City renting space in former city-owned building

By TEREASA NIMS
Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – The city abandoned its move to the former AT&T Building and is now seeking bids to move the police and municipal offices into the former Unity Studio property.

The item was discussed in a special meeting Wednesday, where council members unanimously approved getting bids for the relocation to the neighboring building. Councilmen Dennis Hayes and Angelo DeGiulio weren’t present.

Hayes said the city found moving into the former AT&T building and renovating would cost nearly as much as building a new building.

Council members approved entering into a purchase agreement for the former AT&T building at 4000 Allen Road Sept. 16, but had 45 days to back out of the deal.

In an effort to find out if the city is officially out of the deal with the former AT&T building, calls were made to City Administrator Karen Folks, but none were returned.

City officials were planning to buy the property for $760,000 and spend more than $2 million for renovations for the 35,000-square-foot building. AT&T still occupies the basement of the building and its $70,000-a-year rent would continue to go to the current building owner.

Hayes said the city hopes to sell the front part of the current property at 16850 Southfield Road and possibly have the new construction on the rear of the property.

Mayor William Matakas was against moving to the former AT&T building, saying it neighbored a gun range. Other council members said they wanted a more thought-out plan.

“I want to see a strategic plan,” Hayes said Thursday.

Hayes said the city moved offices into the current building in 1972 and only planned for a 15-year stay.

Other residents concurred.

“I would rather see a new building than to have something that may have problems right off the bat,” resident Wanda Samson said Thursday. “We are in good fiscal shape right now and I would love to see it kept that way.”

Samson said she doesn’t want to see city money spent for a new department, but she knows the current one needs to be replaced.

“It is deplorable,” Samson said.

City officials agree the city has to move, deeming the current location unacceptable.

“This building has to be vacated,” Matakas has said on several occasions.

He, along with the Police Chief James Wilkewitz agree.

“Something has to be done,” Wilkewitz said.

(Tereasa Nims can be reached at tnims@bewickpublications.com.)