MSU officials have big plans in store for Brook Lodge.
Hidden down a country road, the Augusta, Mich. getaway was given to MSU in March by Pharmacia Corp., a New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company. The lodge is adjacent to about 500 acres of other MSU property including the Kellogg Biological Station and Kellogg Forest.
Members of the MSU Board of Trustees held their monthly meeting at the facility last week and discussed the best ways to use the lodge and the surrounding 80 acres of land.
We see it definitely for corporate retreats, said Joel Heberlein, director of operations at Brook Lodge. Based on the size of the property, I think its more for board retreats. We also see it being very popular in the spring, summer and fall months when the weather is the best for social events.
With the beauty of the land and the surrounding area its beautiful for a wedding.
To encourage use, Heberlein has been getting the facility into tip-top shape. The lodge sports a renovated kitchen and a 120-person ballroom that was renovated from an old storage room.
And Heberlein said hes not done yet.
There are 44 guest rooms, and there is meeting space for over 300, so we have an imbalance, he said. Right now were looking at adding 60 guest rooms, but thats not happening right now. Were waiting to see the demand of the property.
I think the demand is there.
Businesses and other universities are taking notice of the now-public facility.
In addition to MSU departments using the facility, people from Wayne State University, Davenport University, the University of Michigan and Western Michigan University have all signed up to have various programs at the lodge.
Other MSU officials are hoping that a year from now, Brook Lodge will be a success story.
MSU President M. Peter McPherson said he thinks the role of businesses, universities and organizations will be vital in the future of the facility.
I would expect that many units on campus will want to use this for retreats and meetings, but a large number of outside groups will be using it both from that side of the state as well as beyond, McPherson said.
And McPherson said he hopes more people find out about MSUs hidden gem.
The buildings themselves are very attractive, he said. I would encourage people to drive down and take a look at it.
But some trustees say the success of Brook Lodge depends on whether the facility can support itself.
It should be able to be self- sustaining, Romney said. Well have to see what happens. It has to be watched.
Well have to see what other contributions it makes besides being self-sustaining.