The Hub Fails to Make Its Move-In Deadline; Traffic Snarl Ensues

Wednesday, August 21, 2019, 7:40 pm
By: 
Alice Dreger

Today was supposed to be a well-organized move-in day at The Hub, national developer Core Spaces’ new project at the southeast corner of Bogue Street and Grand River Avenue. But because the building didn't secure a Certificate of Occupancy from the City of East Lansing’s Building Department until just before 3 p.m., things didn't go as planned.

By 6 p.m. today, move-in traffic was backed up about a half-mile. ELPD had issued an alert for people to avoid the area.

The Certificate of Occupancy (CO) is the document issued when a building has been inspected and determined to be safe for occupancy. Core Spaces had planned to have the CO before move-in day, but that didn't happen. Inspections and corrections were still happening today.

Dominick Luciano, representative for Core Spaces, tells ELi the delay in obtaining the CO threw everything off.

"Hub on Campus East Lansing had a scheduled plan for move in based on blocks of time and resident unit number/floor," says Luciano. "This plan was hindered when we were not able to start moving in residents until later this afternoon, roughly 7 hours after originally scheduled."

He adds, "Our on-site team is prepared to be at the property until midnight tonight to help anyone that would like to move in, and then starting again tomorrow at 8 a.m."

City of East Lansing staff have said that Department of Planning, Building & Development personnel have been struggling to keep up with new proposals and new buildings as so many are in the pipeline. Things have not been made easier by the relatively sudden departure of the long-time director of that department, Tim Dempsey. The City has still issued no press announcement about Dempsey’s departure, his interim replacement, or the search for his replacement.

At The Hub this morning, one man who did not wish to be named told ELi he was very frustrated by the situation as he arrived to East Lansing today assuming he could help his daughter move in.

“If they knew that it wasn’t going to be today, or there was a possibility that it wasn’t going to be done today, they should have at least sent us an email and postponed it temporarily before we all came down here, driving from hours and hours away,” he said.

“I’m not going to wait around all day,” he continued. “I’m going to go back to Grosse Pointe and then possibly come back tomorrow. I can’t sit here all day.”

By early this afternoon, Core Spaces was sending out emails about the delay, offering gifts and promising transparency. (See emails to residents here.)

Core Spaces always faced a tight deadline with this project, which obtained unanimous approval by City Council in December 2017. Excavation turned up some unexpected issues that caused challenges to an already tight construction schedule.

The building includes 347 furnished apartment units for about 600 residents, plus retail space on the first floor. Those apartments have always been explicitly aimed at students, as with the entire “The Hub” line of towers from Core Spaces. East Lansing’s “The Hub” has a rooftop swimming pool, grilling stations, and other “luxury” amenities, and the building includes a high-security surveillance system to minimize the kinds of problems that can come with undergraduate residences.

The ground floor has retail space with soaring ceilings of the sort required by the special form-based code East Lansing instituted for that area of the City, known as “East Village.” Two businesses that occupied buildings demolished for the project — a 7-Eleven store and Georgio’s Pizza — will occupy some of that new retail space in the coming months. (Those were not scheduled to open today.)

The project was welcomed by City Council because it occupies an area with virtually no owner-occupied homes and will produce hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in property taxes, none of which will go back to the developers, because the project was built without a tax increment financing (TIF) plan. The substantial rental income on the building will also be subject to East Lansing’s new income tax.

But some criticized the plan for The Hub because of the height — far taller than anything in its immediate vicinity — as well as the fact that the project has only 158 parking spots for about 600 tenants plus retail customers and employees.

A few blocks west of The Hub on Grand River Avenue, The Landmark apartments (directly above the new Target store) have opened on schedule. That project was developed by Harbor Bay Real Estate and Ballein Management. Just after ELi broke the story that those developers were marketing the project to students, the developers broadened the marketing to target “young professionals,” as Council had been told the building would be, but it looks like most of those moving in are MSU undergraduates.

Core Spaces’ representatives told East Lansing’s Planning Commission that they have submitted plans for another “Hub” project immediately south of the one just built. The developers have not responded to requests for copies of those plans, so we have filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain them.

Note: This report was updated as the story developed through the day.

 

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