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OU receives Macomb building as gift from prominent developers

Monday, June 20, 2011
OU receives Macomb building as gift from prominent developers

Oakland University will expand its reach in Macomb County, Michigan, when it opens faculty offices and classrooms in a two-story building in downtown Mt. Clemens. Two prominent Macomb County investors and developers Gabe Anton and his partner, Stuart Frankel donated the building, which is valued at approximately $2 million.

The Towne Square Building, located at 20 South Main Street, will help Oakland University advance its commitment to bring exceptional academic opportunities to the people of Macomb County.

Speaking on behalf of himself and Frankel, Towne Square Associates managing partner and civic booster Anton says, “This donation is our gift to future generations of Oakland University students, administration and faculty who will enjoy all that our city has to offer and who will contribute to its growth. This is indeed a stepping stone to a ‘new’ college town, a town with a vision and an energetic plan that will encompass new business, new visitors and new residents. We couldn’t ask for a more promising strategic partnership.”

Built in 1984 by Towne Square Associates and designed by Rockind/DeBard Architects, the brick and glass facility will offer OU 25,422 square feet of additional space.

Mary Otto, vice president for outreach, says this will be used primarily to expand the number of classes and programs the university offers its students in Macomb County, but also will include office space for faculty and advisers who travel to Mt. Clemens to teach and meet with students.

“This wonderful gift couldn’t have come at a better time, given the tremendous growth we’ve seen in people looking to take advantage of the programs we now offer in Macomb,” says Otto. “In that sense, I think this donation is truly a gift to aspiring students and the people of this region as a whole.”

In addition to Macomb2Oakland — a partnership between OU and Macomb Community College that produced the state’s first concurrent enrollment program — Oakland University maintains a presence in the county with the Macomb University Center and through a partnership with the Macomb Intermediate School District that offers graduate, postgraduate, certificate and endorsement programs to teachers, administrators, counselors and others.

University officials anticipate that the donation by Towne Square Associates will significantly advance efforts to meet the expanding educational needs of both traditional and returning college students in the region.

“The economic struggles the state has experienced in recent years have created a double-edged sword when it comes to our efforts to expand the academic programs Michigan needs to fully transition to a knowledge-based, 21st century economy,” says OU President Gary Russi. “This gift will help us move more students toward rewarding professional careers and for this Mr. Anton and Mr. Frankel have our most profound gratitude.”

On September 22, Anton and Frankel presented the keys to university officials at a ceremonial event on the building’s premises. “We are reinventing Mt. Clemens, and we are doing it with OU. Already, we have the art and entertainment pieces of the city in place; now, with OU, we have the educational piece. The combination of these three things makes Mt. Clemens a dynamite downtown,” says Anton.

Pictured left to right: Stuart Frankel; Gabe Anton; Mary Otto, vice president for Outreach; President Gary D. Russi; Al Lorenzo, executive in residence, Macomb Outreach.