College starts $14M building project

College starts $14M building project

Muskegon Community College’s Applied Technology Center, located at the corner of Third Street and Clay Avenue in Muskegon. Courtesy MCC

A college in the region has begun construction and renovations on a downtown center.

Muskegon Community College is at work on a 110,000-square-foot center, which is located at 397 Clay Ave. in the former Muskegon Chronicle and Masonic Temple buildings.

The $14.27 million project will be completed by fall 2017. The center will house a prototype station; fabrication, welding, automation, electricity and machining labs; a robotics center partially funded by Alcoa; and classrooms and faculty offices. The lower level will offer rentable entrepreneur office space.

“The buildings have been gutted, and we are beginning the reconstruction process,” said MCC President Dale Nesbary. “We’re maintaining the historic character of the buildings and preserving what we can.”

The former Masonic Temple portion of the building will house the The Rooks | Sarnicola Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, which will include a fabrication lab, a youth entrepreneurial space, Best Financial Credit Union and a Barnes & Noble bookstore.

Grand Rapids-based architectural firm C2AE has designed the plans and is overseeing the work, with Lansing-based Clark Construction handling the building and renovations.

The downtown center is part of MCC’s nearly $47 million master plan, which includes a $9.6 million science center that opened in 2015, a $14.1 million health and wellness center and lakeshore wellness center in the former YMCA that is slated for completion in 2018, and a $9 million arts and humanities center.

The projects are funded by various millages, college fundraising efforts and grants from the state of Michigan.

Nesbary said the college decided to build the downtown center, and all the other components of the master plan, because it was running out of space for its programs.

“We conducted a number of surveys that led us to an idea of what we needed to build,” he said. “So this (downtown center) is one of five projects in our master plan.”

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