Council Denies Request on MAC Historic District House

You are on, ELi's old domain, which is now an archive of news (as of early April, 2020). If you are looking for the latest news, go to and update your bookmarks accordingly!


Tuesday, June 9, 2015, 10:12 pm
Alice Dreger

Image: 329 MAC Avenue (foreground) and 343 MAC Avenue, just north of St. John’s Church.

As we reported earlier today, in April of this year Mark Terry had made a request to City Council to remove the Landmark designation on 343 MAC Avenue and to change the boundaries of the College Grove Historic District to remove that house along with one directly to the south, 329 MAC Avenue. Objections to Terry’s request have been raised under the claim that the house at 343 MAC Avenue is of historic significance.

Tonight, City Council decided not to pursue Terry’s request. In a phone discussion afterwards, Terry—who was not in attendance at the meeting—expressed surprise at this development. He tells me that he was not notified until yesterday that the issue had been put on today’s Council agenda, and that it was not until this afternoon, when Terry was already in Detroit on previously scheduled business, that City Manager George Lahanas sent him a message telling him that this might be his only opportunity to speak to Council on the matter.

Terry strongly disagrees with the claims being made about the history of the property, although he has not at this time shared specifics and documentation with ELi. He is also apparently not currently an owner of the property, as we previously reported and as his communication to Council in April indicated; owners include his wife and relatives, some of whom currently occupy the house. Terry says he is planning to buy out their interests, and that he is seeking to de-Landmark the property and to remove it from the Historic District in order to increase its value.

Terry did not specify how such moves would lead to a value increase, but presumably he is referring to the fact that these changes would allow the property to be changed and/or used for other purposes in ways prohibited by its current status. He notes that the house just to the south of the property is rented to 12 occupants and that the properties back up on a city parking garage.

According to assessment records, the house to the south, at 329 MAC Avenue—which Terry’s proposal would also remove from the College Grove Historic District—is owned by Infinity MAC, LLC. That company is owned by Kris Elliott, the developer who built St. Anne Lofts around the corner.

During public comment tonight, Daniel Bollman of Bailey Street said that removing individual houses from a historic district without complete review is bad policy. He also argued that this particular house has significant historical value in and of itself, and that it should be understood as a contributing property in the College Grove Historic District. (See a map of that district.)

Director of Planning Tim Dempsey suggested to Council that Bollman was correct and that a thorough review of the College Grove Historic District would be the way to approach this question. Dempsey also suggested that this not be undertaken until after the Historic Districts boundaries committee finishes dealing with the question of the boundaries of the Oakwood Historic District, of current concern because several developments planned for downtown (including the Gateway project and one or more in the Park District) span properties in the Oakwood Historic District.

Asked by Councilmember Susan Woods about what Terry ultimately wanted to do with the property, Dempsey speculated that Terry feels the historic district and Landmark restrictions on the property are onerous and that Terry maybe has a desire to look at different uses of that property “given its proximity to downtown.”

Councilmember Kathy Boyle asked Dempsey to clarify that Terry hadn’t said that in communications, and Dempsey agreed Terry had not. Dempsey at one point erroneously told Council that the property at 343 MAC is a rental property.

Woods asked if any homes in East Lansing had ever had Landmark status revoked, and Dempsey said he was unaware of any. Mayor Pro Tem Diane Goddeeris said she was disinclined to move forward on Terry’s requests given that the owners presumably bought the house knowing it was both a Landmark and a Historic District property. She did not want the house singled out without review of the whole district.

Boyle agreed, as did Mayor Nathan Triplett. Triplett said he thought staff needed to focus on the Oakwood boundary revision issue and deal with that first.

Council took no formal vote on the matter, as no vote was required.

Disclosure: Mark Terry has been a donor to East Lansing Info and I live in the Oakwood Historic District. © 2013-2020 East Lansing Info