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subterranean Aug 7, 2008 4:47 PM

That doesn't look nearly as bad as I thought given the previous drawings. Quite honestly I've been pretty uninspired and, ironically, not intrigued with anything that Studio Intrigue has done.

Additionally, I watched the city council meeting the other day on television. There were some pretty real and justified critical observations by stake-holders. First of which that I thought to be pertinent was parking. The second problem that I saw as a warranted observation was that the new market would be on private property if this goes through, and the vendors were not approached about rent, regulations, etc. Yet another topic was visibility. Granted, the site they are currently occupying isn't in the best shape, but it was definitely a highly visible presence.

I have mixed emotions about this. I do not want this to become just some trendy thing for new urban dwellers to have as sort of a novelty, and lose the community building characteristics that the current market harbors. Indeed, the market is not a tenth of what it used to be, but there are real diehards. On the other hand, I think a jolt into the 21st century is much needed, and a prominent river front location such as this might give it the steam its been lacking in recent years.

It's easy to play "planner" on this and see what good it will do to the river front, and for downtown, but it takes a critical eye to see how many people have not been consulted in this process, which I think is a travesty. We should be striving for inclusivity in all matters with diverse interests and investment, whether that be social or monetary capital.

GRap Aug 8, 2008 1:47 AM

I like all of those plans, I think that Lansing really needs them. I see it as having more potential than any other city in the state. I just hop ethe Capitol Club tower turn out good. I may be a little skeptical but I dont think I like the looks at that location location. Its too close to the grand tower which imo belongs in some office park in suburban Indianapolis, I just hope the hight is taller or a lot shorter. I agree with lmich, that the ymca location would be a perfect location for a taller building to balance out the skyline. Those 2 blocks of Washington north of Michigan have some pretty ugly low-risers that should be replaced. One thing taht this tower could do is bring more balance south and in the future put a tower on either Washington or Capitol in the southern area of downtown between Washtenaw and Lenawee

hood Aug 8, 2008 2:09 AM

This is the building proposed for the YMCA site:

subterranean Aug 8, 2008 4:53 PM

Just a couple photos taken with my phone at lunch today..

LMich Aug 19, 2008 3:49 AM

I really like the last one taken in front of the Lansing City Rescue Mission. The composition is great with the bikes and raingardens with the development behind it.

The Market Place agreement has passed paving the way for a new market and a mixed-use development at the current market site:

Council approves Lansing City Market agreement

Susan Vela • • August 18, 2008 • From

11:05 P.M. - Local residents will have a new year-round, indoor-outdoor market where they can buy fresh produce on the downtown riverfront now that Lansing City Council approved a $1.6 million sale to make it happen.

Council voted unanimously Monday to approve the sale of the Lansing City Market to local developer Pat Gillespie so that he can bring Market Place — a $24 million to $30 million mix of retail, office and residential space — to the downtown riverfront.

Gillespie will demolish the 70-year-old market building, which has a termite problems and requires an annual city subsidy of about $50,000 for utility bills, by early 2010.

With proceeds from the sale, the city plans to complete its new market on property just south of the current location.

“Our commitment to Lansing is unwavering,” said Gillespie. “We’re rockin’ and rollin’.”

Council President Brian Jeffries, who along with council members Carol Wood and Eric Hewitt had been opposed to the terms of the sale, said he was satisfied with the latest revisions. Six yes votes were needed among the eight member council.

“This does a tremendous amount to move the city forward, and it helps the developer,” Jeffries said.

Monday’s vote was the culmination of intense debate that erupted once Gillespie announced his Market Place plans last October.

In recent weeks, Gillespie, attorneys and city officials began revising the contested language in the development agreement.

The first set of revisions included extended construction deadlines, a clarification of the costs for which the Lansing Brownfield Redevelopment Authority could reimburse Gillespie for, an assurance that Gillespie will pay the city’s full tax millage rate for 10 years if he sells a Market Place building to the state, and new mention of a tax incentive Gillespie may seek.

Last-minute revisions, which were the result of weekend huddles, included a change that would have Gillespie pay the city’s full millage rate for 15 years should he sell a piece of the property to a non-taxpaying entity. The revised agreement also stated Gillespie would make a good faith effort to hire a diverse, mid-Michigan workforce. It also stated that the mixed-use building shall not include a one story, wholly commercial, structure.

