Developer Calls Speculation About His Project “Silly Gossip”

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Tuesday, May 7, 2019, 7:45 am
Alice Dreger

Above: The Graduate hotel under construction, with Peoples Church in the background.

Convexity’s Chris Oakley, whose company is now constructing two new buildings on Grand River Avenue just west of Abbot Road, says developers DRW Convexity absolutely intend to build the third building in their approved plans – a rental apartment building for people earning 80 percent or less of the median area income.

That third building has been designed by developers DRW Convexity as a five-story structure with 72 income-restricted apartments and one level of private, on-site parking for 26 cars, marked as building "C" below.

It will sit at 341 Evergreen Avenue, an empty, fenced lot now being used for construction staging for the two buildings DRW Convexity is building along Grand River Avenue (shown below).

The building at 341 Evergreen Avenue was included in DRW Convexity’s project as a way to satisfy the City of East Lansing’s Ordinance 1384, which requires that 25 percent of housing units in new, big downtown developments be (a) for people with low or moderate income levels or (b) for people age 55 and up or (c) sold as owner-occupied condo apartments.

At the East Lansing Downtown Development Authority’s meeting last week, one DDA member speculated that DRW Convexity might ultimately not construct the moderate-income building at 341 Evergreen Avenue. Other people have suggested the same in other contexts.

If the 341 Evergreen Avenue moderate-income building is not completed by January 1, 2025, according to the Development Agreement the land would be transferred to the City for use as “public open space.”

Asked by ELi for comment on that speculation, Oakley, who is Director of Design at Convexity Properties, responded, “With respect to 341 Evergreen and based on our current schedules, we are to file for permit by the end of 2021 and the building must be completed by the end of 2024. We fully expect to be complete with that building well before this deadline and have absolutely no intention of letting our property transfer to the City of East Lansing.”

Oakley added, “Any comment or conversation to the contrary is silly gossip.”

At the corner of Grand River Avenue and Abbot Road, DRW Convexity is now constructing what had been called in the plans "Building A" (see above), a 13-story building with 14,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, 2 floors of private parking above that for 89 vehicles, and 218 rental apartments housing about 370 people above that. The construction site is shown here, along Abbot Road, in a shot taken yesterday:

"Building A" is now being called The Abbot, and is set to open in August 2020. A webpage set up by the developers for The Abbot indicates that the apartments will be fully furnished and that the building will include “Rooftop Sky Lounge with Outdoor Spa,” steam and sauna rooms, a tanning bed, the “latest technology,” in-unit washers and driers, a bike room, and study rooms.

Just west of there, DRW Convexity is building a 10-story building for The Graduate hotel chain ("Building D" as shown above). That will have 194 guest rooms, a ballroom, hotel meeting rooms, and a rooftop restaurant and bar. On the ground floor will be a fitness room for hotel guests as well as a public café space as part of the lobby. The hotel will have no on-site parking, with all guests either self-parking in City lots or using a valet service.

Below: The Graduate hotel rendered to the left, with The Abbot to the right. Peoples Church is to the far left.

According to Steve Kehm, Director of Development & Construction for AJ Capital Partners, The Graduate hotel will open in Fall of 2020.

This project has been fully approved and financed. It is a completely separate project from the Royal Vlahakis proposal, which ELi has also been covering.


See EL's complete reporting on DRW Convexity's project here. © 2013-2020 East Lansing Info