Joseph W. Mauck Elementary School at 113 E. Fayette St. is just one of several vacant buildings in the City of Hillsdale that are being repurposed and filled.
Hillsdale College bought Mauck Elementary School for $390,000 on June 1, and the college plans to begin using the building for various purposes while it discerns how to best use the space in the long term.
“We are looking at what we can do that is cost effective in the short term to utilize the building until long-term renovations can be made that will address the entire building’s deficiencies,” said Rich Péwé, chief administrative officer at the college.
Shawn Vondra, superintendent of Hillsdale Community Schools, said that everything regarding the sale went according to plan.
The sale was discussed at meetings of the Hillsdale Community Schools’ Board of Education earlier this spring, and the board’s members voted unanimously to sell the vacant school to the college on March 19, as long as the transaction was completed.
Vondra said the building hadn’t been used since 2010.
Mauck Elementary School was closed in 2010 after the close of the school year in efforts to save on costs because of declining enrollment, a previous Collegian article stated.
If the college had not purchased the building, Vondra said, the district would have continued using the building for storage, but no other immediate plans were put in place.
Now that the college owns the building, it will continue to investigate the building’s present condition and make a plan to determine how space can best be used by the college, including the short term and the long term, Péwé said.
“The college definitely has staff space limitations right now and specifically in the area of outreach,” he said.
Having full access and more time in the building does give the college a better idea of how the space might be able to be used, according to Péwé.
He said the building has given the college several options, as it begins to consider moving into the space over time.
“It would be unlikely for just one department to occupy the whole building,” Péwé said.
In the immediate time frame, sports teams will begin practicing in the former elementary school’s gym and the parking lot will be used for the college’s functions, as it has in the past.
City Manager David Mackie said that from a city standpoint, he is excited to see Mauck Elementary being repurposed.
With the elementary school’s proximity to the college, it seemed to be a great fit, he said.
“We want to see buildings filled,” Mackie said. “The longer a building sits vacant, the more difficult and costly it becomes.”
Several vacant buildings are being repurposed and filled throughout Hillsdale, Mackie said.
Just recently, the city announced that two historic buildings in Hillsdale’s downtown area, the Dawn Theater and the Keefer House, were purchased by Hillsdale’s Tax Increment Finance Authority and C.L. Real Estate and will be turned into a hotel in 2020.