Comtronics plans four-story expansion

Comtronics plans four-story expansion

45-year company is looking to build a four-story addition to its current structure in the next two to four years.

By George Brown
October 12, 2002

A growing Jackson security and communications business will stay downtown and expand, thanks in part to an agreement with the city and Consumers Energy.

Comtronics will add a 40,000-square-foot, four-story office complex at its downtown headquarters at 315 Water St., company President and CEO John A. Campau said. Groundbreaking will be in the next two to four years, he said.

The building addition, estimated to cost between $3 million and $4 million, will connect with the current structure on its north side.

"Everything worked out nicely because the city needed land and we needed parking," Campau said.

Comtronics, which has 135 employees, plans to add 50 more workers in the expansion. The company also is negotiating an acquisition of a southeastern Michigan alarm company that could create 25 more jobs, he said.

The company has 20 satellite locations in Michigan and Wisconsin, with business concerns in eight other states.

The proposed expansion piggybacks with the Jackson City Council's approval this week of a land swap with the company, giving Comtronics room for 75 parking spaces along Water Street in exchange for a strip of land behind the business for a section of the Grand River biking and walking trail.

The city had already paid $1.15 million to acquire two properties adjacent to Comtronics for surface parking for the new CMS Energy/Consumers Energy headquarters, located to the west of Comtronics across Airline Drive. Building demolition and site improvements increased the cost to $2.48 million.

That site will provide an additional 340 surface parking spaces for Consumers Energy.

"The Water Street development allowed the city to meet its contractual obligation for Consumers and also allows Comtronics, which is one of the fastest-growing companies in the city, to expand," said Brian O'Connor, director of Community Development for the city. "It's basically a public/private partnership at its best."

Comtronics, celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, will incorporate a $100,000 landscaping project around its building to mirror the city's downtown streetscape.

The company will install black aluminum fencing brick piers and street lights on its property adjacent to a section of the Grand River Trail, a city biking and walking trail that runs from Jackson's southern border along the river to its northern boundary.

Campau said the expansion plan came about because he needs more space for the company's video surveillance and burglar alarm operation, which makes up about 65 percent of his business.

The company generated more than $15 million in Nextel sales and service in the last year and also sells commercial and residential security systems and satellite television installations.

Campau, the Greater Jackson Chamber of Commerce Small Business Person of the Year in 2001, said the company had considered relocating.

"Despite looking at another location to increase our office space, we really wanted to stay downtown," he said.

"We've been putting money into our infrastructure, hiring and satellite locations, and truly believe we have a partnership with the city that integrates us in this area's development."

Comtronics has also contracted with the city to supply video surveillance equipment for the Consumers surface parking lot, according to Campau. That parking completes the city's commitment to the energy giant to provide 1,300 parking spaces near the new building, set to open next year.

Reprinted with permission from The Jackson Citizen Patriot
Copyright October 2002

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