the corner lot the new building is fixed on. After the purchase, this block became exclusively educational property. That avoids the problem of unfavorable tenants buying the lot next door.

For most, the obvious question is how the new building will be utilized. More than a decorative ornament, the new facility will serve a variety of functions that are needed by the college.

Mrs. Beth LaForest, Facilities Management and Finance and Business and Services Planning and Technology Coordinator, has the answer students are looking for.

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“The first floor will be made up of nine classrooms and a data center. The second floor will house Human Resources, Marketing and Communications, Continuing Education and Professional Development, the Schoolcraft Foundation, and the President’s Suite. The third floor will house two University Partnerships and the Business Development Center. Finally, the fourth floor will house the Business and Finance Division, which includes Payroll, Accounts Payable, Construction and Design, Purchasing, and the VP/CFO’s office.”

The majority of the new facility’s offices are currently housed in the McDowell Center and Administration building. Many Continuing Education and Professional Development functions will be served in its walls. This frees up a lot space across campus for new classrooms.

One of the most intriguing elements of the Seven Mile building has to be its data center. “The Data Center is not a college computer room; it’s a facility we lease to a broker that leases it to many companies. It’s a backup place to store data.” Dr. Jeffress reveals, clarifying many questions. Basically, the data center is a tightly secured place where invaluable data can be safe from any catastrophes.

For many students, however, the greatest asset to the new property will be the additional parking spaces around the structure.  “The Seven Mile building parking lot will have approximately 400 additional spots, but by the end of all the projects that are planned for the campus we will have upwards of 800 additional parking spaces,” LaForest states happily. To illustrate that significance, currently 1,755 spaces occupy campus, making those additions almost a 50% increase! Not to mention the lot opens up new pathways for students to get on and off major roads. Plans are also under development for housing natural gas generators adjacent to the building, generating 1.5 megawatts per unit. Just one generator will have the potential for powering three buildings on campus.

New Building Construction

Overall, the college has some significant plans in motion over the next year. In the pursuit of progress Schoolcraft will continue to invest in its future and expand in the best interest of its students.  Purchasing and re-developing a nearby property in the name of education is but a myriad of steps that will be taken as the college moves forever forward.It is an undeniable truth that every living thing needs to evolve. Schoolcraft is no exception—adapting to a changing future as it thrives and grows.