Convexity Properties has informed City planning staff that it is changing what it proposes to build at the blighted corner at Grand River Avenue and Abbot Road. East Lansing’s Planning Administrator Lori Mullins told the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) at its meeting today that the Convexity proposal “will be changing significantly.”
This change in plans from Convexity appears to be the latest step in negotiations between the developer and the City on a project on which they have been far apart on the question of how to finance the project. The plan as it has been approved by City Council involves both privately- and publically-owned land and so still requires financial agreement between the parties.
In response to a question from ELi, Mullins said that the change would mean that the Convexity proposal would need to be taken back to the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission considers and makes a recommendation on site plans before they go to the City Council, so this indicates that the site plan will be changing.
No information was provided at the DDA meeting about the specific changes that Convexity is proposing. Convexity’s representatives were not present at the meeting.
Asked for comment, attorney David Pierson, representing Convexity, responded that he did not have details to share at this point. He added, “We do expect to be at the City Council meeting on January 31 to discuss the deadline for demolition” of the blighted, vacant properties.
As ELi has reported, last week, Convexity wrote in a memorandum to the City dated December 5 (and revised slightly on December 20) that it wanted to be able to build “an eight or nine story building with approximately 100,000 leasable square feet” on the City-owned parking lot at Albert and Abbot Roads, just south of Dublin Square. The memo does not say anything about the proposed uses of this leasable space. The developer proposed that the City would either sell this property to the developer or enter into a 50-year lease.
It is possible that this additional large building is what Convexity will bring back to the Planning Commission for approval. It is also possible the project will be scaled back or otherwise changed.
Mullins also summarized for the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (BRA) the action taken by City Council on January 10 to adopt a revised version of the Brownfield Tax Increment Financing (TIF) plan for this project. (The BRA and DDA have identical membership, and the BRA meetings immediately follow the DDA.)
The TIF plan of about $26 million that was adopted by City Council focuses heavily on reimbursements for public infrastructure (roadways, water and sewer), taking over the debt on the land on Evergreen Avenue owned by the DDA, and construction cost of a parking ramp on that land that would serve the west end of downtown East Lansing.
After summarizing the latest version of the TIF plan, Mullins said that this plan “is perhaps a moot point” because the developer is now significantly changing its proposal.
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