2017-05-17 / Front Page

Developer ‘dead serious’ about purchasing CEC

Letter states desire to see building preserved
BY ANNE SEEBALDT
STAFF WRITER

Amidst public comments about the closing and eventual demolition of Walled Lake’s Community Education Center (CEC) has come an inquiry regarding whether or not the district would be willing to sell the building as-is to an area developer.

Mark Menuck, vice president of Curtis Building Company, said he is “dead serious” about purchasing the property.

Menuck said, “Yes, I’m serious and there are lots of things I would do to assure the district that it would not be a charter school.”

Contents of the letter, dated May 3, were alluded to by more than one area resident. The letter states Menuck’s desire to see the building preserved and offers an opportunity to discuss such a project with the district.

As of Friday, he said, he had not heard from the district in response to his letter.

“It’s a big decision to change course like that,” Menuck explained. “I think it’s up to the community to rally around the building.”

While the district, he said, is certainly “free to do what it wants” with the building, “I think they should consider keeping it.”

He explained that if the district did reconsider its decision and Curtis Building Company was chosen to rehabilitate and repurpose the building, he would guarantee that it would not become a charter school.

Menuck said he learned of the building’s status when area residents and preservationists reached out to him because they heard of a similar renovation done by Curtis Building Company.

Public comment included residents of the district, including some who hold office with other public entities.

Bob Donohue, a Commerce Township resident and preservationist, said: “I’m very proud of Walled Lake Schools. I’m not proud of what I’m seeing.” Given the success of similar renovations, he points out that rehabilitation of the building would create a situation where “everybody wins.”

“That building has a future and you have a willing developer,” he added.

Susan Helke, a council member for the City of Walled Lake and a member of the Commerce Historical Society spoke. She questioned the expense to tear down the “historically significant building”, and expressed concern that once the property is sold, “residents have no control over what’s built there. It could be something that we regret.”

“I know that the decision has already been made,” Helke added. “I’m asking you to reconsider and explore other options.”

Judy Evola, director of community relations and marketing, gave a statement on behalf of the district relating to the CEC and their request.

Evola said, “The district is following up with businesses and organizations who have brought new information about the building and property. However, the district is moving forward with the March board vote and June 8 farewell ceremony. At future board meetings, the board will take action on demolition vendors and the sale of the land. There will be a formal process for selling the land. Further, there will be an auction/sale of some items from CEC and other district buildings late in the fall of 2017.”

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