The City of East Lansing announced at 4:30 this afternoon that the City and developer of the Center City District have both signed the Master Development Agreement (MDA) so the large downtown project first announced in February will go forward.
The project includes a ten-story building on Grand River Avenue with 273 market rate apartments over a Target store (shown above) plus 92 senior rental apartments and a large public parking ramp on the public parking lot on Albert Street, with retail space on the ground level along Albert Avenue. The project is supported by a $58 million tax increment financing (TIF) plan to support new public infrastrucure, including the new parking garage.
Mayor Mark Meadows is quoted in today’s press release saying that “the developer indicated earlier today that it is satisfied that it can provide required performance guarantees and it has signed the Development Agreement. On that basis, myself, the Downtown Development Authority and Brownfield Redevelopment Authority Chair Peter Dewan and various City staff have also signed the Development Agreement.”
The City has been waiting for weeks for the developer to produce the performance guarantees specified in the agreement. Meadows’ statement suggests the developers now think they can produce what will satisfy the City.
Today’s press release states that Parking Lot 1 on Albert Street will close at 6:00 a.m. on Monday, November 6, to begin staging the site for demolition. Demolition is expected to begin early next week, according to the City.
To accommodate the demolition, the eastbound lane of Albert Avenue will be closed between Abbot Road and the east end of the Albert Avenue Lot. Also, the sidewalk on Grand River Avenue between 125 and 209 E. Grand River Avenue will be closed.
The press release says people can sign up for alerts about downtown construction by texting 38470 to ELBUZZ.
Meadow is quoted in the release saying, “In the last couple of weeks, there have been a number of news reports indicating that the Center City District project was not proceeding. Much of that speculation revolved around the ‘walk away’ statement by the developer.”
Meadows’ reference is to the East Lansing Info report on October 21 about lead developer Mark Bell of Harbor Bay Real Estate telling Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Beier that he and his colleagues were “walking away” from the project and that the project had “come to a halt.”
ELi published an extensive follow-up analysis on October 24, further quoting Bell’s message to Beier and explaining the problems the deal had been facing. ELi subsequently reported that on October 27, Tim Dempsey, head of the City’s Planning and Development office, told the Downtown Development Authority that the deal was not dead.
Dempsey told ELi this afternoon that the City will post the full Master Development Agreement online on Wednesday morning. This will likely appear on the City’s webpage with updates about the Center City Project. The agreement should include all exhibits, including a Proof of Funding document from the developer and condominium governing documents agreed to by the developer and City that have not yet been available to the public. (Update: That document is now available here.)