By C.J. Carnacchio
It wasn’t a terribly long search.
Less than a month after forming a real estate committee to find a new facility to house it, the North Oakland Transportation Authority (NOTA) has agreed to purchase a 20,000-square-foot building for $1.1 million.
Located at 675 S. Glapsie St. in Oxford Village, the facility, which formerly housed Master Manufacturing, Inc., sits on 2 acres zoned for industrial use.
“We’ll close in 60 days,” said NOTA Director Lynn Gustafson.
Gustafson is “thrilled” NOTA was able to get this property.
“There’s very little on the market,” she said. “We were really lucky to find it. There’s almost nothing to lease or buy.”
Gustafson believes the site is “ideal” because it offers easy access to nearby M-24 and “it sits pretty much in the center of (NOTA’s) service area.”
NOTA provides publicly-subsidized transportation for senior citizens, individuals with disabilities and low-income folks living in Oxford, Addison and Orion townships along with their respective villages.
The property’s asking price was $1.4 million. NOTA initially offered $1 million, then the seller countered with $1.175 million, according to Gustafson. NOTA made a second offer of $1.1 million, which was accepted.
NOTA’s board authorized offering up to $1.1 million at a special Feb. 4 meeting. It was approved in a 6-0 vote following a closed session discussion. Voting to make the offer were Oxford representatives Bill Dunn and Margaret Payne, Orion representatives Chris Barnett and Mike Flood, Addison representative Bruce Pearson and Carla Dean Ogene, an at-large member.
“I was so encouraged that all of the board members (voted yes),” Gustafson said. “I think at first, (they were) apprehensive. But I think when they saw it, they were like ‘this is a no-brainer.’”
Because of the $2.6 million saved in its fund balance, NOTA will be able to pay cash for the property.
NOTA is planning to use the 10,000 square feet located in the building’s front half for its purposes. Gustafson said the area contains 2,700 square feet of existing office space, plus 7,300 square feet to potentially park all 21 of NOTA’s vehicles inside.
“(Operations Manager) Doug (Noaker) thinks we can (do it). He seems to think right now we can angle them and get them all in,” she said. “We’re not sure (yet). Obviously, we can definitely get a lot of the buses (inside).”
As for the back half, the plan is to find a tenant to rent it. “We should be able to generate like $65,000 to $80,000 a year in lease revenue,” Gustafson said. “That should help pay for (NOTA’s) day-to-day operations.”
The property requires some cleanup and updating, but Gustafson is hopeful that NOTA can move in “by summer.”
She believes buying a building is a wise decision for two reasons.
One, it’s “a good investment.”
“It’s better to have the money sitting in a building that’s going to be worth more (in the future) than in the bank,” she said.
Two, NOTA’s finally going to have “a long-term home.”
“We won’t have to move around like we’ve had (to in the past),” Gustafson said. “It will be nice to own our own home.”
Since NOTA’s formation in 2001, the authority has moved around quite a bit.
Prior to its current facility in Lake Orion, NOTA was based at the Oxford Mills shopping center, the Oxford Veterans Memorial Civic Center (now HomeGrown Brewing), the Crossroads for Youth Campus and a different industrial site on S. Glaspie St.
The transportation service’s current home, a former school bus garage at 467 E. Jackson St., is scheduled to be demolished to make way for construction of the new Blanche Sims Elementary School.
NOTA has been leasing the building from Lake Orion Schools since March 2014.
Gustafson is “thankful” to the school district for providing NOTA with a home when it needed one.
“We’ve enjoyed our stay in Lake Orion and working with Lake Orion Schools,” she said. “They’ve always been wonderful to work with.”