LOCS Board of Education authorizes sale of Administration Building to West Investment Group

Board accepts $700,000 offer from developer

By Joseph Goral
Staff Writer
LAKE ORION — The Lake Orion Board of Education authorized the sale of the district’s Administration Building to West Investment Group during its regular meeting on May 22.
The $700,000 purchase will be made by West Investment Group, allowing West Construction access to the building. West Construction also plans to redevelop the 97-year-old Ehman Center, 55. W. Elizabeth St., for residential use. The Ehman Center is located next to the Administration Building.
“We’re in a situation where we’re getting good market value for this property,” Superintendent Ben Kirby said. “And I think we have to look a little bit in advance when you talk about 80 to 100 new neighbors that will be sharing this property if we continue to stay here, and some of those things that come into play with having complexes right next door.”
Kirby also said repairs to the Administration Building were listed in a school bond the district will not be able to get to, and may need updating in the future. For this reason, and because of the sale, Kirby said there is no point in putting a dollar into the building if it is something administration will not move forward with.
In addition to the purchase agreement, Kirby told the board that administration also has a lease-back agreement that allows district administration to stay in the building up to Dec. 1, 2025 – giving administration time to find a new permanent building for those working in the current building.
Board member Birgit McQuiston said she was interested in delaying the vote to authorize the sale until there was assurance that the budget was balanced before moving forward.
Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance Andrea Curtis said she is “comfortable” with the statement that “the budget is anticipated to be at a minimum, balanced, if not still with the original surplus.”
“To be clear, McQuiston said, “there is no point in delaying the vote if those budgetary needs have been met.”
Administration is still working to decide whether to purchase the Orion Center – the negotiation of which was previously approved by the board of trustees.
If district administration moves to the Orion Center, Kirby said “there’s obviously opportunities” for potential revenue income not possible with the current building.
The Orion Township Board of Trustees voted in April to authorize township Supervisor Chris Barnett to work with a township attorney negotiate a potential purchase agreement for the Orion Center with Lake Orion Community Schools.
The Orion Center is roughly 20,000 square feet, according to Barnett.
Programs currently housed at the Orion Center would eventually be moved to the Great Lakes Athletic Club, which Orion Township purchased in December to be the township’s new community center, in addition to remaining a fitness center.
West Construction has proposed to redevelop the Ehman Center into a mixed-used development, which consists of 89 residential units and up to 5,000 square feet of commercial / community space.
The Lake Orion Village Council approved the Planned Unit Development contract with West Construction during its meeting on Dec. 11, 2023.
The project includes renovating the Ehman Center into apartments and commercial space and constructing a new apartment building in the back of the current building, adjacent to Lake Orion Community Schools Administration Building property.

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