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Company buys Michigan school to open women's shelter

The Muskegon Board of Education has entered into an agreement to sell its long-closed Froebel School for $1,000 to Blue Lake Holdings. The company intends to establish a women's shelter on the property. The holding company consists of six investors -- one that has worked in banking and another that has worked on real estate developments in the past.

The superintendent stated that there has been interest in the property in the past, but that the School Board believes Blue Lake is the best group to take ownership of the property. The school, located on Jackson Street in Muskegon, closed more than 10 years ago. In 2008, the school district tried to give the property away after unsuccessfully looking for a buyer for several years. Several nonprofit organizations were invited to submit proposals for how they would use the Spanish-style 1930s structure. Although several groups expressed interest, they were unable to move forward due to zoning issues or the cost of doing renovations.

Currently, the area is zoned for single-family residential homes. The property must be rezoned before it can be used as a shelter, which requires a special use permit. In order to get the permit, the owner must notify residents of the community of the plan for the property. A representative for the city stated that residents typically speak out against having a shelter in their neighborhood. Thus, Blue Lake Holdings may need to overcome the zoning hurdle before proceeding with its plans.

When a real estate deal is delayed due to zoning issues or other complications, a real estate attorney may be able to help resolve problems to keep things on track. An attorney may also be able to help seek permits or zoning variances and help negotiate with neighborhood residents.

Source: MLive.com, "Muskegon's Froebel School being sold to group that reportedly plans women's shelter", Lynn Moore, January 02, 2014

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