CMU officials turn down offer to buy vacant SBX storefront


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No one knows what the future holds for the building that now stands mostly empty on the corner of University and Bellows streets.

Since the Student Book Exchange closed its doors for the final time last week, signs have been posted thanking the community for their 50 years-worth of patronage and support.

Barrie Wilkes, vice president of Finance and Administrative Services at Central Michigan University, said the building was for sale and was offered to the university. However, the university turned down the sale for multiple reasons.

"(The building) really didn't fit the capital master plan," Wilkes said. "If it was a piece of property within our footprint, that would be different. It's across the street from us. We really didn't have a need for that building."

Wilkes said they have to keep the economic impact on the local community in mind, as well. He added if the university was to buy the property, it would take it off the tax rolls for the city. The city would then lose revenue from those taxes.

"We want to be good neighbors," Wilkes said. "It does have a negative impact on them, as well."

It's not uncommon for people to approach CMU with offers to buy different properties across the state. Wilkes said they usually turn them down unless there's a specific need the property fulfills.

John Belco, owner of the SBX, did not immediately return phone calls fromĀ Central Michigan Life. The building was last assessed in 2013 and is worth $344,500 according to the City of Mount Pleasant assessor website.

Kaya Coffee and Tea Company runs their store out of the same building. Todd Levitt, a Mount Pleasant lawyer and former fixed-term faculty member at CMU, also has an office at the east end of the building.

Wilkes said he couldn't speculate on what will happen to the building now that the SBX is closed.

"I'll be curious to see what ends up going there," he said. "We've seen a lot of new student housing going up in that area."

While the store was in its final days and running a massive sale, some employees griped that it was the university's fault that the store closed shop.

Three university officials denied those claims, citing a number of reasons why it had no hand in the store's decision to close.


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