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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.