Barrio Tacos Looks to Locate on Albert Avenue as Part of Center City Project

Thursday, December 27, 2018, 8:40 am
Alice Dreger

The Center City District development team has announced that Barrio Tacos is expected to be a restaurant tenant in the new retail space being built along the south side of Albert Avenue, across from HopCat.

Barrio Tacos is based in Cleveland, Ohio, and features “tacos + tequila + whiskey.” The restaurant offers “custom-made tacos. Designed by you!” It’s website includes tips for drinking tequila and a primer on the types of whiskey. 

In addition to in-restaurant dining, Barrio Tacos offers take-out and catering. The organization currently includes six locations, including one opened relatively recently in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The Barrio Tacos media team has produced a video specifically announcing the plan to come to East Lansing.

Serving alcohol in East Lansing requires not only a liquor license but a Special Use Permit (SUP) that must be approved by four or five members of City Council. Two things Council considers in granting the SUP are the nature of the business and proximity to other locations serving alcohol.

In April of this year, City Council repealed East Lansing's "50/50" law, which required that at least half of sales at a restaurant serving alcohol derive from food sales.

ELi reported last month that Foster Coffee will also be occupying retail space along Albert Avenue, when construction on the $132 million Center City District project is complete.

The Albert Avenue space is privately owned by the developers but sits on public land that is being leased by the City of East Lansing to the developers under a 49-year lease agreed to by City Council. (Had the public parking lot land been sold, it would have required voter approval, but the City Charter does not require voter approval for a lease.)

An urban-style Target store is set to occupy the retail space now under construction along Grand River Avenue. That store will include a small-format, urban-style grocery and houseware items designed to sell to apartment- and dorm-dwellers. In other college towns, this style of Target store also typically includes a selection of electronics, clothing, health and beauty aids, and alcoholic beverages.

The Albert Avenue retail space will be topped by four stories of public parking, now under construction, starting on the second floor and accessed by a ramp off Albert Avenue.

Above the parking garage will be rental housing restricted to people aged 55 and up. The developers are currently seeking tenants for those apartments, as well as for the apartments to be located along Grand River Avenue above the Target store.

The Albert Avenue senior apartment building is called Newman Lofts, and the Grand River Avenue market-rate housing is called The Landmark.

Just across Albert Avenue from the Center City District project, Lansing-based Blue Owl Coffee is getting ready to open an East Lansing location in the St. Anne Lofts building. The exterior sign has now been mounted for that business, which is expected to open within the next couple of months.


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