“This is the plan that will catapult the historic market to new heights of success, moving Lansing forward in this tough economic climate is not easy,” said Mayor Virg Bernero. “Projects like Market Place, Ottawa Power Station, Capital Club Towers and Ballpark North, don’t just fall into our laps like pennies from Heaven.”

Public comment lasted nearly three hours. Among the approximately 50 people who commented was William Earp, an Okemos resident. “Please vote in favor of this proposal,” Earp urged the council. He said he favors the plan because of the all the additional commerce it could bring.

Others joined Friends of the Market in trying to save the current site. Sandra Slaughter, of south Lansing, asked the council to “Please leave the city market as it stands, as a beautiful landmark in the city.”

Before the vote, an amendment offered by Wood that would have called for the council to review all site plans for the project failed to gain council support.

Read Tuesday's Lansing State Journal for more on this report.

LMich Sep 5, 2008 6:55 AM

Ottawa block powers up

Gene Townsend’s Ottawa Block development grows cooler and grander. And spawns a Neighborhood Enterprise Zone.

Neal McNamara / Lansing City Pulse

When local developer Gene Townsend began talking to Lansing city officials about his Ottawa Block project last year, Mayor Virg Bernero tried to tell Townsend how it should look — because, after all, the mayor would have to sign off on it. Bernero advised that the Ottawa Block plan would have to be grand and really cool, said Townsend said last Friday, retelling the story. Townsend recalled being a little affronted, telling Bernero he would leave it up to experts and market research to determine the scale of the project.

And what did the research show and the experts find? The Ottawa Block project should be grand and cool. The plan for Townsend’s project was announced late last year, and so far, it is not shaping up to be lame or small.

It appears that Townsend’s new urbanism idea for Ottawa Block would significantly change the Genesee/ Downtown/Capitol Complex area. Townsend would build 76 condo miniums on the mostly vacant prop erty, bordered by Butler Boulevard and Ottawa, Ionia and Sycamore streets.

There’s also a planned mixed-use building, with loft-style condominiums above and retail on the ground floor, that would bring water to a residen tial desert, bordered on the south by a big parking lot and even bigger state government buildings. There’s also a planned Neighborhood Enterprise Zone that would encompass every thing between Saginaw Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Walnut Street (with a jog west on Shiawassee Street) and Pine Street. Residents, developers or prospective homebuy ers would be given tax breaks on new residential construction.

The breaks wouldn't apply to commercial prop erty. Townsend unveiled the project late last year amid a drizzle of other developments. Townsend bought the Ottawa land from the Lansing Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, which bought it from the state for $460,000. The state had owned the property for the better part of 50 years, and it at one point had plans to use it for a governor’s mansion, or perhaps offices. The Ottawa deal was closed Jan. 8, with Townsend taking owner ship of the property. The project has an estimated cost of $12 million.

There are nine existing structures, seven of which will stay. Of those nine Townsend owns four, two of which he will keep. The rest are privately owned or owned by the state.

Since the project was announced, plans for Ottawa Block have changed. Townsend is predicting 76 condo miniums, 24 more than originally announced. The first 12 will go up mid block along Ottawa. We could start to see dirt being moved toward the end of the year, Townsend estimated.

One interesting part of the first building is that parking will go beneath it, slightly below street level. According to the Townsend’s plans, you wouldn’t be able to see any cars.
Another hinge of the project, liter ally, is the mixed-use building at the corner of Ottawa and Sycamore. In earlier plans for the building, it faces Ottawa Street. But Townsend is con sidering changing the building into an “L” shape, so it would wrap around the corner of Ottawa and Sycamore. There would be 5,000 square feet of retail space, which would be room enough for four stores, with “very dramatic” two-floor lofts above.

“The corner would be anchored bet ter by an L-shaped building,” Townsend said. “More people. More energy.” Also since the beginning of the year, Townsend has received a few “gifts” from the state and local gov ernments for the project. In March, the project was approved for a 20 percent Michigan Business Tax credit, which equals out to about $1.8 million.

The credit is so high, Townsend said, because the project will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified and mixed use. Other factors are that it will increase neigh borhood density and is being built in an “urban core.” That $1.8 million, Townsend said, will be passed on to those who buy his condominiums.

