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Special Olympics Building


SpecialOlympics.jpgOpened: 1988​
Renovation Cost: $700,000

In 1987, Central Michigan University obtained ownership of the Michigan Maintenance Garage and Construction Division of the Michigan Department of Transportation, located at 1120 S. Mission. The transaction of the lot was a simple land-transfer and the building was purchased for $1 by the University. The building had been discussed as a replacement for the University motor pool facilities, but when administrators approved funding for the construction of a new motor pool building, the Department of Transportation building was available for an alternative use.

In 1988, the University announced a proposed contract with Special Olympics Michigan that would allow the University to finance the remodeling of the Department of Transportation building into office space for the Special Olympics Office. Special Olympics Michigan had a long history with CMU prior to this point, as Central had been the home of Special Olympics Michigan since it was founded in 1972 and hosted the International Special Olympic Summer Games in 1975. The Special Olympics office was originally located in Warriner Hall and then moved to Rowe Hall, where it was located when the University obtained the new building. Although CMU agreed to finance the renovation, Special Olympics Michigan agreed to pay back the cost in eight equal installments pending the completion of the project. The project was fully paid off by 1997.

Renovation of the Department of Transportation Building was undertaken by the Helger Construction Company of Midland at a cost of $700,000. Crews installed new walls, a new boiler, new plumbing, and new electrical equipment throughout the building. In addition, new windows and a new roof were installed, the garage door was blocked off, and the entrances from Mission Street were removed in favor of a new entrance from East Campus Drive. The amount of funding available for the project, which was significantly below the original bids, forced crews to make alterations to the original design. These included the use of lesser quality flooring and less elaborate lighting fixtures inside the building, as well as the abandonment of plans to install a flag pole and decorative light fixtures on the exterior of the building. Special Olympics Michigan moved into its new home in 1988 and remains there today.

While renovations to the Department of Transportation building went smoothly and the Special Olympics Office was able to move into its new home shortly after work began, plans to pave the adjoining lot into parking spaces involved more complications. In preparation for paving, CMU elected to have the Michigan Department of Public Health test the soil on the 297 ft. by 330 ft. lot. The land had housed the Department of Transportation garage for over fifty years, which included underground storage tanks for gasoline and fuel oil, as well as a salt storage building. As a result, the Department of Health discovered elevated levels of contaminants in the immediate area of the building. Estimated cost of the clean-up ranged from $200,000 to $300,000. The University eventually paved the area into additional parking spaces.