Wolverine Development Corporation’s Joseph Maguire engaged audience at SPDC Industry Seminar Series

The MSU School of Planning, Design and Construction (SPDC) held its fifth Industry Seminar Series event on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in East Lansing.

October 15, 2015

Joseph Maguire, president & CEO of Wolverine Development Corporation, and president and co-founder of SERF

The MSU School of Planning, Design and Construction (SPDC) held its fifth Industry Seminar Series event on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in East Lansing. Featured speaker Joseph Maguire, president & CEO of Wolverine Development Corporation, and president and co-founder of the Society of Environmentally Responsible Facilities (SERF), presented a case study on “Reusing Commercial Sites.” Maguire is also the facilitator of this series, which are popular with local alumni and industry leaders, and help to show SPDC students real-world examples of what is possible to achieve upon graduation.

Maguire began his talk by discussing the roots of the family-run Wolverine Development Corporation that has been in business since 1924. It was with great pride that he shared how his grandfather started developing and redeveloping business properties leading to the construction of the first five McDonalds in the country, which are still in operation. Over the years, the organization started specializing in free standing building. A pearl of wisdom he shared was that “the best investment is the building already built.”

Colin Maguire, Joseph’s son who is a lawyer, and Stan Samuel, also from Wolverine Development and SERF, shared the stage with Maguire and elaborated on the case study, which focused on a former restaurant site redeveloped as a retail center on S. Cedar Street in Lansing.   He explained the importance of the redevelopment process for this site, moving through the various stages: Market Study, Land-Use Analysis, Environmental, Engineered Site Plan, Building Design, Financial Analysis, Financing and Marketing.

When explaining their initial market study, Maguire emphasized that there is no magic or nothing is absolute in the redevelopment process. When it comes to Land Use Analysis, he levied the importance of knowing everyone involved in the process (governing bodies of property and adjoining streets) and appeasing them.

“It cannot be stressed enough as to how important it is to understand what the zoning code says,” he stated. In this particular case, the building had two frontages, which led to a lot of complications—and opportunities--in approvals, construction and redevelopment.

During the process of redevelopment, when they reached the engineered site plan, Wolverine Development was at crossroads, which resulted in a few setbacks, including the most important of questions as to whether to keep the walls or not. Maguire said that the question of keeping the walls is always a question to be answered in every redevelopment process.

Next, in the process came Financial Analysis and Financing followed by Marketing. Since the building could not have a façade that looked like most buildings, and it was set back a considerable distance from the street with not much space around it, they commissioned an artist and create colorful metal sculptures near the road to better market the property.

The project encountered three roadblocks to be overcome: 1) Fire Code Interpretation, 2) Subgrade Surprises and 3) Property Tax Assessment. Two of the three roadblocks were explained with illustrations during the presentation. As a lesson to the students in the audience, when answering various questions ranging from rent to geotechnical investigation, Maguire said as a planner one would have to take into consideration all aspects of planning with a critical eye to detail.

Wrapping up the evening, Maguire summed up their presence by stating “we are green for a lot of reasons, and that’s the right way!”

Save the Date

The next event in the series takes place on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015, in Room 300 of the Human Ecology Building at Michigan State University in East Lansing. The featured speaker will be Peter Riguardi, president of JLL’s New York Tri-state region. He will present on “The World Trade Center More than Just a Redevelopment.” Riguardi is the first series speaker from the Urban & Regional Planning discipline.

To download Maguire’s presentation and for more information about the Series, visit SPDC Industry Speaker Series

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