Girl Scouts' Ann Arbor building to become new home for Memorial Christian Church
Daniel Brenner I AnnArbor.com
The church is in the process of purchasing the office building of the Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan Council at 1900 Manchester Road in Ann Arbor. The deal is expected to close within 60 days.
“We’re thrilled that we’re able to pass this to another nonprofit and we hope it serves them as well as it served us,” said Jan Barker, CEO of the Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan Council.
The 7,500-square-foot, two-story building is listed with Milliken Realty Company for $999,999 and has been for sale since September 2011. The Ann Arbor Planning Commission approved a request to change the zoning of the building from office space to a church at its Nov. 20 meeting.
Memorial Christian Church pastor the Rev.Bob Brite said the church has looked at between 60 and 70 properties in its search for a new location.
“This was the only real choice, given what the congregation wanted,” he said.
Since selling its former building at 724 & 730 Tappan Street in January to University of Michigan fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon, the church has been looking for a more residential neighborhood with a less student-dense population. It has been operating out of a temporary space at 5141 Platt Road in Pittsfield Township since.
“We’re hoping that this will create opportunities for the community to find a movement to have the church be an integral part of the neighborhood,” said JoElla Coles, chair of the church’s governing board.
She said the new location, which sits in close proximity to several residential and commercial areas and is not far from the University of Michigan campus, offers the church greater access to a more diverse range of people.
Barker said the Girl Scouts group has outgrown its current location and is looking for a larger property in the Ann Arbor area. The Ann Arbor office has been part of the regional Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan Council since Michigan Girl Scout districts consolidated in 2008. The Council serves 23,000 girls in 34 counties in southwest, central and northeast lower Michigan.
“Now we need to have offices in each region that will accommodate a lot of girls,” she said.
While the Council also has offices in Kalamazoo, Jackson, Lansing and Saginaw, Barker said Ann Arbor is one of the largest and fastest-growing regions and serves more than 7,000 families. She said her group is looking for new space that will be able to accommodate hands-on learning programs for girls as well as training programs for Girl Scouts volunteers.
But for the Memorial Christian Church, the space is plenty. Coles said the church plans to transform the building’s second floor into a sanctuary and gathering area. The first floor, she said, will be used for classrooms and offices with the potential to lease space for nonprofit organizations. Brite said he also has plans to grow the church and create a stronger culture for evangelism. The church currently has an active membership of between 30 and 40 people, he said.
Bill Millken Jr.., who is brokering the deal, said the building was originally built for the Dobson McOmber Insurance Agency. It was built in 1980 and bought by the Girl Scouts in 1995.
While Brite emphasized the purchase was not yet a “done deal,” Milliken said he doesn’t foresee any complications.
“The property is under contract, and that usually leads to an orderly closing,” he said.