The University of Michigan Credit Union is planning to relocate its administrative offices to the former Ann Arbor News building on East Huron Street by the end of March of this year.

UMCU bought the building to centralize administrative services — primarily accounting and marketing administration — and to be more cost efficient, according to Jeff Schillag, UMCU’s vice president of marketing and community relations.

The Credit Union’s administrative offices are currently located at a number of different branches, but UMCU is planning to make the switch after the completion of renovations that are scheduled to take place early this year.

UMCU purchased the building in June 2010 for an undisclosed price. In a November interview Schillag said the amount was less than it would cost to build a structure of equivalent size and it eliminated the financial burden of leasing office space.

“We looked at what our space needs were and looked at it in terms of what we’d need to grow into,” Schillag said. “The history of the building was very significant to us, as well as (its) close proximity to (the University).”

The structure includes rare parking spaces in the downtown area and is the only commercial building in Ann Arbor designed by renowned architect Albert Kahn, who designed the Fisher Building in Detroit as well as Hill Auditorium and the Burton Memorial Tower on campus. The Ann Arbor News vacated the 58,000 square-foot building when the newspaper closed in July 2009.

The building was valued at $9.3 million when it went on the market in October 2009. To help cover the cost of purchasing the building UMCU plans to lease the third floor to Arbor Research Collaborative for Health — a research company for health care — for the next eight to 12 years, according to a Dec. 30, 2010 UMCU press release.

Schillag said UMCU plans to eventually use the leased space as the company expands.

The building will have an ATM for credit union members and the location might be expanded into a full branch in the future.

For now, Schillag said UMCU is looking at renovation options to ensure the building is prepared for occupancy when employees are assigned offices and ready to move in.

“There isn’t really a lot of do,” Schillag said. “The building is in really good shape. We’re going to have to build some offices in there (because it was) a news building. It’s a really open floor plan.”

Despite changes at the administrative level, UMCU is taking precautions to guarantee that customers are not inconvenienced by the move. Schillag said the company will move employees by department to minimize the time administrators will be unavailable. Additionally, none of UMCU’s seven branches will close at any point during or after the move.

According to Colliers International broker Jim Chaconas, who was the listing broker on the sale, the property was on the market for three to four months before UMCU bought it. UMCU was the only local company interested in the deal, though several out-of-state investors were also potential buyers, Chaconas said in a November interview.

Nearby business owners said the building’s future occupation is warmly welcomed. Jeremy Seaver, co-owner of Tio’s Mexican Café located on East Liberty Street near the building, said his restaurant’s business was severely impacted by the loss of customers when The Ann Arbor News left the space. He said he foresees an increase in business from the soon-to-be occupied building.

“We were sad to see loyal customers in the news building go,” Seaver said. “(We) definitely saw a drop-off in our lunch business in particular.”

Seaver said he is one of many Ann Arbor residents who support UMCU’s relocation because the historic building will remain locally owned.

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