“In this market, you’d be deluding yourself if you think you can keep (the money),” he said. Townsend has also been approved for tax increment financing — a device that captures property taxes — to repay his costs for cleaning up envi ronmental contamination. The TIF will take 18 years to repay Townsend the estimated $1.9 million it will take to clean up the site. The reason the TIF will last so long is the Neighborhood Enterprise Zone, which would give homebuyers a 50 percent break on property taxes (and homeown ers a 50 percent break on the val ue of any major home improve ments).

To qual ify, a homeowner hiring a contractor must make $5,000 worth of improvements; if a homeowner makes the improvements on his own, the value of them must be at least $3,000.

Bob Trezise, head of Lansing’s Economic Development Corp., said that the Ottawa Block has spurred a the new Neighborhood Enterprise Zone and that the city hopes hom eowners, or prospective homeowners, will take advantage of the tax credits to fix up or build new homes. Trezise said the city has had limited success with existing enterprise zones — by last count there are 20 in Lansing, mostly scattered throughout the center of the city, not including this newest one. “For whatever reason, people haven’t been taking advantage” of them, Trezise said. There is a joint Genesee/Downtown neighborhoods meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at Grace Lutheran Church to inform residents about the enterprise zone, plus the progress of the Ottawa Block.

One of the last things Townsend has to do for Ottawa Block is market it. He has hired Redhead Design Studio in Old Town to brand the project. The brand, including a new name, could be rolled out as soon as the end of October.

But in the end, the Ottawa Block will bend to the will of the market, Townsend said. He’s not going to build what he can’t sell and what people can’t buy. “It’s silly to predict what the market will call for,” he said.

LMich Sep 18, 2008 6:11 AM

LCC, mayor’s off ice discuss a performing arts center

Lansing Community College is “strongly” considering building a regional performing arts center — long a goal of the arts community and mayors going back to David Hollister — on its downtown campus, its board chairwoman said Tuesday.

LCC and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero’s office have discussed a partnership between the city and the school to build it, Chairwoman Robin Smith said in a telephone interview.

The performing arts center would likely be built on empty property bordered by Capitol Avenue and Genesee and Seymour streets behind the new University Center and the recently renovated Carnegie Library on Shiawassee Street.

The talk of the new center is tied to the city’s sale of its parking ramp on Capitol between Shiawassee and Ionia Street. In the midst of a heady conversation between LCC officials and the Lansing City Council about selling the college the parking ramp during its Committee of the Whole meeting last Thursday, Chris Strugar-Fritsch, LCC’s executive director of administrative services, started talking about the possibility of building a performing arts center.

Strugar-Fritch said a performing arts center on the land would be possible if the college were able to buy the ramp instead of building a new one on that land, which was the original plan. Council still has to approve the sale. Strugar-Fritsch said that while a performing arts center could go on the Shiawassee parcel, everything is still conceptual.

“It’s an idea. It’s just a big idea,” he said. “There’s no project plan right now. It’d be a great thing to do.” Allowing LCC to buy the N. Capitol ramp, Strugar-Fritsch said, would benefit downtown Lansing because it would keep the school's vacant land open for development.

Smith said nothing is on paper yet and the Board of Trustees hasn’t taken up the matter, but it’s being discussed. Smith couldn’t comment on whether the BoarsHead Theater would be part of the center, but she said it would make sense. The city recently purchased the downtown parcel that BoarsHead calls home, but the city wants to build a parking garage on that spot, and the theater will eventually have to leave.

Smith said the center would definitely be for the entire community. “I think we can clearly see in the com munity that there’s a strong need for a performing arts center,” Smith said. “It’s something we’re looking at, futuristically.”

Smith also said that if the college is allowed to buy the ramp, it could build a restaurant for its culinary school on the top floor, plus upgrade the ramp’s ground-level retail space. Some of the ground floor is used for city offices.

Bob Johnson, director of the city's Planning and Neighborhood Development Department, who has mediated the sale with Council, said that Strugar-Fritsch’s statement Thursday was not surprising.

In talking about whether the land could be used for a performing arts center, Johnson said, “You bet.” Meanwhile, the city and its Economic Development Corp. sent out a request for proposal July 28 for a needs assessment and business plan for a downtown per forming arts center. The RFP, mentions that LCC could be a financier for a per forming arts center because it has access to state funds. In the RFP, the city also specifies its Tax Increment Financing Authority (a special district that covers most of downtown that captures new property taxes for a special fund that can be used to stimulate growth) could han dle some of the burden. EDC President Bob Trezise has said that he wants to restructure the TIFA for cooler things — a large amount of the TIFA currently goes to pay off city debt from building parking ramps.

