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2012-12-11

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University to pay $1.075 million for Blimpy Burger property

By Jennifer Calfas, Daily Staff Reporter
and Sam Gringlas, Daily Staff Reporter
Published December 10, 2012

At its monthly meeting on Thursday, the University’s Board of Regents will discuss the purchase of properties on South Division Street, including the property where Blimpy Burger is located, several renovation projects, and temporary procedures for hiring new faculty.

The regents will not formally meet in January, having elected instead to spend time in California at a series of workshops and discussions about future challenges facing higher education. The meeting on Thursday will be the last for Regents Olivia Maynard (D–Goodrich) and S. Martin Taylor (D–Grosse Pointe Farms), whose terms expire on January 1, 2013.

Incoming regents Mark Bernstein and Shauna Ryder Diggs, both Democrats, will go to the meetings Jan. 17-18 in Los Angeles. The regents will resume their regular schedule of meetings on February 21, 2013.

One of the highest profile items on the agenda will be for the regents to consider whether or not the University will purchase the Blimpy Burger facility, including the 2,776-square-foot apartment and 950-square-foot restaurant located on 549 and 551 S. Division St., respectively.

The purchase would cost $1.075 million, and according to a communication signed by Timothy Slottow, the University’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, the current property’s managers would maintain control until August 31, 2013 when their leases expire.

In a separate communication, Slottow also requested that the regents consider the purchase of nearby 0.09-acre property at 545 S. Division St. for $425,000. The current residents of the 2,434-square-foot apartments would be allowed to complete their leases contracted through August 31, 2013.

Blimpy Burger employee Kevin Gorine said in an interview with The Michigan Daily last week that he hopes the restaurant, which has been at its present location for more than 60 years, will relocate close to Central Campus.

“It’s not a fun thing for anyone, when you have an icon in one location for so long,” Gorine said. “But I (need) to look at the positive side of it and hope that we can do in a different spot.”

Rich Magner, the owner of Blimpy Burger, said he hopes loyal customers will understand that Blimpy will reopen elsewhere. He added that he hopes to make an easy transition to a new location.

It is unknown what the University plans to do with the property, which sits between West Quad Residence Hall and the Perry Building. On Thursday, University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said he could not provide official comment until the regents approve the purchase.

Board to consider Fish Bowl renovation project

In a separate communication, Slottow requested that the regents approve renovations to the Angell Hall Courtyard Computing Site, also known as The Fishbowl, and three adjacent computing classrooms.

The cost of the projected is estimated at $4.4 million and will “improve and expand the computing site, improve accessibility, install a new raised flooring system for maximum future flexibility and install new movable and fixed furnishing,” according to the communication. It will also aim to improve safety features by adding new fire alarms throughout the space.

The University’s Architecture, Engineering and Construction division will design the project, which is expected to be completed in fall 2013. The project will be funded by investment proceeds and resources provided by the Office of the Provost.

Regents to consider authorizing bids for Wall Street East Parking Structure

Pending approval at Thursday’s meeting, the University will also begin to solicit construction contracts for the Wall Street East Parking Structure.

The structure’s design was approved at the July 2012 regents meeting and will provide 530 additional parking spaces near the medical campus, according to a communication written by Slottow.

The design includes architectural details on the façade and park-like landscaping that will cost the University an estimated $34 million. The project, expected to be funded by parking resources and to provide about 79 construction jobs, is slated to be completed by spring 2014

President Coleman to provide letter to State Budget Director

The regents will also formally receive a letter written by University President Mary Sue Coleman addressed to the State Budget Office outlining the University’s cost saving and efficiency measurements.

In previous years, Coleman submitted the University’s state budget request to the regents for approval prior to its final submission to the State Budget Office. As a result of State Budget Office policy changes, universities now are asked to submit a letter assessing the University’s yearly performance and providing suggestions for funding modifications.

Coleman’s letter will be included as a communication to the regents during Thursday’s meeting.

“We believe an appropriate tuition level is a decision best left to the individual boards governing each institution,” Coleman wrote.

The letter also noted the University’s efforts to cut costs and increase affordability amid decreasing funding per student from the state.

“Maintaining our position as one of the best educational and research institutions in the world is essential,” Coleman wrote.

Coleman pointed out the University’s economic impact in Michigan, and wrote that the University has the potential to assist in building the region as a major industrial cluster and hub for manufacturing, chemical, energy and pharmaceutical development.

Hanlon requests temporary hiring policy

Among the list of personnel items up for approval is a request that would allow the University president or provost to make interim appointments without the approval of the board during the month of January.

Signed by Provost Philip Hanlon, the communication states that the request will allow interim staffing appointments during the month of January, even though the regents will not hold a formal meeting to approve them. All appointments during this time will be announced at the February meeting.

With Hanlon slated to leave the University this summer to take on the presidency at Dartmouth College, many University officials have said they expect Coleman to name an interim provost to serve until the next University president can appoint a permanent replacement.

While Coleman has suggested that the Law School dean search is nearing completion, it is unlikely this announcement will come before the board’s February meeting, since Hanlon’s request only provides for appointments on an interim basis.

Daily Staff Reporter Peter Shahin contributed to this story


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