Most of the construction work is completed on Baker College’s new location in Royal Oak, but classes expected to start this fall are being delayed until January 2023.
The $51 million, seven-story building houses 86,000 square feet on a site at 420 S. Lafayette, where the Kinsey-Garret Funeral Home used to be.
The college in a statement said the location will be at its new flagship campus.
Baker’s plan is to transfer all students from his Auburn Hills campus to Royal Oak. The college issued a statement when asked about the starting date for classes in the new location.
“Given the realities of the current timeline, Baker College has made the decision to continue classes at its Auburn Hills campus for the upcoming fall 2022 semester,” the statement said. “The new Royal Oak campus facility will be open to visitors beginning this fall, and classes will officially begin on-site in January 2023.”
Baker College said building a new campus is an ambitious undertaking even under ideal circumstances.
“Doing so amid a global pandemic has required the college to navigate an additional and unique set of circumstances,” according to the statement. “That said, we are proud of the significant progress to date and look forward to welcoming staff, students and visitors soon.”
Construction of the campus building started in January 2021.
A total of about 1,500 students and staff are expected to fill the new campus when classes begin in Royal Oak.
The campus includes a three-level parking deck, with one level below ground, which contains 80 parking spaces that will be mostly for staff.
A city parking deck is next door to the campus and city officials have said they anticipate the college will purchase parking permits there and perhaps at municipal deck on Center Street.
Baker College, which has more than a dozen campuses statewide, ended up coming to Royal Oak after trying unsuccessfully in 2019 to build a location on a parcel of city-owned land on East Nine Mile Road in Ferndale.
Royal Oak Deputy City Manager Todd Fenton was among the city officials who worked with the college’s representatives when they began considering different sites in Royal Oak.
“I think Royal Oak was attractive to them because they were looking at having a flagship campus and wanted to be in a dynamic urban environment that students would want to come to,” Fenton said.
That dynamic was also in play a couple of years ago when Oakland Community College decided to move its culinary arts program to Royal Oak and expand the college’s campus between Washington Avenue and Main Street, he added.
Like OCC, Baker College is refraining from putting a public restaurant, or even a cafeteria, at its site.
“When Baker College is fully open here they are expecting to have 1,500 people,” Fenton said. “We’re excited to have those people in the city each week, visiting our stores, restaurants and other businesses.”
The college is scheduled to have all its final city building inspections done this month.
Baker College bills itself as Michigan’s largest, private not-for-profit college, and an array of online programs. Baker has 68 programs, according to its website, and the college’s most popular degree programs are in business, information technology, nursing, education, occupational therapy, physical therapy, criminal justice, psychology and liberal arts.
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