Next step for new Wayne State business school building: Raising funds

After sealing a $40 million donation from the Ilitch family for its new business school, Wayne State University has more work remaining to make the downtown building a reality. Wayne State will immediately begin seeking about $15 million likely still needed for construction of the $50 million Mike Ilitch School of Business project in The District Detroit, and could narrow its search for a contractor later this week. The donation, formally announced Friday, promises new technology and 21st-century design for business school students. The $40 million donation, which comprises $35 million toward development costs and a $5 million endowment for the school itself, wraps a courtship between the school and the family going back at least 15 years. Business school Dean Robert Forsythe said the university's agreement with the Ilitches includes a deal to lease property on the southwest corner of Woodward Avenue and Temple Street for $1 per year for the business school, with options that can continue the lease up to 90 years. The Mike Ilitch School of Business project cost could run as high as $50 million, Forsythe said, as one building west of the intersection will need to be razed, and the school hopes to seek a silver certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards of the U.S. Green Business Council. "This is a partnership with what's going on in the larger development district. So we will keep our partner well informed about our plans, and should they express concerns, we'll take them into consideration," Forsythe said. Business courses for upperclassmen and graduate school students, board room and meeting space, administration and most faculty offices all would be housed within the new building, Forsythe said. A downtown move for WSU's business school has been in discussion for well over a decade, university officials said. The Ilitches have had previous discussions with former business Dean Harvey Kahalas, and Forsythe said university President M. Roy Wilson broached the subject in his first conversation with Forsythe as he was seeking the dean position in mid-2014. "Probably eight of the first 10 conversations we had in some way involved a new location downtown for the business school," he said.

Crain's Detroit Business