A rendering illustrates what the state-of-the-art flagship Baker College campus in Royal Oak will look like once completed. Officials anticipate welcoming students in the fall of 2022.

A rendering illustrates what the state-of-the-art flagship Baker College campus in Royal Oak will look like once completed. Officials anticipate welcoming students in the fall of 2022.

Rendering provided by Megan Bonelli


Baker College campus coming to downtown Royal Oak

By: Sarah Wojcik | Metro | Published February 9, 2021

 The excavation and construction of a seven-story, 86,000-square-foot, $51 million Baker College campus is currently underway in downtown Royal Oak at 420 S. Lafayette Ave., north of Fifth Street.

The excavation and construction of a seven-story, 86,000-square-foot, $51 million Baker College campus is currently underway in downtown Royal Oak at 420 S. Lafayette Ave., north of Fifth Street.

Photo by Sarah Wojcik

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ROYAL OAK — The excavation and construction of a seven-story, 86,000-square-foot, $51 million Baker College campus is underway in downtown Royal Oak at 420 S. Lafayette Ave., north of Fifth Street.

Officials said the state-of-the-art flagship campus is designed to accommodate approximately 1,500 undergraduate and graduate students. It should begin welcoming students in the fall of 2022.

The school will include flexible and connected classrooms; laboratories; interactive study and gathering spaces for students, faculty and employees; and on-site parking on the ground level.

Baker College Chief Operating Officer Jacqui Spicer said administrators have spent a lot of time and energy to find “the perfect new home” for the college in Oakland County, and she is “confident that downtown Royal Oak offers everything we need, want and more.”

Spicer said Baker College sought a walkable location in a “vibrant, safe and welcoming” city after consolidating multiple other campuses in other cities.

After pulling out of negotiations with the city of Ferndale to build the campus on the northwest corner of East Nine Mile Road and Bermuda Street, and on a parking lot near Como’s Restaurant, in April 2019, Spicer said Baker College was “delighted” when a Royal Oak location opened up in the form of the former Kinsey-Garrett Funeral Home, which had served the community since the 1930s.

“We had a developer looking for property for us, and the owner (of the funeral home) was actually retiring and selling the building. We went through the process last February,” she said, and added that while the city of Royal Oak was the first choice, the real estate was just not there initially.

In March, the Royal Oak Zoning Board of Appeals granted a variance to waive 82 of the minimum required 149 off-street parking spaces that the city ordinance requires of educational institutions. It also granted variances to allow for construction activity.

Spicer said the exact number of on-site parking spaces is still being determined, but that the school plans to encourage its students to utilize Royal Oak’s parking structures.

“It’s our intent to get students out in the city,” she said, and added that the campus does not intend to offer any retail or food so that students are more apt to support small businesses in the downtown.

The college already moved its Clinton Township and Allen Park locations to Auburn Hills, and it will move the Auburn Hills campus to the Royal Oak location once construction is complete. Students can apply for scholarships of up to $1,000 to cover moving expenses.

“The (Royal Oak) campus is part of our growth strategy,” Spicer said. “Oakland Community College is actually a partner of Baker College, so we are excited to be in close proximity (to OCC’s downtown campus).”

She said the announcement has generated excitement, and the project has received positive feedback from elected officials and neighbors.

“We applaud Baker College’s investment in our downtown and look forward to welcoming its staff and students for many years to come,” Royal Oak Mayor Michael Fournier said in a prepared statement.

The new facility will feature sustainable materials, a brick and glass exterior facade that will let in natural light, and a fourth-floor outdoor terrace. Project partners include Ann Arbor-based architecture firm Edge Design Associates and Macomb Township-based Colasanti Construction Services.

Students at the new downtown Royal Oak campus will be able to pursue degrees from nine of Baker College’s most popular programs, including business, information technology, nursing, education, occupational therapy, physical therapy, criminal justice, psychology and liberal arts, according to a press release.

Founded in 1911, Baker College is Michigan’s largest private not-for-profit college and the top private transfer school in the state, with multiple on-ground campus locations and two affiliate sites across the state, as well as an online global campus, according to the release.

Royal Oak Director of Community Development Timothy Thwing did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

For more information, visit royaloakbaker.com or call Baker College at (855) 487-7888.

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