222 N. Chestnut St. in downtown Lansing.

By Karole L. White, MAB President/CEO

At their last meeting the MAB Board voted to purchase an existing building at 222 N. Chestnut St. in downtown Lansing, rather than build a new building from the ground up.

You may recall that MAB owned 5.5  acres of land on Ottawa Street that was purchased from the bank  at foreclosure.  We sold five acres to a developer at almost 7 times what we paid for the land and kept .5 acres to build a new MAB headquarters building.

Karole White

As we developed our plans we hit some unexpected road blocks with MEDC Tax Credits and the EPA.  These issues would not prohibit us from building, but they made the build project simply too costly.  The board wisely stepped back from the build project to consider other options.  The Building Committee analyzed the potential of renting vs owning existing office stock.

Prior to the committee recommendation to the MAB board the above building at 222 N. Chestnut St., just two short blocks from the Capitol, came onto the market.  The Chestnut Street Property, built in 1992 was very close to the size of the building MAB would have built. It has three floors with access to all by an elevator and the lower level has a kitchen, a 35-person training room, and storage.  This building was priced at half of the cost of the original new build project on Ottawa Street. The funds from the sale of the 5 acres to a developer paid for the N. Chestnut Street property.

Although it has a totally different feel to the building, one that is more traditional, it is in excellent shape and stately looking.  The property committee met and recommended to the board that the MAB purchase the existing building on N. Chestnut Street and liquidate the rest of the MAB real estate holdings.  The board approved the purchase and the MAB now owns a new building.  We will move in after renovations are complete, hopefully by the end of March.

There is something else unique about this new MAB building.  The building was originally the offices of the Michigan Legislative Consultants, owned by Thomas Cleary and his partner Mike Busch.  Tom Cleary was the CEO of the MAB for more than 30 years and was the person responsible for introducing me to the MAB Board of Directors in 1985, which lead to my position with the MAB.  Tom stayed on as the MAB lobbyist until he and Mike Busch retired.  I attended the dedication open house of the Chestnut Street building in 1992 and now MAB owns it.

One could say the MAB has come full circle.  Our real estate investments and your continued membership and participation in the NCSA program has brought us to this point.  Having a substantial building so close to the Capitol tells lawmakers that the broadcasting industry is strong and an ever present force for good in our state.

Lawmakers will use our training center for receptions and will look up to our industry as media technology leaders. We will be within eyesight of the State Capitol.  Lawmakers will pass our building several times a day.  We will be part of the downtown Capitol landscape. That Capitol location is very important in Lansing. The board wisely chose to protect members investment in the MAB while still improving our presence before the Michigan legislature.

As we complete the renovations we will keep you informed of our ongoing progress.