Downtown Blighted Buldings to Be Eliminated by Year’s End

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016, 9:41 pm
By: 
Alice Dreger

East Lansing’s City Manager George Lahanas announced today that a series of long-blighted commercial buildings on Grand River Avenue near Abbot Road will be demolished by the end of this year. According the announcement, the new owners of the “Big Bank Building” at the northwest corner of Grand River Avenue and Abbot Road and the commercial property between that structure and People’s Church have agreed to a “stipulation and consent order to demolish the properties” by December 31, 2016.

ELi has previously reported that these properties changed hands last December, following foreclosure action last summer by the company that was owed millions of dollars in debt on them. The previous owners had tried to wrestle back control through various legal maneuvers, but in February of this year, Ingham County Judge Joyce Draganchuk essentially cleared the way legally for the new owners, WGR Finance, to proceed as they wished.

According to the City’s announcement today, “The properties could be demolished sooner than the end of year, depending on whether the owners are able to obtain proper approvals from the state that ensure taking down the buildings earlier than Dec. 31 will not harm the chances to retain previously approved state tax credits. The property owners have agreed to demolish the buildings within 90 to 120 days after that approval if it is obtained.”

WGR has also agreed to demolish the former Evergreen Arms apartment buildings on Evergreen Avenue. These structures sit just north of Peoples Church and are a set of two-and-a-half-story brick buildings that have been vacant and boarded up for several years. The plan is to demolish these by July 31, 2016.

In a press release on the matter, East Lansing’s Mayor Mark Meadows said, “Since becoming owners of the privately held properties within the Park District earlier this year, WGR Finance LLC has continued to be cooperative and willing to work with the City to address this blighted corner in downtown East Lansing.”

Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Beier told ELi tonight, “I am pleased that this Council is willing to address the problem of dangerous buildings, and I am looking forward to all of the blight on the corner finally being removed.”

Earlier this year ELi also broke the story of the planned demolition of the “little bank building” at 303 Abbot Road, at the southwest corner of Albert Street and Abbot Road, across from Dublin Square. This building is owned by East Lansing’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA).

For the destruction of that structure, the City has received a $99,000 Blight Elimination Program grant from the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority. The DDA will also be contributing $36,000 to help with the costs of demolition. The City had been hoping to demolish this building by May, but according to yesterday’s press release, it “is now slated for demolition by the end of July due to some unforeseen issues.”

According to Meadows, “The demolition of these properties will leave us with one less hurdle to overcome as we move toward redevelopment of the Park District Planning Area.”

 

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