Cascade Township selects new location for offices

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Township officials selected the property at 5920 Tahoe Drive SE after a seven-week due-diligence period. Courtesy Cascade Township

Cascade Township officials have settled on the location of a new consolidated township office building.

The Cascade Township board recently gave approval to move forward with the purchase of the vacant office building at 5920 Tahoe Drive SE, which will be the new township office location.

The purchase approval comes after completion of a seven-week due-diligence period that allowed township officials and architectural and engineering partners to perform a thorough review and collect feedback from employees and residents.

“After a very thorough review, the township board has determined the 5920 Tahoe Drive space is the most financially and operationally efficient solution to address the township hall needs,” Township Manager Ben Swayze said. “Relocating the offices to the Tahoe Drive site allows all administrative functions to be in one building, saving significant funds and increasing efficiency, while avoiding property acquisition costs.”

Township officials considered three potential locations in the township during the period, including a new building on the current township office site, an addition to the Wisner Center and the building at 5920 Tahoe Drive SE.

Formerly occupied by ADAC Automotive, the facility features 12,930 square feet of space on 1.23 acres in Centennial Park — enough space to allow all township departments to be under the same roof. The building’s previous owner, Tahoe Associates LLC, accepted Cascade’s offer of $1.4 million — below the asking price of $1.495 million.

The transaction was expected to close Dec. 20.

The decision comes as the Cascade Fire Department and township board work to complete a study of potential new spaces to expand or relocate fire services. The study is an outgrowth of the 2018-19 Facilities and Services Study, which identified repairs and safety upgrades to the township’s fire stations as the top priority of residents.

One of the top locations identified in March for the fire department expansion is the current location of Fire Station 1, which shares space with township offices at 2865 Thornhills Ave. SE. As the study progresses, the current site of the fire station remains an attractive expansion option based on location and funds saved by eliminating new property acquisition costs.

Swayze said the relocation of township offices would allow Fire Station 1 to be rebuilt on its current site should it be the final recommended solution from the study.

To collect feedback and answer residents’ questions about the potential purchase, the township conducted a public engagement meeting earlier in December where township officials and Progressive AE shared details, findings and suggested next steps for the township offices.

“We would like to thank the residents for their feedback and participation in the Facilities and Services Study, so far,” Swayze said. “We listened carefully to their feedback before recommending this course. We look forward to completing the Fire Study and presenting potential options to the public.”

The township’s building department currently leases a space on Charlevoix Drive. By combining all the departments under one roof, the township will save approximately $70,000 a year that would have been spent on rent and utility costs.

As part of the due-diligence period, the township and its partners performed a number of studies, including title commitment and survey, as well as physical and environmental inspections. The physical and environmental inspections, conducted by Fishbeck, categorized the condition of the building as good to very good and determined there are no apparent environmental conditions.

The township’s architectural firm Progressive AE determined that renovations to 5920 Tahoe Drive SE will cost approximately $550,000 in addition to the $1.4 purchase price, whereas rebuilding at the current site or building an addition to the Wisner Center would cost between $4.3 and $5.4 million.

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