April 29 2013 12:00 AM

Remodeling of nine-story building set to wrap up in July

This morning, construction crews were busy at work at the new Davenport University building downtown. Pictured here is the two-story glass atrium that will serve as the campus\' entrance Sam Inglot/City Pulse

This story was updated today with details of LCC's purchase of the parking lot adjacent to Oliver Towers. 

Monday, April 29 — Construction on the new $11 million Davenport University campus in downtown Lansing is scheduled to be completed this summer in time for the arrival of students in the fall.

This morning, Davenport University President Richard Pappas, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and Ron Boji, president of Boji Group, Inc. were at the construction site, 112 E. Allegan St., to talk about work being done and Davenport’s new presence downtown.

Davenport University is a private college with 11 campuses around the state that serve about 13,000 students. The university specializes in health, technology and business educational programs.

Pappas said there is a “huge, growing market in Lansing,” which was one of the reasons Davenport wanted to expand in the area. He credited Bernero’s work for helping keep Davenport downtown, which was a contentious proposal nearly two years ago.

In 2011, Davenport had originally planned to move into the Oliver Towers property and adjacent parking lot, but backed out of the deal after Lansing Community College fought them over the property. The Lansing Housing Commission has offices in Oliver Towers and LCC purchased only the parking lot from the city in May of 2012 for $1.21 million. 

Pappas doesn’t hold any ill will toward LCC over the property debate. He said he actually prefers the new location and believes the whole project “worked out great.”

The university’s Lansing campus at the corner of East Kalamazoo and Cherry streets “wasn’t meeting the needs of the students,” Pappas said, and was one of the university’s “least effective” campuses. The new downtown campus will be “one of the finest” the university has to offer, he said.

About 900 students are enrolled for the fall semester, Pappas said, but the campus has a capacity of about 2,000 students. He expects the enrollment to “grow fairly rapidly” once the building is operational.

He said one of the drivers keeping Davenport in downtown Lansing was the presence of LCC and Cooley Law School. Pappas said Davenport wanted to continue to be part of the “education corridor” that’s made up by the three downtown institutions.

Construction of the 65,000-square foot, nine-story building began in June, said Boji, the project developer. He said the plan is to have construction wrapped up by July to be ready for students for the fall semester in September. The project was originally projected to be a $10 million endeavor, Boji said, but exterior improvements bumped the cost up to $11 million.

The campus has two parking lots near the building that have about 125 spaces, Boji said.

According to a press release, the campus will have 21 classrooms and six lab areas for students. There will be 33 full- and part-time faculty as well as 45 adjunct faculty.

Inside the building, construction crews are still hard at work. The interior is mostly concrete floors and unfinished drywall. This morning, a construction crew was installing the glass for a two-story atrium entrance that faces Grand Avenue to the east.

Bernero said he “couldn’t be happier” with Davenport’s new building downtown. He said the new building would help serve as a “gateway to downtown Lansing.”