MUSKEGON, Mich. — The ownership transition of the historic Hackley Administration Building in downtown Muskegon started in May when the nonprofit 'Reset Ventures" offered to purchase the building for $1.
Muskegon Superintendent Matthew Cortez tells 13 ON YOUR SIDE the school board approved the sale after learning Reset Ventures' vision for the building meet the board's two biggest goals.
"There comes a point where it's the right thing to do," said Cortez. "Our district is not in the position to restore historical buildings. As hard as that is to face, we need to focus on student achievement."
Cortez says the school board wanted a new owner for the building who would not only invest around $5 million to repair and preserve the building but also commit to providing public access.
"Those two wishes will be meet," said Reset Ventures Executive Director Brad Playford. "We'll do the right thing with the building to sustain it and keep it around for at least another 100 years."
One year ago Muskegon School District administrative staff moved out of the building, leaving it vacant.
Some estimates show the building needs in excess of $1 million in stonework repairs alone. Playford says completing repairs to the interior and exterior of the structure will be Reset Ventures' first priority.
Friday Playford, Cortez, and Muskegon Mayor Stephen Gawron watched as Hackley Administration signs were removed from the building and grounds.
"It's such an icon, and a part of our heart and soul," said Gawron.
Since the late 1880's the building housed a number of education programs and at one time was home to Muskegon Community College.
Playford says a number of future uses are under consideration including office and retail space.
"We'll have food service in it, and we'll have some form of historical walk," said Playford.
Muskegon city staff will assist Reset Ventures with lawn care on the property, and maintenance of the William McKinley Memorial. The city will also be responsible for keeping the building's historic clock on-time and bells ringing.
"The bell tower shows up on our seal of the city," said Gawron. "And the bell chime has always been music to my ears."
Reset Ventures renamed the grounds Hackley Square, the building is currently unnamed.
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