MUSKEGON, MI — Muskegon Community College officials are rethinking their plans to house their downtown location at the Masonic Temple.
The temple at 396 W. Clay may be smaller than what the college needs, and besides, the building is being sold to another party, said Dr. Donald Crandall, chairman of the MCC Board of Trustees.
The college is now exploring other downtown options, including a suggestion by Grand Valley State University to locate in the university’s Michigan Alternative & Renewable Energy Center, also known as MAREC.
The MCC board was all set to buy the home of the local Masonic Lodge for the price of back taxes, a total cost of about $20,000, Crandall said. But before the board was able to approve a resolution offering the purchase, the Lodge accepted an offer from a different party to purchase the building for $25,000, Crandall told the board during its work session Monday.
That individual did not know of the college’s interest in the building and is willing to sell it back to the college for what he pays for it, college officials said.
“His motivation was simply to make sure the best outcome occurs for our downtown area in Muskegon,” said MCC President Dale Nesbary, adding that that person “immediately backed away” when he learned of the college’s interest in the building.
The sale has not been finalized, according to the Muskegon County Register of Deeds office. Nesbary said the individual asked that the college not publicly release his name.
The college’s offer to purchase the Masonic Temple was contingent on voters approving a $23.7 million bond proposal to improve and expand college facilities. That bond proposal, which voters approved on Nov. 5, obligates the college to establish some sort of presence in downtown Muskegon.
The college is pretty definite that it wants to locate its visual arts and/or applied technologies programs downtown, Nesbary said. The bond proposal will pay for the downtown site as well as improvements to arts, health/fitness and science facilities.
College officials had initially talked about putting applied technologies programs in the temple building. But the building is significantly smaller than the 40,000 square feet that those programs need, Nesbary said.
The college is establishing a committee in early December with revolving members who will plan more details about improvement plans for each of the three targeted areas as well as the downtown location, Nesbary said.
The buyer of the Masonic Temple has indicated that he is willing to wait for the college, Nesbary said,.
“The longer we wait the better for him from a tax perspective,” Nesbary said.