NMU purchases bank property for Master Plan

Cody Boyer

The NMU Board of Trustees moved to purchase the mBank building property during their December meeting, moving one step closer to meeting NMU’s Campus Master Plan.

On Monday, Dec. 23, 2013, the board authorized the $425,000 purchase of the mBank property located at 1400 Presque Isle Ave. as part of a 2008 plan entitled the Campus Master Plan which aims at growing the NMU campus into one entity rather than two.

Gavin Leach, vice president for Finance and Administration, said the board has been aiming to meet the guidelines of the Master Plan during the process of acquiring the property.

““If you look at our Campus Master Plan, we identified areas of key importance we would need to acquire in order to complete the plan,” Leach said. “If something goes in [that space], it may have a negative impact on the institution. It is all a part of the evaluation.”

Cindy Paavola, NMU director of Communications and Marketing, said the property acquisition at the corner of Presque Isle Avenue and Fair Avenue will make it possible for the NMU sports complex to connect with the rest of the campus.

“We would like to have the opportunity, over a long period of time, to determine how that space is used because it is a space that, in the past, has divided one portion of our campus from another portion of our campus,” Paavola said. “Any properties that have come up for sale in that two block area we have started to considered purchasing for the plan. NMU has been slowly buying pieces of that property with the idea that, at some point in the future, we can use that new piece to connect the two parts of the campus.”

The purchase of the mBank facility and related expenses dealing with the property totaled $425,000. In the December 23 press release to NMU community connection members, NMU President David Haynes said the board does “not have definitive plans yet for this building but are discussing several options.”

Paavola said plans for the building’s use are still currently in discussion but several key ideas have surfaced since the initial purchase.

“We are considering building a welcome center on campus and there have been many locations that have been considered,” Paavola said. “One of the locations to be considered is the mBank building. Whatever goes in there, unless we rent it to an external business, will involve student jobs or student learning.”

According to the NMU Engineering and Planning, the Campus Master Plan was first proposed in 1996 and later updated in 2008, addressing “growth opportunities, image and identity, spatial efficiency and land utilization, community interface, new partnerships, and the development of a learner-centered, pedestrian-oriented educational community.” The Campus Master Plan also cites four other properties along Presque Isle Avenue that could be potential mixed-use development opportunities.

Leach said, in order to make the Master Plan a possibility, many steps are in need of discussion before actions can take place.

“There are number of possibilities that come into play when moving businesses into place,” Leach said. “We are looking for learning and working environments for students. We will be evaluating what the best use is and will be moving forward.”

For more detailed information about the complete NMU Campus Master Plan, people can visit www.nmu.edu/campusmasterplan.