Above: The "big bank building" on the main Park District property being demolished in October, as photographed by Roz Arch for ELi.
The ill-fated Park District redevelopment project, which unraveled last year when developers DRW/Convexity were unable to obtain a $10 million State tax credit following interference by previous property developer Scott Chappelle, was back on East Lansing City Council’s agenda last night.
The actions taken last night constituted a “housekeeping” measure by the City to terminate the last round of Development Agreement, Land Transfer Agreement, and Brownfield Reimbursement Agreement for the now-vacant land parcels on West Grand River Avenue and Evergreen Avenue, just west of Abbot Road.
Speaking on behalf of the developers, attorney David Pierson assured the Councilmembers that DRW/Convexity is still planning a development for those parcels. He said the new proposal would have “all the pieces” that the previous development proposal had, but that they would be in a different form.
Those “pieces” are a hotel—probably still a Graduate Hotel—residential apartments, retail space, and some parking.
The last plan called for one large building which would span Grand River Avenue from Abbot Road all the way to the boundary of Peoples Church’s land to the west, eliminating the portion of Evergreen Avenue where it connects to Grand River Avenue. Pierson said that it is now more likely that that portion of Evergreen Avenue will remain open and the developers will plan separate buildings on either side.
The now-cancelled Development Agreement included the straightening of Albert Avenue as it crosses Abbot Road going west, creating a more direct route for traffic going towards Valley Court Park. Pierson confirmed to ELi that, in his understanding, this is still part of the plan.
How much parking will be included in the new development and where it will be located is still being decided. When DRW/Convexity developed their first proposal for the site, the Center City Project was not underway. According to Pierson, his clients are considering the forthcoming additional parking spaces in the Center City Parking Garage as they decide how much parking will be needed in the new plans for the Park District project.
Mayor Mark Meadows asked Pierson if the developers were still planning to start construction in May of 2018, which was the goal under the previous agreement. Pierson replied that that would be unlikely, but that the timeline would not be too far off from that.