Van Lare Hall renovations important to ACC

ALPENA — There are three reasons for the proposed renovations of Van Lare Hall, Alpena Community President Don MacMaster said.

“One is the state capital outlay process. The state was interested in funding renovations. They weren’t into funding new buildings. So that was a big piece of the puzzle,” MacMaster said. “Second, Van Lare is a key building for us. We have classrooms, all of our business office functions, academic leadership, financial aid, student services. It’s a functional building and an important building. Either it needed to be replaced, a very expensive proposition, or we looked to repurpose and bring it up to the 21st century.”

What’s needed there is an upgraded HVAC system, he said.

“Like buildings of that vintage the HVAC becomes very precarious. It brings up to a modem level. The third part is the nursing piece and upgrading the technology there to make it competitive with neighboring community colleges with nursing programs,” he said.

In terms of technology, he said, ACC is comparable with other community colleges.

“It seemed like a natural fit and the nursing folks were interested in it,” he said.

The current cost of the project is about $6.7 million.

“We’re starting the public raising aspect soon. We’ve been quite successful in working behind the scenes in the silent phase of the project,” he said. “Our target is $3.35 million. If we reach that it will be matched by the state. Of our share we’re at bout $2.5 million, so about three-quarters of the way to the target. We feel like we’ve got some work to do. But we feel like some work has been done.”

At the last meeting of the ACC Foundation the board approved a request to raise $600,000 for the project. As of now the project designs call for three things a nursing program area, community space and a lecture hall.

MacMaster said the community space will be for social gatherings.

“We want to have a space that really shows off their campus in the best light. It’s a place people can gather. There’s technology a good view and a place people can mingle comfortably. It’s also a space for students to use. We don’t have that exactly; we have the student commons area. This would be in addition to that,” he said.

Jordan Spence can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687.