City Doesn’t Know Who Will Occupy Park District Buildings

Wednesday, October 29, 2014, 10:53 pm
By: 
Erik Altmann

An important question concerning the Park District proposals working their way through the City's Board and Commissions concerns who the tenants will be. The five buildings proposed by the Park District Investment Group and DTN Management Company would add approximately 600 beds of rental housing to an area between Valley Court Park and Abbot Rd. The demographic profile of this dense new residential community is likely to have a profound effect on how the downtown evolves over the coming years.

At a meeting of neighborhood representatives on Monday night, I had a chance to ask Lori Mullins, Community and Economic Development Administrator for the City, what information was available about who was likely to rent in these buildings, and about what demand there would be for the 68,000 square feet of new office space proposed to be part of "Building C," one of the three buildings in the current proposal by DTN.

The following is a transcript of the exchange between me (EA) and Mullins (LM).

EA: Do we have any data on who's going to sleep in those 600 beds?

LM: We don't, no. We have information on Building E, which would be restricted [to 55 and older], and we could look at our other condominium projects to figure out a little about the demographics of those, and we could look at our other apartment projects to think about the demographics of those.

EA: Have we done that?

LM: No.

EA: Do we have any data on what the demand is for 68,000 square feet of office space?

LM: We do. In this project overall -- you're asking about the demand, and what I think about this project is that it represents this confluence of demands. We know from the senior housing survey that there is quite a large demand for senior housing in this area. We know that there's a demand from the young professional and empty nester groups. A lot of what we know about demand beyond the senior housing piece is more what we've learned from people we talked to who live downtown and from people we talked to who say they'd like to live downtown but they can't find the right unit for them. So it's a lot of anecdotal rather than hard data. And as far as the office space, it's quite similar. We've talked to several people that have looked for office space downtown, or have talked about how they'd like to have office space downtown at some point but they haven't found exactly what they're looking for, or it's something where if the opportunity comes up then they'll move their business here.

At this time, based on Mullins’ remarks, the City seems to be lacking data-based analysis of who will occupy the proposed residential and office spaces.

 

Disclosure: Erik Altmann is a member of the East Lansing Planning Commission.

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