Two More Towers, Bookending the Farmhouse Fraternity?

Tuesday, April 30, 2019, 7:38 am
By: 
Jessy Gregg

The developers behind the ten-story-tall The Hub apartment building (above) currently under construction on Grand River Avenue at Bogue Street have come to City Council to discuss the next potential project they want to build in East Lansing.

Having gone into contract to buy several plots of land just south of the current project – but not having secured the right to buy the Farmhouse Fraternity property in between those contracted lots – the developers of Core Spaces are thinking of building two more student-focused apartment towers, one on either side of that frat.

Right now, what’s being called The Hub East Lansing Phase 2 is imagined as having two towers, both taller than the “Phase 1” building. Phase 2 Hub is also imagined as having more 3-bedroom units and possibly units with more than three bedrooms.

There are no renderings to consider yet, because the project is still early in the planning process.

David Pierson, an attorney working for the developer, came to a Council work session on April 16 to explain that there are some significant zoning changes in the “East Village” area that would help to facilitate redevelopment in that region of town.

The East Village is the name of the special zoning district bordered by Hagadorn Road on the east, Grand River Avenue on the north, Bogue Street on the west, and the Red Cedar River on the south.

The area has a special form-based zoning code that dates back to 2006, a zoning code that has historically caused a lot of challenges for those wishing to renovate or rehabilitate properties in the area.

Until the team members of Core Spaces know if the suggested zoning changes are possible, they’re holding off on designing the proposed new structure or structures.

About the only certainty in the Hub East Lansing Phase 2 project currently is that Core Spaces is under contract for two parcels of land on Bogue Street. The Farmhouse Fraternity House is sandwiched in between them.

Below: The Hub under construction to the left. Farmhouse Fraternity is to the right (south) of the houses in the photo.

In an email, Pierson told ELi that if the developers “are unable to acquire the Farmhouse Fraternity property, then they would build two buildings.”

The parcel to the north of the Farmhouse Frat is slightly smaller than the lot developed for the original Hub building, and is located directly across an east-west alley from that construction site.

The lot south of the Farmhouse is about one-third larger, according to Pierson.

Unlike the Hub Phase 1, the ground floor of the Hub Phase 2 development will likely not contain retail stores. Instead, the project would be styled to look like it had townhouses wrapping around the base, with two-story residential units that are accessed directly from the sidewalks. The following renderings show a Core Spaces project in Alabama, and are shown here only to give an example of how a building can look with a townhouse appearance on the first floor of a tall building.

Andrew Wiedner, Core Spaces’ Chief Acquisitions Officer, spoke to the City Council at the April 16 meeting. He told Council that Core Spaces is “super pumped” to be welcoming their first class of students to The Hub building in East Lansing this coming fall.

Core Spaces has many Hub buildings and other student-apartment buildings in college towns across the U.S. The following rendering shows the one now under construction in East Lansing, seen looking southeast, across Grand River Avenue.

Wiedner explained that in “Phase 2” for East Lansing, they would like to include more multi-occupant units so that they would be able to offer a wider variety of cost options to their renters.

Currently, the East Village zoning restrictions cap the number of 3-bedroom units at 25% of occupancy, and do not allow for any units with more than 3-bedrooms.

Wiedner explained that in other cities, Core Spaces offers 5- and even 6-bedroom units, which are popular with their college-aged residents. The presence of a live-in manager and high-tech surveillance (including video-cameras and key trackers) means that undesirable behavior isn’t tolerated, according to Wiedner, so the complaints that have been associated with high-density student buildings in the past are not a problem in Core Spaces buildings.

Parking was a contentious issue when The Hub building was approved, since the plan included far less parking than is generally required. The Hub on Grand River Avenue is being built with available parking for only 22 percent of the building’s residents.

Pierson explained that parking in the Phase 2 building(s) would again be in the interior of the building, and that the townhouse façade would “wrap around” it.

Although the ratio of parking spots to residents was not specifically discussed, in past discussion Core Spaces has explained that their target residents are not vehicle-dependent, and that they prefer to build their developments close to campus so that their residents don’t need to have their own cars readily available.

Property owners of nearby properties expressed great skepticism that The Hub won’t cause spillover of illegal parking on their properties.

At the April 16 meeting of Council, Mayor Mark Meadows conceded that some “valid points” had been made in regard to the zoning changes being requested in the East Village.

But Meadows said that he would like to hear recommendations from the City staff. Council Member Shanna Draheim agreed that that would be a good idea.

The Council discussion included some talk of what is likely to happen to rental-house-heavy areas of the City, like those in Bailey, just north of The Hub, as more and more big apartment buildings go up.

Asked by Meadows for her opinion, East Lansing Housing Administrator Annette Irwin said she might be “dead wrong” but that she thought older rental houses would continue renting to students.

Such houses do not offer the amenities of places like The Hub, which will have a pool and basketball court on the roof along with modern apartments. But they are also generally free of high-security surveillance, and often give students opportunities to live in groups of four and more.

 

Correction: This report originally contained the following sentences: "Currently East Lansing's East Village zoning dictates that the ground floor must be 17-feet-tall and have 50% transparency (windows) on the outside wall, which might be suitable for a store front, but not a residential unit. Changing that requirement is one of the zoning alterations that has been proposed." These were deleted because we learned after publication that in July 2018, Council passed Ordinance 1429, which removed the transparency rule for non-commercial first-floor uses. Those discussing the matter at Council were apparently unaware of this particular change, and so were we. ELi thanks the reader who sent in the correction.

 

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