Muskegon Public Schools Close to Selling Froebel School Building

Andrew Trzaska | December 16, 2013

The long-closed Froebel School in Muskegon’s Jackson Hill neighborhood may soon have a new owner, according to the district’s superintendent.

At Monday’s work session, superintendent Jon Felske elaborated on an agenda item for Tuesday’s full board meeting that would sell the building and associated land to local holding company Blue Creek Holdings, LLC.  The building would be sold as-is for a price tag of $1,000 to the holding company, which according to Felske may use it as a women’s shelter.

Froebel School was built in 1930, with a unique design that was considered to be one of the “10 finest school buildings in the state”. It eventually shifted from being a standard use to special education use before being shuttered in 2003.

Muskegon Public Schools has tried several times to sell the building, or even give it away. All interested parties backed out when different issues arose, such as rezoning challenges or costs to rehab the facility.

The potential new owner is locally based. A query of the State of Michigan’s records indicates Michigan Blue Creek Holdings, LLC is registered to a Joseph Lamie at 5494 Wilson Road in Fruitport. This is the same location as a Blue Creek Transportation, LLC, also listed to Joseph Lamie.

103.7 The Beat could not reach Mr. Lamie or Blue Creek Holdings at the time of publication for comment about the deal or Froebel’s future use.

Felske noted that Blue Creek Holdings originally reached out to the district back in September. He has done walkthroughs with three different groups of leadership from the school system in preparation for the pending deal. Felske also noted that he has had nearly 25 people or groups interested in the property in the years since he has been superintendent at Muskegon Public Schools, but this one was worth pursuing.

“I believe this is the group that we should sell this property to,” said Felske.

The new owners will likely keep it standing, though it needs work to be habitable. The heat and water in the building were turned off several years ago, so deterioration on the inside is likely.

The deal may give the building attention the cash-strapped school district is not able to provide.

“I recommended to the board of education that maybe they will be better neighbors in the neighborhood than we have been,” said Felske.

The Board of Education is set to vote on the sale at Tuesday’s full board meeting. It is likely to pass

Similar challenges have faced Phillips School out on the district’s east end, which almost became a West Michigan Therapy facility before the deal fell through. The district is also considering using one of its other vacant buildings, Nims and McLaughlin schools, as the home for a new Boys & Girls Club.

No action is taking place on Phillips at this time, according to Felske on Monday.

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst