Public Notice: Proposed Demolition of MacKay Gymnasium

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The University of Olivet is proposing to demolish the MacKay Gymnasium on College Street in Olivet, Michigan, and is reviewing this action with the State Historic Preservation Office in accordance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. MacKay Gymnasium was constructed in 1927. Since the building is greater than 50 years old, it is considered a historic property. The University of Olivet understands that the demolition of MacKay Gymnasium is an “adverse effect” to a historic property; however, there are no other viable alternative uses for the building.
MacKay Gymnasium has been officially closed since 2019. Once the building has been demolished, it is planned for the The University of Olivet Student Center to be constructed on the same footprint.
How big and where is MacKay Gymnasium?
MacKay Gymnasium is an approximately 30,976-gross-square-foot brick structure built in 1927. The building is located on the campus of The University of Olivet on the south side of College Street, between Church and Main streets. The gymnasium is connected to the Frederick S. Upton Student Recreation Center via a passthrough. The Upton Recreation Center will remain intact.
Why is The University of Olivet proposing to demolish MacKay Gymnasium?
The structural integrity of the building is failing to include the roof, walls, floors and foundations. Using the building as a gymnasium or refurbishing the building for other uses is economically unfeasible due to construction standards at the time it was built. The building is unsuitable for any other function that supports the mission of The University of Olivet. The facility needs to remain closed for safety reasons and will continue to fall into disrepair.
What precisely is proposed to be demolished?
Site utilities would be disconnected. The building structure and components, including roof, walls, floors, foundation, bricks, steel, wood, beams and pipes would be disassembled and removed from the site.
What is the cost of the proposed demolition and how long will it take?
The estimated cost for complete demolition is presently estimated at $150,000. The demolition is estimated to take two to three months after the completion of planning and engineering efforts. Demolition will be immediately followed by the construction of a new facility.
Is the gymnasium a historic building or place?
The building’s age makes it a “historic building” by definition and is thus eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places; however, it is not currently a listed historic place. MacKay Gymnasium served the College well for 92 years, and it holds countless memories for the alumni who used the gym while studying at the College. The MacKay Gymnasium will be memorialized within the new Student Center suitably and visually to ensure its significance in the history of The University of Olivet is not forgotten.
What kinds of hazardous material could be removed by the demolition?
The materials to be removed are expected to consist of non-hazardous construction debris that would be recycled if feasible. Small amounts of asbestos (pipe covering) will be remediated and disposed of properly prior to demolition. All steel infrastructure, as well as masonry, will be ground up and recycled.
How would items from MacKay Gymnasium be transported off-site?
Materials generated as a result of the demolition project would be trucked from The University of Olivet in accordance with any current state and local requirements. In general, shipments from the site would proceed down College Street to Main Street and then proceed down Butterfield Highway to be stored for recycling at the contractor’s site on Butterfield Highway. An estimated maximum of 40 to 50 truck trips would be required over the course of one month.
How would this project be of benefit to the community?
This project would remove a deteriorating, inadequate building and its contents. In its place, the The University of Olivet Student Center will be built. The Student Center will be a visually appealing building that will serve as a vibrant and inclusive place for Olivet’s diverse student body — whose academic, residential, co-curricular and athletic paths might not otherwise cross. Parts of the facility and its services will be available to the general public as well. A facility dedicated to the student community is highly desired by prospective students, and will continue to help Olivet maintain a competitive advantage drawing students into the community who provide considerable economic inflows to the City of Olivet.
How will the space be used after the demolition of MacKay Gymnasium?
The location on campus is an optimal central location that is currently underutilized as an abandoned facility falling into disrepair. The new The University of Olivet Student Center has the potential to serve as an engaging, centrally-located hub for a wide range of community, academic and recreational pastimes in addition to key student service operations.
Recognizing the importance of maintaining Olivet’s historical identity, the new center will incorporate many of the same architectural design elements as the current buildings on campus. The Student Center will be approximately 38,000-gross square-feet and house formal and informal meeting space, outdoor seating areas, to-go food service, student organization offices, the College Store and Campus Safety. The Student Center will attach to the Frederick S. Upton Student Recreation Center via a passthrough.
Public Notice and The University of Olivet Contact
This Public Notice is being sent to residents whose homes are in the immediate vicinity of MacKay Gymnasium, the City of Olivet and the Olivet Community Chamber of Commerce. Please submit comments and/or questions within 30 days of the date of this notice to:
Mark DeRuiter
Director of Business Services
Interim CFO
Click here to send an email
Larry Colvin
Director of Facilities Management
Click here to send an email


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