A U-M grad and friend of mine wrote to me about my suggestion that the University incorporate private commercial space and perhaps even housing in their new buildings in the medical campus:
“You have hit on something that a group of students is working on for North Campus that could really benefit the UM community. This group is working on getting the U to allow a private company to open a pub/bar on North Campus. I think your point on mixed-use buildings really fits into this. The new Arthur Miller Theatre will now be built on the current Pierpont Commons parking lot. To counter the horrible parking problem that would be created, a parking structure is part of the plan. This structure’s first floor should be reserved for private occupation. I really think getting the horrible U bureaucracy out of the equation is key here. Put the retail space in the plans, build it, and then lease it. When the U controls things (a.k.a., Pierpont Commons, which I served on the board for last year) prices skyrocket, quality stinks (McDonald’s), and change is horribly slow … ”
Although building space to rent might cost more in up front construction costs, ultimately the University would be able to profit off the space, and provide needed services to students to boot!