Comprehensive Guide to the Royal Vlahakis "Park Place" Proposal in East Lansing
The developers for this project are Royal Properties, based in Illinois, and Paul Vlahakis (above) of Vlahakis Redevelopment (a local company). The developers are looking to strike a deal with the City of East Lansing for what could be the largest public-private real estate deal in the history of East Lansing in terms of footprint, height, number of living units, and total cost.
The project, if built, would constitute the third major project in a one-block radius downtown. The project has morphed many times, lately shrinking.
Here’s a timeline of actions taken and upcoming:
July 25, 2019: The DDA is set to vote on another contract extension. See the agenda.
July 24, 2019: Planning Commission is set to takes up the newest version of the proposal and rezoning of the Evergreen Avenue properties. See the agenda.
July 21, 2012: ELi reports on the latest, including City staff and the DDA wanting Planning Commission to suspend its rules and immediately vote on recommending the properties for permanent rezoning to B3 to allow for big redevelopment. Read more.
June 25, 2019: Following an argument between the Mayor and the lead developer's daughter, the DDA views another new site plan and votes through another extension, again with opposition from the Mayor and DDA Chair. Read more.
June 4, 2019: Council delays enacting a moratorium on all new projects in the DDA District for another few weeks. Read more.
May 31, 2019: Council's agenda includes a moratorium on all new projects in the DDA District. Read more.
May 23, 2019: The Mayor and DDA Chair vote against giving the project another extension. They are outvoted. Read more.
May 6, 2019: We explain the attraction (for some) of the Royal Vlahakis deal, and hear from three landlord-developers who think the properties should be opened up to bids by other developers. Read more.
May 2, 2019: East Lansing's DDA votes 8-1 to stick with the Royal Vlahakis team, at least for now. Read more.
April 26, 2019: We explain the subtext message to the DDA at the April 25 meeting: "play along or prepare to get sued." Read more.
April 25, 2019: The developers throw a Hail Mary pass, and the DDA decides to take another week to decide what to do. Read more.
April 20, 2019: We explain the big decision coming at the DDA meeting on April 25. Read more.
April 12, 2019: We bring the news that Matt Hagan won't sell his property to Royal Vlahakis. That's more bad news for the developers. Read more.
April 11, 2019: Is the Royal Vlahakis deal really falling apart? ELi looks at what we know. Read more.
April 9, 2019: Following strong objections from members of Peoples Church, City Council votes against helping the project with Ordinance 1449.
April 2, 2019: The DDA sends a 30-day notice of default to the developers. Read more.
March 19, 2019: City staff tell ELi there's still no traffic report from the developers, and still no rezoning application. Read more.
March 11, 2019: We report that, three months into the exclusive contract, the project proposal is still missing key parts, including the rezoning application, the traffic report, and a Brownfield plan. Read more.
February 27, 2019: Planning Commission votes 8-1 against recommending Ordinance 1449, which would allow for 160-foot-tall buildings in a section of downtown
February 25, 2019: Mayor Mark Meadows tells the Council of Neighborhood Presidents that the project appears stalled. Meadows describes the project as “going real slow” and adds, “I’m not convinced we see the Dublin square thing very soon if at all.” Developer Paul Vlahakis says the project is moving forward. Read more.
February 21, 2019: Developer Paul Vlahakis meets with members of the Oakwood Neighborhood Association. (The project falls in part in that neighborhood.) Concerns and questions about the project were subsequently conveyed in a letter to City officials.
February 20, 2019: ELi brings you a special report on what's happening in terms of debates and decisions surrounding this project, particularly with regard to its extraordinary height. Read it.
February 13, 2019: Planning Commission discussed whether to recommend Ordinance 1449 which would allow for160-foot high buildings in a swath of downtown; read more.
February 12, 2019: With Council Member Ruth Beier back in town, Counil voted 3-2 in favor of Ordinance 1443 which allows 140-foot-tall (12-story) buildings in a larger section of downtown with a supermajority vote of Council. Beier, Mark Meadows, and Erik Altmann voted in favor, and Shanna Draheim and Aaron Stephens voted against; read more.
