Detroit bankruptcy has no effect on downtown Global Campus plans, location to be completed in winter

Detroit might have filed for bankruptcy earlier this month, but that isn't changing Central Michigan University's plans to construct a downtown Global Campus location.

"The bankruptcy has not had an affect on our plans at all," Ray Christie, interim vice president of Global Campus, said.

The university signed a lease  last week for a 4,000-square foot space in downtown Detroit, located on the first floor of the One Kennedy Square skyscraper on Woodward and Michigan avenues across the street from Campus Martius Park.

Christie said CMU sees an opportunity to attract young downtown workers, many of whom work nearby for companies such as General Motors, Quicken Loans and Compuware, to its Global Campus as more businesses move downtown.

"Our research shows that Detroit is bouncing back, and it is bouncing back very impressively," Christie said. "We want to be a part of that."

Plans for the space, prominently located at street level inside the 10-story, translucent glass building, are in the early stages, but it will include spaces for numerous university offices in addition to the Global Campus, including Enrollment Management and Student Services, the president's office and the academic colleges.

"The idea behind the space is to create a space that can be functional for anyone down there," Dan Eichinger, associate director for leasing and regulatory services, said.

The space will include a classroom and places for campus leaders and students to meet when in Detroit.

"Most of that square footage is a large, flexible space for multiple purposes," Eichinger said.

"We've used centers for many years as a place to provide information about the university, both on campus and online," Christie said. "Detroit will be no different."

In addition to performing typical Global Campus location functions, Christie said the Detroit location will serve as a recruitment tool for the university. He remained vague, however, as to how the university plans on promoting itself in Detroit outside of being located in perhaps the most active part of downtown Detroit.

"We will be successful in attracting students," Christie said.

CMU will need all the help it can get when it comes to recruitment. It currently faces a 5 to 7 percent decrease in on-campus student enrollment, even as its Global Campus enrollment has grown, resulting in a total of $18 million in deficits, a smaller budget and looming cuts.

Christie said the location, which currently sits hollowed out and empty, will cost the university between $400,000 and $600,000 to construct.

"The area needs to be built out," he said. "It takes anywhere between 90 and 120 days to get that done."

The university will rent out most of the space, with a Starbucks coffee shop and a sandwich shop renting out the rest of it, Christie said.

CMU will join the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Grand Valley State University, among others, to set up locations in Detroit, where the downtown and Midtown areas are experiencing a bit of a renaissance even as the rest of the city has struggled.

Christie said CMU has taken cues from what those universities have done in the Motor City over the past several years in an attempt to see what works and what doesn't.

"We've looked at what (other universities) are doing downtown, including what types of courses they offer in the city," Christie said.

He said he hopes the downtown location will be open by "December or January"


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