Plan to sell old Senate building heads to Snyder
Lansing — A plan to sell the old Senate office building in downtown Lansing is headed to Gov. Rick Snyder after the Senate approved the measure Wednesday.
Senators voted to sell the 11-story Farnum building in a 26-9 vote, with some Republicans and several Democrats voting against the measure. The building used to contain senators’ offices and meeting spaces before they moved a block away to a new building in 2016.
The old Senate office space was worth $5.4 million and the parking lot was valued at $225,000 in a 2014 appraisal, after Michigan bought it in 1978 for $3 million. It would cost between $11.5 million and $20 million to renovate the building, according to the House Fiscal Agency.
Legislative Democrats had criticized the move to a new building as a “misuse of taxpayer money.”
Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren, said that’s why he cast his “protest vote” against the bill.
But on Wednesday, bill sponsor Andy Schor, D-Lansing, praised the bill’s passage and said it would “put this prime spot in downtown Lansing back into use and back on the tax rolls.”
Schor is running for Lansing mayor and is about six months from the city’s August primary election. The general election is in November.
“With this fantastic location, there are many different options for use that could contribute to downtown and Lansing as a whole,” Schor said in a Wednesday statement. “This sale will help those conversations to continue and culminate in another exciting project.”
Any revenue the state makes for the sale would go toward reimbursing the Department of Technology, Management and Budget for expenses related to the sale and the remainder would go to the state’s general fund to be spent how lawmakers deem fit in next year’s state budget.
Those costs could include the price of getting another appraisal, reports and studies related to the sale, and anything else tied to getting it cleaned up before the sale, including environmental remediation and legal fees.
The Senate’s Republican leadership had grown concerned about the building’s condition and moved into a newer building in Lansing in 2016. The Farnum building has since sat vacant.
State officials had at first considered repurposing the building but ultimately decided to sell it, said Christyn Herman, a representative for the Department of Technology, Management and Budget.
Herman said it takes about four to six months to determine how much the property is worth now, put it up for bid and get the sale approved by the administration after Snyder signs the legislation.
The nine senators opposed to the plan did not debate the legislation Wednesday, and it passed the House unanimously last week.
Staff Writer Jonathan Oosting contributed