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2,000 state workers to shuffle offices in region

LANSING — About 2,000 state workers will shuffle offices over the next year and a half in an effort to clear employees from the Capitol View Building so the state Senate can move in and, officials said, to improve efficiencies. As part of the relocations announced Wednesday, the Michigan State Police will move its headquarters from downtown Lansing to the State Secondary Complex in Dimondale. That move was praised by the MSP and local lawmakers who opposed the construction of the downtown headquarters during Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s administration because they said the building wasn’t the right fit for the department. Michigan Department of Community Health staff will move out of the Capitol View Building and into the current MSP headquarters at 333 S. Grand Ave. The state Senate plans to move from its current home at the aging Farnum Building to Capitol View at 201 Townsend St. Staff from the state departments of Technology, Management & Budget and Licensing & Regulatory Affairs will move from the Secondary Complex to space downtown over the next 18 to 20 months. Employees from the state Department of Insurance & Financial Services will also relocate in what DTMB spokesman Caleb Buhs called “a coordinated set of moves that allow us to better optimize state-owned buildings.” That’s been a years-long effort. The State Journal reported in 2012 that the state could save millions of dollars a year by moving workers out of leased space around the tri-county area and into state-owned property with high vacancy rates downtown. Getting out of the lease at Capitol View will save the state $30 million over 10 years, Buhs said. But, with the Senate’s plan to occupy that building, he said he didn’t know the total impact to state coffers. The Michigan Strategic Fund in November issued $70 million in bonds to purchase and renovate seven of the nine floors of Capitol View. The Senate was to sell the Farnum Building, 123 W. Allegan St., and move into Capitol View, and the bonds would be repaid with lease payments from the Senate. But legislation that would allow the Farnum sale failed to pass in lame duck, and it wasn’t immediately clear how that affected the process. Amber McCann, spokeswoman for the Senate Republican majority, didn’t respond to messages seeking comment Wednesday. Buhs said the state would likely “still be getting rid of a building” at some point. Buhs also said the total cost of the moves hadn’t been finalized. But he said the state would find efficiencies by saving time and transportation costs with employees from the same department, or employees from different departments with similar jobs, under one roof. Some state workers have fretted about the disruption that could come from moving offices, but a spokesman for the state’s largest employee union said Wednesday he supported the plan. “Our number one priority is to make sure that all the state departments are appropriately staffed with people that have direct contact with the citizens,” Ray Holman, legislative liaison for the United Auto Workers Local 6000, said Wednesday. “Regarding work location, of course we want to ensure that government is efficient and set up again to serve Michigan citizens.” And the decision to move the MSP headquarters drew high praise.

Senate Planning Move to New Lansing Offices

LANSING – State senators will move their offices next year from the aging, state-owned Farnum Building to a more luxurioun, relatively new office tower owned by the Boji family – a generous contributor to Republican candidates and political committees. The Senate approved the sale of the Farnum building last year, but the Michigan Strategic Fund acted this week to issue $70 million in tax-exempt bonds to purchase and renovate seven of the nine floors of the Capitol View building, which was built in 2005, and lease the space back to the state Senate for offices. The move will displace a couple hundred state Department of Community Health employees from the Capitol View. The Farnum building would be sold. Kurt Weiss, spokesman for the state budget office said there have been no decisions made on whether or where the DCH employees would move. Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, has wanted out of the Farnum building for a couple of years now, citing unreliable heating and airconditioning, outdated technology and the presence of asbestos in the building. The Senate has pegged the cost of renovating the Farnum at $24 million. But the state Department of Management, Technology and Budget has estimated it would havs cost about $11.4 million to renovate the Farnum. They will sell the building “as is,” without major renovations, said Kurt Weiss, spokesman for the state budget office. A panel of five people, including Secretary of the Senate Carol Viventi, two purchasing officers, a fiscal analyst and a staffer from the physical properties department, reviewed four options for Senate offices: the Capitol View; renovating the Farnum; new construction near the Hall of Justice, which is three blocks from the Capitol; or a purchase and renovation of the Lansing City Hall. They found the Capitol View was the most cost effective and it’s proximity right across Allegan Street from the Capitol was the best choice, said Viventi. They made the recommendation to Richardville, who chose the Capitol View option. Decocrats opposed the sale of the Farnum, saying at the time their current office space was fine. They haven’t changed their view. “We’re talking about spending tens of millions to move from one block to another,” said Robert McCann, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing. “The Farnum is certainly not the nicest building in town, but it serves its function. This is the exact type of stuff that makes people angry with their state government.” The Boji family, which owns multiple properties in Lansing and metro Detroit, also owns the Boji Tower, across Capitol Street from the Capitol, where the Senate began leasing space for a hearing room and some office space when Rochester Republican Mike Bishop was Senate Majority Leader. The family has been a generous donor over the years, according to campaign finance records, giving $61,000 to the Senate Republican Campaign Committee since 2005, $70,000 to the Michigan Republican Party, $32,700 to Gov. Rick Snyder, $28,000 to the House Republican Campaign Committee, $1,000 to Richardville’s leadership PAC; $27,102 to Bishop and his PAC and five years of free office space to the Decider PAC, which donated $72,000 to the Republican Senate Leadership Campaign this year. The family also has ties to Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, giving $15,202 to his PAC. The family also has given money to state Democrats, including former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, former state Rep. Andy Dillon of Redford and current state Reps. Woodrow Stanley, of Flint and Rashida Tlaib of Detroit. “There are juct a lot of red flags to this deal,” McCann said. But John Truscott, a spokesman for the Boji family, said there was nothing unusual about the move. “It was a very open and transparent bid process. Pretty much anybody who could have qualified as a bidder was sent a letter,” he said. “And the Boji group responded to it with what turned out to be the most cost effective proposal.” The Farnum building was purchased by the state in 1978 for $3 million. Kathleen Gray is a reporter for the Detroit free Press.

Featured Project: Davenport University

Davenport University

  • Over $10 million investment to retain Davenport University in downtown Lansing
  • 68,641 square feet of high-tech university space, including the launch of Davenport’s nursing program
  • Boji Group acted as master developer for the project, with a guaranteed maximum price, and finished on time, on budget
  • The new campus was built to meet LEED standards and utilized a holistic approach to creating a green campus within an urban setting
  • The project represents a public-private partnership between Davenport University, the City of Lansing and the Boji Group
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