February 12, 2019: City Council also voted 5-0 to let the developers include in their site plans two publicly-owned properties, lots 8 and 15, two months after the developers had already done so; read more.
February 11, 2019: We bring you a special report on how the automated parking would work and what the experience has been of one other city using this system. Read more.
January 26, 2019: ELi reports on mixed reactions to the proposal, and explains what's still missing and what's still in flux. Read more.
January 25, 2019: ELi answers more readers' questions about the project, bringing news on various parts. Read more.
January 24, 2019: East Lansing’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority is set to discuss the tax incentives plan, but the developers pull the plan before the meeting. Read more.
January 24, 2019: The Downtown Development Authority discusses the site plan. Read more.
January 23, 2019: Planning Commission holds a public hearing on the site plan application, and Peoples Church represenatives express concerns. Read more.
January 23, 2019: We answer lots of questions about the project here.
January 22, 2019: City Council holds a public hearing on Ordinance 1443, an ordinance designed to set the stage for allowing the 135-foot (12-story) Park Place West building from Royal Vlahakis on Evergreen Avenue. It fails when Council Members Shanna Draheim and Aaron Stephens refuse to support the ordinance at this time. Read more.
January 20, 2019: ELi provides analysis of what’s in the proposal. Take a look.
January 18, 2019: The City releases the proposal.
January 15, 2019: ELi looks at renderings versus reality of what gets built in East Lansing. Read more.
January 14, 2019: ELi reports that Council Member Shanna Draheim says she’s “really conflicted” about the proposal. Council Member Erik Altmann defends the project’s height and developer Paul Vlahakis explains why he thinks it’s a great project. Read more.
January 8, 2019: In a special "add-on" agenda item, City Council appoints Paul Vlahakis' daughter, attorney Alexis Vlahakis Cole, to the Zoning Board of Appeals. The ZBA will likely have to approve some of the proposed actions for the project.
January 7, 2019: Having obtained the developers’ proposal via the Freedom of Information Act, ELi provides analysis of the proposal’s first version. Read more.
January 3, 2019: ELi invites readers to view the proposal obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
December 26, 2018: ELi reports that the City tells ELi that it needs more time to find the application the developers submitted on December 17. Read more.
December 17, 2018: The developers submit a site plan and special use application permit, as required by the contract with East Lansing’s Downtown Development Authority. But it’s missing information and doesn’t make sense in some places. Read more.
December 12, 2018: A 6-2 majority of Planning Commission recommends against allowing a height change necessary to permit the 12-story Royal Vlahakis building on Evergreen Avenue. (The matter later came to Council for a negative decision on January 22.) Read more.
December 11, 2018: The developers present their ideas to Council, revealing for the first time the desire to build a 14-story (really 15-story) building on Abbot Road at the Dublin Square site. It’s the first time at least two Council members have been truly let in on the deal. Read more.
December 7 2018: ELi looks at the draft agreement between the DDA and the developers. Read more.
November 14, 2018: ELi reports that Mayor Mark Meadows and Mayor Pro Tem Erik Altmann are working on the deal with the developers behind closed doors. Read more.
October 25, 2018: The DDA indicates unanimous support for making a deal with developers Royal Properties and Vlahakis Development. Read more.
October 22, 2018: ELi reports on the extraordinary process being used in the project's deal-making. We’ve never seen anything like it. Read more.
October 14, 2018: We report that the Historic District Commission is urging that the old Post Office building, now housing Dublin Square, be preserved. Read more.
August 21, 2018: Developer Paul Vlahakis explains his companies’ tax delinquencies and his libel suit against the City Pulse, advocating his project. Read more.
August 17, 2018: We break the story of what developer Paul Vlahakis wants to do with the Dublin Square and DDA Evergreen Avenue properties. Read more.
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