The University of Michigan Credit Union is real-estate shopping and is looking at the now-vacant Ann Arbor News building on the southwest corner of Huron and Division streets.
However, the three-story News building is only one of several properties being considered as a potential home for the credit union’s administrative offices, says Jeff Schillag, the institution’s vice president of marketing and community relations.
Not all the potential sites are downtown, Schillag says. And any acquired space would replace leased office space.
Opened in 1936, the Albert Kahn-designed News building was shuttered last July when Advance Publications closed the daily newspaper.
A two-story press remains in the 80,000-square-foot building. The property also includes on-site parking, with entrances off of both Washington and Huron, and an additional parking lot on Ann Street. The building was renovated in 2004-05.
As part of its investigation into the property, the credit union retained Atwell-Hicks to take soil samples at The News building last week, Schillag says. Boring equipment in the parking lot was visible to passers-by as the engineers did that work, and prompted The Chronicle to follow up.
Schillag emphasized that the activity does not mean the credit union has decided to purchase the property.
Tax assessors put the 2009 value of The News building, at 340 E. Huron, at about $10 million and the lot at 336 E. Ann St. at about $600,000. The News building occupies the width of a block, with frontage on West Washington as well as Huron Street. The properties went on the market in October and are listed with Colliers International, with an asking price of $9.3 million.
In January, Swisher Commercial reported a vacancy rate of 17.6% in Ann Arbor’s office market. The rate for the downtown area was 16.5%, or 288,223 square feet.
The privately held Advance Publications Inc. bought The News – along with the Grand Rapids Press, Flint Journal and several other Michigan papers – in 1976.
Last year, the company reduced the number of publication days at the Journal and a number of the other Michigan papers. It also closed The News – in its place, the company launched a new enterprise, AnnArbor.com, which publishes online and offers print editions twice a week.
The UM Credit Union operates six branches in Ann Arbor, plus a branch on UM’s Dearborn campus. Its main downtown Ann Arbor office is next to the Ann Arbor District Library, at 333 E. William.