This isn’t the first time there has been talk of a downtown performing arts cen ter. Former Mayor Hollister wanted to build a center along Michigan Avenue where developer Pat Gillespie’s Stadium District is. And Cooley Law School had contemplated a performing arts center at the corner of Kalamazoo Street and Capitol downtown, where the Towne Center building is. A little over a year ago, LCC was con sidering the possibility of a performing arts center where the N. Capitol ramp is. Fourth Ward Councilman Tim Kaltenbach, who represents the down town area, said Thursday was the first time he’s heard talk of a performing arts center inside LCC’s mostly vacant block.

“I’m surprised,” Kaltenbach said. “But I’m very supportive of a performing arts center downtown.”

— Neal McNamara

LMich Sep 19, 2008 10:13 AM

Photo update of Michigan State Police Headquarters:

Rendering (as seen from the rear, no less)

LMich Sep 22, 2008 7:28 AM
Troppo will move into a new building across the street from its current downtown location.

Troppo to move to sunny side of street

Jeremy W. Steele • • September 21, 2008 • From Lansing State Journal

It started as a desire to be on the sunny side of the street.

But a plan to move Troppo across Michigan Avenue could do more for downtown Lansing than provide a bright dining spot.

Officials say the project, which would top $1 million, is a way to reshape downtown's main intersection of Michigan and Washington Square - and provide more fuel for a developing entertainment district.

Restaurateur Kris Elliott plans to break ground in about six weeks on a building at the northeast corner of the intersection to house his fine dining establishment. Troppo now sits on the southeast corner.

"We need critical mass, and I think we're getting it," said Elliott, who moved Troppo from downtown East Lansing in 2004. "We're very excited for all the things going on down here."

The new restaurant would be more than twice the size of the current space.

Elliott would move his Tavern on the Square into the current Troppo space, which is about 5,300 square feet. That would leave Tavern's 3,100-square-foot spot at 206 S. Washington Square open for a new venue.

The new Troppo would be built on what's now a concrete pedestrian plaza adjacent to the One Michigan Avenue office building. Elliott led a $10 million deal to buy the building in March.

But the idea to put a restaurant at the site goes back nearly three years, he said.

The sunnier side

From Troppo's patio on the south side of Michigan Avenue, Elliott said he saw potential. His patio was always in the shade because it's on the north side of an office tower.

"We were looking across the street and saw the sun was always shining on the IBM building," he said.

Sun is key to good patio space, he said. And good patio space is key to the restaurant business.

Elliott said he began tossing around the idea of opening some sort of food stand with a patio in that sunny spot. That idea took a turn as Troppo hit its stride.

"Troppo grew so wildly successful we said we didn't need a patio, we needed a whole new restaurant," he said.

The new restaurant could be up to 14,000 square feet. It would include a 200-person ballroom-like space on the second floor and a possible rooftop dining patio.

Elliott said the first floor would keep the feel of Troppo's existing space.

He'd likely add about 30 workers, most of them part time, to the current staff of 50. Tavern could go from 35 workers to 50.

Council OK needed

The Lansing Economic Development Corp. has given preliminary approval to a $440,000 loan to help pay for the Troppo project, President Bob Trezise said.

The loan, from a revolving loan fund for economic development projects, would be payable over 15 years at 1 percentage point below the prime rate.

The project requires Lansing City Council approval.

"It's not just a project or restaurant, it's a total restyling of what we think is the most important intersection in the state of Michigan," Trezise said. "It is literally the doorway to the Capitol building itself."

'Real comeback'

The expansion of Troppo also builds on more than a decade of work by restaurateurs and bar owners to build up downtown.

Elliott opened 621, which he later sold, at 621 E. Michigan Ave. in 1997, shortly after developer Harry Hepler opened his Blue Coyote Brewing Co. around the corner on Pere Marquette Drive.

Developments like a new Troppo are helping to boost the area, Hepler said. He said he's even toyed with reopening the brewery, which closed in 2000.

"The town has made a real comeback," he said. "The more synergy, the better."

