East campus will be losing North Hall, West Hall and the Speech and Hearing Center when they are demolished “as soon as possible,” according to Western Michigan University.
WMU will replace the buildings on Prospect Hill with designated green space and parking for a new alumni center being planned for the inside of East Hall. North Hall will not be demolished until the storage inside the building is moved to the new Zhang Legacy Collections Center. Construction for the Legacy Collections is supposed to be completed in Fall 2013, according to Sharon Carlson, director of Archives and Regional History Collections.
“We just found out today,” Carlson said. “We were just as surprised as anybody else.”
The Archives department was in the middle of a Holiday party when they heard the news.
“We’re all starting to feel very nostalgic about this building with the decision that has been made,” Carlson said. “I will be teaching a class in East Hall next semester and I now realize it will be the last class.”
The elimination of the Historic Preservation tax credit and Brownfield Redevelopment tax credit had a dramatic effect on the funding and revenue stream of the project, since that was what they were depending on.
“The state tax credits were a key part of redevelopment and that was totally eliminated,” Carlson said. “This was such a costly project, it really hinged on the ability to access those state tax credits.”
WMU administration made this decision. WMU Library’s Archives and Regional History Collections had no input because they were scheduled to move out by Fall 2013, Carlson said.
“We are very focused on our new building,” Carlson said. “We’ll be in our building by next fall.”
The decision to knock down the buildings was very difficult for the staff and alumni involved, WMU President John Dunn said in a press release. However, once East Hall is renovated it will share some of the historic splendor that all the buildings provided.
“More than a dozen years ago, we had all of our East Campus buildings assessed,” Dunn said in a press release. “We were told then, we needed to ‘save something, or lose it all.’ We’ve decided we can wait no longer, and it is of paramount importance to our campus and community to save the core of East Hall.”