LANSING | A Memphis-based music college that wants to expand nationally has plans to develop a Chicago-area campus in Lansing.
The Village Board voted 6-0 recently to approve a lease agreement with Visible Music College for the one-time police station and courtroom at 3404 Lake St. just off of Ridge Road. The structure most recently was used as office space for the Lansing Chamber of Commerce.
That college, which opened in 2000-2001 in Memphis, offers bachelor’s degrees and instruction with an emphasis on Christian music.
College President and founder Ken Steorts said the existing campus graduates about 30 students per year, and is at its physical peak with about 120 students.
He said the school wants to develop other campuses, and said there has been significant interest from prospective students in the upper Midwest. That led them to the Chicago area, and Steorts said officials were impressed with the character of Lansing as a site for their campus.
“We’ve fallen in love with Lansing,” he said.
Village Trustee Mikal Stole said he liked the idea of a new business that will cater to people in their late teenage years or early 20s. Village Administrator J. Wynsma said economic benefits from a college would be “significant.”
“Those students will eat in our restaurants,” Wynsma said. “Think of all the apartments they’ll rent.”
Steorts said officials hope to open their Chicago-area campus in August with a class of 28 students. Once in operation, it likely would have 120 students at a time, he said.
Village Attorney Tim Lapp said the lease agreement provides an option in 2018 for the school to lease a nearby structure on Washington Street to provide for future expansion.
It also calls for the college to pay at least $250,000 for some repairs and alterations to the building to accommodate the school, although Steorts said he expects the amount of money the school winds up spending on the building will be significantly higher.
The thought of renovations had Village Trustee Tony DeLaurentis concerned. The former president of the Lansing Historical Society said the solid-steel door to the jail cell in the one-time police station remained in the structure.
He asked for, and received from Steorts, a guarantee that when the door is removed as part of renovations, it will be turned over to the Historical Society free of charge, a fact that Abbott said he “appreciates.”
“I want them to take care and save the door,” DeLaurentis said. “We don’t have space for the whole cell, but we want the door.”