Another Big Student Housing Project for East Lansing?

Wednesday, March 13, 2019, 2:22 pm
Alice Dreger

Above: Rendering of what The Hub will look like once complete, seen from the northwest.

Core Spaces, developer of the Hub project under construction at Bogue Street, is now looking to do a second, similar high-rise student housing project just south of The Hub.

Records show that Mayor Mark Meadows and Mayor Pro Tem Erik Altmann met with the developers about this project last week, and Council Members Aaron Stephens and Ruth Beier met with them yesterday.

Representing Core Spaces, attorney David Pierson confirmed for ELi today that plans are in the works.

“Core Spaces has a contract to buy additional property on Bogue Street, located immediately south of the Hub,” Pierson told ELi. “The reception and leasing for the Hub reinforce Core’s belief that East Lansing and MSU are a great market for high-quality student housing located pedestrian to campus and that the East Village is the right location to build more.”

Below: The Hub under construction, seen from the northwest.

“East Village” is the name for the region bordered by Bogue Street, Grand River Avenue, Hagadorn Road, and the Red Cedar River.

For years, local landlords in the East Village struggled to get permission from the City to improve their existing rental buildings, without having to rebuild from scratch, finally gaining that right only in late 2016.

Core Spaces is a national student housing developer.

Pierson says that the new project would, like the Hub, be build without tax increment financing (TIF). That could mean a big tax windfall for the City of East Lansing, assuming the project doesn’t deflate taxable values elsewhere in the City.

When The Hub proposal was approved in a 5-0 vote by City Council in December 2017, Altmann said he wanted to see more development like this, because it could increase tax revenue and density downtown.

The East Village is not subject to East Lansing’s Ordinance 1384, which requires that at least 25% of units in big new housing projects be designed for something other than student renters. That means projects there can be built 100% for student renters.

The Core Spaces buildings are designed and marketed in just that way. The Hub’s rooftop deck will have a pool, basketball court, and grilling stations. The building will have relatively high security designed to prevent mischief of the kind that can accompany student renters.

Below: An advertisement for The Hub in a downtown City parking garage.

Says Pierson, “The proposed new development would have many of the same features that have made the first project a success.”

The East Village has a special type of zoning called “form-based code.” That code required the Hub’s very tall first floor retail space now being constructed along Grand River Avenue – retail space that will include the 7-Eleven and Georgio's Pizza locations that were displaced when construction began at that site.

For the second potential project location along Bogue Street, Pierson says “the East Village zoning does not require office or retail on the first floor in that area, and Core will be asking to build townhouses fronting Bogue for the street level façade.”

These would be rental apartments that look like urban rowhouses, but above those would be many more floors of rental apartments.

Below: The Hub seen from the south on Bogue Street. The new project would be on the viewer’s side of the project under construction.

Says Pierson, “Going above the first floor, the number of units and unit mix have yet to be decided" for the new proposal.

What does all this mean in terms of the overall housing market in the area?

Last night at City Council, Mayor Mark Meadows said that landlords are reporting that older houses near campus are still renting out to capacity, but that older rental apartment buildings are not doing as well.

The large apartment complexes constructed in the City’s northern tier, along Chandler Road north of Lake Lansing Road, are expected to see fewer student renters as more new apartments become available near campus.

In addition to the Hub, Harbor Bay’s “Landmark” building on Grand River Avenue will open this fall. Meadows has said that the Landmark is renting to more than students, but the Landmark and the Hub have been seen as direct competitors for the student market.

The Hub will add rental housing for about 600 students this fall, while the Landmark will add rental apartments for about 500 more people. DRW Convexity’s Park District project, now underway at the northwest corner of Abbot Road and Grand River Avenue, will add about another 400. That will open in 2020.

If approved as proposed, the Royal Vlahakis project for the area around Dublin Square would add another 500 apartments, including about 80 for-purchase condos with the rest being rentals. That would mean housing for about a thousand more people in the one-block radius of Abbot Road that will include the Landmark and the DRW/Convexity project.

Just over the west border of East Lansing, developers are looking to build apartments for a thousand student renters in the Red Cedar project of Lansing.


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