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MSU now majority owner of Detroit's iconic Fisher Building

The Fisher Building will be illuminated in green this week to commemorate MSU buying the building.
Michigan State University
The Fisher Building will be illuminated in green this week to commemorate MSU buying the building.

Michigan State University is now the majority owner of an iconic piece of Detroit’s skyline.

MSU announced Tuesday that its endowment has purchased a $21 million, 79% share of the Fisher Building with two investment partners. That 29-story Art Deco tower in Detroit’s New Center area, designed by architect Albert Kahn, is considered one of the city’s most beautiful and significant pieces of architecture.

The acquisition is the latest in a series of announcements that highlight MSU’s growing presence in Detroit.

The university endowment recently announced its investment in a new housing project, Piquette Flats, which MSU describes as an “affordable housing/adaptive reuse project.” That’s a joint venture with The Platform, a Detroit development firm that’s also part of the Fisher Building deal.

And earlier this year, MSU revealed plans to build a new medical research facility in downtown Detroit with Henry Ford Health. The facility is part of a $2.5 billion expansion in Detroit by MSU, Henry Ford, and the Detroit Pistons.

“For decades, MSU has been working with partners in Detroit to support economic development, advance the arts, transform schools, improve health and sustain the environment,” MSU Interim President Teresa Woodruff said in a statement. “Our collective presence in the Motor City yields $317 million of economic impact for the region and, more importantly, our partnerships and collaborations throughout the region improve the lives of Detroiters and Michiganders alike. This new investment signals our continued intent to be part of Detroit’s storied history and vibrancy.”

The university says it’s still in the process of deciding how to utilize the Fisher Building, but it “anticipates supporting an array of educational, administrative and community-facing functions” there. There are plans for the MSU Research Foundation to open a start-up incubator in the building later this year.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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