As published in Toledo Business Journal - September 1, 2018

Joint Forces Headquarters of the Michigan National Guard in Lansing, MI

Joint Forces Headquarters of the Michigan National Guard in Lansing, MI

Michigan Guard plans $40M armory

The Michigan National Guard has purchased 44 acres of land in Dundee with plans to build a $40M “super armory.”

According to General Mike Stone, assistant adjutant general installations for the Michigan National Guard, based on a national strategic study of armories prepared for Congress, Dundee was identified as a high-value area because of the large population within a one-hour driving distance including Toledo, Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Lansing, among others.

“A few years ago, the Army Guard and Army Reserve combined about 3,000 armories. On average, many of the armories are very old, they’re in the wrong locations, and they haven’t been maintained. That’s because the future trend is to consolidate and have fewer and larger armories that are more centrally located or located near populations. That’s part of the master plan, to divest these older, lower scoring, maintenance heavy armories in rural locations and move to more centralized locations, consolidate them, and service more populated areas,” said General Stone.

He noted that average commuting distance for soldiers has been increasing and sometimes it’s not just about the commuting distance, it’s about the commuting time.

“For instance, with the Detroit metropolitan area, it’s great if an armory is only 15 miles away but you have to go through traffic and that can make it much longer. So accessibility is what we are trying to accomplish,” said Stone.

“It is very important that we divest high cost, difficult areas to recruit and retain from, and start investing in areas and facilities that we can recruit, retain, and maintain in the future,” said Major General Gregory Vadnais, Adjutant General for the Michigan National Guard.

The land was purchased from Monroe Bank & Trust for $600,000 and is located near the intersection of Arbor Chase Drive and Circle Seven Drive, near US 23, about half a mile away across the freeway to the east and north of Dundee.

Stone noted that it will take time for the funding to come through because it is often dependent on the federal budget. The normal process time for a military construction request is seven to eight years.

“That’s going to frustrate their locals, but depending upon the Federal Defense Budget and how much money Congress puts into military construction – the army knows we’ve got this backlog of old armories – Congress will debate this heavily in the National Defense Authorization Act. It’s a process. We also have an annual process where you rate your priorities for armories, and this went from not being on the list all the way up to number two for the property. So that’s a good thing for us,” said Stone.

As a tentative estimate, Stone said the armory will be 40,000-50,000 square feet with two units and a maintenance facility for vehicles.

“Our chief engineer and engineering staff laid out a draft of what the layout would look like. We would have a larger than average armory and a regional maintenance activity there to do vehicle maintenance. However, the designs will change over time based off what I’ll call supply and demand,” said Stone. “The Army updates the table of organization and the types of units we have every year, and there’s a slow turn of the types of units we have. I cannot predict five to seven years in the future what we’ll have, but once we get closer to that military construction selection, we would get to a final design to decide what type of unit will go there.”

If a maintenance unit is located at the armory, Stone estimated that there would be around 30 full-time employees at the facility, and if there are two full units there, there could be more than 300 soldiers to drill there. He noted that 10-20 people could be going in and out of the armory each day.

As of now, the armory is designed for the Army, but could be open to other interagency partners.

“One of the new national trends is to share space in armories, depending on what the square footage looks like. We’ve had informal discussions with the Dundee chief of police a couple of years ago. We’re open to the idea of having other interagency partners share space with us and it’s not uncommon. The bigger vision, if possible and if we can get the full funding, is we want this place to be self-sufficient. We want it to have renewable energy so when the grid goes down and the lights go out somewhere, the Guard can be there to respond,” said Stone. “So really, it potentially becomes a hub for interagency activities. So we are open to the idea of having partners, federal partners, Homeland Security, Michigan State police, local law enforcement, firefighters, etc., that could potentially share space with us. With our tests with this in the Michigan Guard, we have a couple spaces where police have shared office space. So I think this is starting to be a trend nationally where you see interagency partners with common interests sharing space.”

 

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