LMich Sep 24, 2008 4:44 AM

Here's where the new Troppo's addition is going.



DeBaliviere Sep 24, 2008 5:20 PM

I love it - what a great little building. While I'm not familiar with Lansing, I'm sure the added density will have a positive effect.

LMich Sep 25, 2008 4:47 AM

I'd like other developers to take note of such a project like this. I would have never guessed that anyone would have seen an opportunity at that corner. It came as a shock, to me given the fact that you don't ever expect a corner plaza (even though it served no use) to disappear.

LMich Oct 10, 2008 6:38 AM

Pierce Development of California released more detail renderings for the East Village proposal to go up in East Lansing, yesterday. Fortunately, the developer has until 2010 to start this so he doesn't have to rush such and ambitious project in this horrible housing market:

Lower Level Site Plan:

Upper Level:


LMich Nov 30, 2008 9:50 AM

The facade is going up on the Michigan State Police Headquarters. Much nicer than I expected. They are shooting for a January move-in which seems impossible to me.

Flickr cheapening of images on free accounts did this picture no justice, but there were workers putting up the facade on Saturday.

A better pic of the south facade:

edsg25 Nov 30, 2008 8:37 PM

What is the distance from RCI to MSU? And is the university's location a major factor for both the residential and retail space?

subterranean Nov 30, 2008 8:48 PM

RCI = Red Cedar Island? It doesn't even exist yet. Currently there is student housing (apartments and a few homes), fraternities, and a few businesses that occupy the site. The site is on the northeast side bordering Grand River Ave., the main thoroughfare, with many dorms nearby, and the Law and Business colleges not far away. The site is also close to a new modern art museum that is yet to be built, for which $26m have been donated by millionaire alum Ellie and Edythe Broad. It is said that the museum will supposedly tie downtown together with this new East Village development.

Michi Dec 2, 2008 5:39 AM

Grand River Avenue separates MSU from the East Lansing business district. Bogue Street runs north/south through the east-central part of campus, so RCI is essentially right on campus.

LMich Dec 19, 2008 12:19 PM

Well, the developer of the new Lansing City Market released some renderings for the new market. I think the actual architecture is far too dull and unassumming, but I'm loving the site plan. It takes out a hell of a lot of unnecessary parking that was available at the old market site, and puts the new market right on the river:




Mid-Michigan Jan 3, 2009 4:42 AM

That's my first time hearing about Red Cedar Island, I'll have to look more into it. Recently was watching "City Tv" and the Mayor spoke on how they will be trying to make the Grand River a major part of downtown, think it's a good ideal and glad to see the city improving.

LMich Jan 18, 2009 9:09 AM

Electric car project to create 70 jobs

Barbara Wieland • • January 17, 2009 • From Lansing State Journal

A Lansing-based electric car company startup will announce plans today to open a facility in Lansing and hire 70 people this year.

The company, EV Performance Warehouse Inc., plans to convert existing, gas-burning cars into purely electric-driven vehicles. Its first project will be to convert 2,000 fleet vehicles for various companies.

To accomplish that, the company will need technical workers such as engineers, electricians and lab technicians. Company President David Sterrett said the jobs will pay "above prevailing wage" but was not more specific. He said hiring is scheduled to begin before the end of June.

Sterrett said EV Performance is in the process of securing a building and workers could be converting cars to electric in Lansing by the third quarter.

The converted fleet vehicles will sell for $25,000 to $30,000, he said.

EV also plans to do personal car conversions that would cost $8,000 to $15,000, depending on the age and condition of the car and how far a driver would like to be able to drive on a single battery charge.

Sterrett said the startup will invest about $2.5 million to get the business up and running.

He said the plan to transform gas-powered cars into electric ones could help turn around the troubled domestic auto industry.

"We will be able to jump-start the Big Three," he said, referring to General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC.

EV will announce its plans at a 1 p.m. media conference at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, coinciding with the North American International Auto Show at nearby Cobo Center. Though the Renaissance Center houses GM's headquarters, the automaker and EV haven't announced a partnership.

The batteries for the vehicles will be provided by Allentown, Pa.-based International Battery Inc.

"This is a very significant opportunity," International Battery representative Jeff Benton said. "Anything that could create hundreds of jobs and generate millions of dollars of revenue is significant."

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