Baker College dorms remain on construction schedule

The Blue Water Bridge is seen in the distance Mon, April 6, behind the future Baker College student housing in Port Huron. (Andrew Jowett | Times Herald)

The Blue Water Bridge is seen in the distance Mon, April 6, behind the future Baker College student housing in Port Huron. (Andrew Jowett | Times Herald)

By Tony Wittkowski | Local Government Reporter | The Times Herald

After breaking ground in early December, the Baker College student apartments are one third of the way complete.

Jim Cummins, president and chief executive officer of the Baker College system, said the work has been moving forward as planned. The 48-bed student apartment building should be completed by August, and ready for students in September.

“That gives us plenty of time to get it furnished and have all the final touches done,” he said. “It’s still in the rough stage. A lot of the internal walls should be close to ready to be put in.”

Since work began on the 11,472-square-foot structure, the foundation has been completed, and external walls and framing are near completion.

According to weekly reports Cummins receives from Orion Construction, the majority of the plumbing and electrical work is done.

“There is still a lot of interior work to be done,” Cummins said. “I don’t believe the brick work is going to begin until sometime early in May. I’m encouraged by the fact that it’s right on schedule.”

Cummins said the new student apartments costs between $3.5 million and $3.6 million.

The two-story building will house 48 beds in 17 units.

Orion Construction — a Grand Rapids company that has also worked on Baker College’s Culinary Institute of Michigan building and the Blue Water Convention Center — is heading up the project.

Cory Bixby, director of marketing and public relations at Orion Construction, said framing of the building is about 90 percent done.

The next component of construction will be roofing and drying the interior of the building.

“That roofing portion is going to go fast,” Bixby said. “It should be completed in two weeks with dry weather. A lot of the detail work will take a little more time.”

Donald Torline, president of Baker College in Clinton Township and Port Huron, said the dorms are being built specifically for the culinary students but might consider other students if they don’t fill the entire building.

“We expect the students to be in the dorms this coming fall near the end of September,” he said. “If we don’t fill all of those apartments we might reconsider that decision.”

Baker College also offers dorm living to students at its campuses in Cadillac, Flint, Muskegon and Owosso.

“We’re invested in that campus in Port Huron,” Torline said. “We believe it is a good location for the culinary arts. We are hoping to get more people out of the state by having these dorms so close to the facility.”

Marguerte Gavin, who lives near the site, said the construction has not bothered her.

Gavin said the work has been going by fast and thinks the student housing will make a great addition to the St. Clair River waterfront.

“They look like they are going to be beautiful dorms,” she said. “It doesn’t obstruct my view as far as seeing the river or the bridge. I’m happy with it.”

Port Huron resident Dewey Conrad lives across the street from the structure and said it is larger than he imagined.

“Even more of my view is gone than I thought, but that’s life in the city,” he said. “The city’s got to make money and I would like it if they had made it a park, but it is what it is.”

Conrad said it has been interesting to watch the construction over the last four months when workers began cleaning up the area. He said the construction crews put up a large tent where they began to pour the foundation’s concrete during the winter.

Despite all the work that has been done, Conrad said he’ll miss his view across the border.

“When I first bought this place 17 years ago I looked out and told myself, ‘enjoy that view, because it’s not going to be there forever,'” he said. “It’s nice to see the culinary school doing so well, but I like to look at the casino that is behind it in Canada.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at (810) 989-6270 or twittkowsk@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on April 6, 2015)

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