Take a picture of the old Ave Maria University campus in Ypsilanti now because Schoolpictures.com begins its expansion and conversion of the former school this summer.
The web-based company has nearly acquired all the rezoning and permit approvals it needs. "Then the 'real' work begins," says Skip Cerier, president of Schoolpictures.com.
Schoolpictures is in the process of taking over the old Ave Maria University campus on Forest Avenue between the campus of Eastern Michigan University and Frog Island Park. It'll complete the move from its Pittsfield Township office to the Ypsilanti campus by fall of next year.
Schoolpictures.com is a rapidly growing firm that started with seven employees three years ago and has since grown to 41. The company's business has more than doubled in that time and it hopes to reach well beyond those numbers in the next five years.
The rapid growth set off a search for new offices. Eighteen cities across the country were considered. Cerier chose Ypsilanti because the new offices would be close to EMU's campus, allowing it to work closely with the school and its students.
Schoolpictures.com plans to renovate the buildings on the small campus, 21,000 square feet in all, to make them more environmentally friendly. Among the additions will be green roofs to the two main buildings. Cerier is also working with an architect to make sure the buildings are certified for Leadership in Energy and Environment Design.
Schoolpictures.com is also buying the campus' president house. The 1864 Victorian home was painstakingly restored by Tom Monaghan, the founder of Ave Maria, to combine historical integrity with modern convenience. That house will be used for meetings and to entertain potential clients.
Source: Skip Cerier, president of SchoolPictures.com
Writer: Jon Zemke