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LMich Oct 22, 2010 3:07 AM

I can't tell you how much I've seen the area tangibly feel more crowded and congested both on the streets and on the sidewalks and later into the night than usual. I'm not just talking about the revitalization downtown, but in the suburbs where for much of the second half of this decade everything had kind of frozen in time. I'm not sure if the growth has happened soon enough to show up in Census counts -- most of what I've seen and felt seems to have started taking place, literally, in the first month of this year, but it'll show up in subsequent estimates.

Kind of tying into that is Lansing Delta Township Assembly (LDT), which brought 600 new residents (and their families) to the area earlier this year...


GM to put $37M investment into Delta Twp. auto plant

Barbara Wieland • • October 21, 2010 • From Lansing State Journal

DELTA TWP. - General Motors Co. will spend $37 million on new tooling and equipment at its Lansing Delta Township assembly plant.

Plant manager Scott Whybrew said GM wants to keep the plant on the "cutting edge." The factory opened in 2006 and is considered the most modern domestic plant in GM's portfolio.


The Delta Township plant already is operating at maximum capacity, turning out Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Traverse crossovers. The plant's 3,896 workers are divided into three shifts and frequently work six days a week.


LMich Oct 26, 2010 7:37 AM

Well, Market Place is back on. This isn't much of a surprise. The council illegally blocked the project by not keeping up their end of the bargain:


Ingham judge OKs Marketplace plan

Susan Vela • • October 25, 2010


Lansing – Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina ruled today that the Market Place Redevelopment Brownfield Plan meets all criteria required under the state’s Brownfield Redevelopment Act and should have been approved by the Lansing City Council.

Aquilina’s order constitutes city council approval, which was required for the project to proceed.

“We’re thankful the court has approved the project and we can get started,” said Market Place developer Pat Gillespie, CEO of the Gillespie Group. “Lansing has made a great deal of progress over the last few years and it would have been a shame for that progress to stall.

“We will now put 100 percent of our efforts into continuing to help grow this city by completing the first phase of Marketplace, as was originally agreed to in our development agreement with the city,” Gillespie said.

Neither City Attorney Brig Smith nor council members wanted to comment on Aquilina’s decision Monday.

Jerry Ambrose, the city’s finance director, said the court ruling is a “positive.”

“We are more determined than ever to bring business and labor together,” he said.

On Oct. 11, the council deadlocked 4-4 on approving about $4 million in incentives for the proposed mixed-use project along the Grand River in downtown Lansing. A four-member council block has aligned itself with labor groups demanding union scale wages and benefits for workers on the project.

LMich Oct 28, 2010 10:31 AM

Y mas...

Lansing State Journal file photo

New Cadillac coming: General Motors Co.'s Lansing Grand River Assembly plant.

Lansing GM plant to land new Cadillac, more jobs

Melissa Domsic • • October 28, 2010 • From Lansing State Journal

eneral Motors Co.'s Lansing Grand River Assembly plant has won the race for a new Cadillac vehicle - and hundreds of jobs that go with it.

The Detroit carmaker is expected to announce today it will invest $190 million in the plant and add about 600 jobs at as it gears up to make the Cadillac ATS small car.


The Lansing Grand River plans come on the heels of GM's announcement last week that it would spend $37 million on new tooling and equipment at the Lansing Delta Township assembly plant, which makes the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Traverse crossovers.

The company in March added a third shift to the Lansing Delta Township plant, bringing in about 500 transferred workers from Spring Hill, Tenn. and about 400 laid-off Michigan workers from outside the Lansing area.

The plant is now operating at capacity with 3,896 hourly workers on three shifts. And the crossovers are among GM's bigger sellers.

More residents for the city and metro area.

subterranean Nov 9, 2010 5:32 PM

Unique Partnership Kicks Off Restoration of Historic Eastside Lansing Homes

CAPITAL GAINS, 11/3/2010
Lansing Community College, the Allen Neighborhood Center (ANC) and the Ingham County Land Bank have partnered to form Restoration Works!, a neighborhood stabilization and home restoration project.

The project is centered on the restoration of two historic homes in Lansing’s Eastside, at 1501 and 1512 E. Kalamazoo Street. The two foreclosed homes are owned by the Land Bank and were scheduled for demolition before the partnership project came to fruition.

Restoration Works! is an effort to preserve the history of the homes, both longstanding in the neighborhood.

The restoration work will be done by LCC Environment, Design and Building Technologies Department (EDBT) students as part of LCC’s Technical Careers Division. Members of ANC’s Housing Caucus and LCC students will be giving tours of these houses on Nov. 4, after a 10:30 a.m. press conference.

I live on this block and happy to see the partnership come up with a creative vision for these highly visible homes.

LMich Nov 19, 2010 4:01 AM

The MEDC approved a local and state tax capture that will help facilitate the development to 200 Albert Avenue in East Lansing according to this article at


# City of East Lansing – State and local tax capture valued at $3 million will support a brownfield project to demolish two functionally obsolete, single-use two-story structures and construct an eight-story mixed-use building on the property located at 211 Albert Avenue. The project is expected to generate up to $9.7 million in new private investment and create up to 45 new jobs.
The 8-story building will include 49 loft-style apartments on the top seven floors, and construction is set to begin in May.

LMich Nov 23, 2010 6:03 AM

November 21

Really, the outside work has been done for a few months, now. I was a little irked they had turned off the external lighting the night I decided to take the picture.

In other news SOBI Square has now been cancelled, the developer claims a victim of the recession. SOBI Square was a 52-unit residential infill development that was layed out over a series of small condo buildings (2-3 stories) attached condos (rowhomes) and around a handful of existing single-family homes on the block. The land was foreclosed on, recently, and the developer didn't even bother to tell the city until they found out pretty much on accident.

subterranean Nov 23, 2010 1:28 PM

Kind of sad to hear about SOBI square. Any word on the Lenawee?

LMich Nov 24, 2010 4:03 AM

The Lenawee was just a concept to begin with. I emailed the developers a few years back and the thing was on hold, then.

I'm actually rather pleased that one didn't happened as plan. There was just so much wrong with the plan at that particular location.

LMich Dec 1, 2010 10:26 AM


Area jobless rate lowest since 2008

Melissa Domsic • • December 1, 2010 • From Lansing State Journal

The Lansing area's unemployment rate dropped to 9.2 percent in October, the lowest in nearly two years.

The jobless rate for Ing-ham, Clinton and Eaton counties receded for the third consecutive month, the Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth reported Tuesday.

October's rate, the lowest since an 8.1 percent jobless rate in December 2008, dropped from 9.9 percent in September and 10.4 percent in October 2009.


The area continued to report some of the lowest unemployment rates among the state's 83 counties.

Clinton County ranked third with 8 percent, while Eaton followed with 8.1 percent. Ingham County had the 12th lowest rate at 9.9 percent.

subterranean Dec 1, 2010 1:48 PM

There are so many ways to interpret those numbers. Now that unemployment benefits won't get extended, it's likely the number will continue to drop because the indicator won't pick them up. I bet we're still more like 20 percent unemployed/underemployed/dropped out of the game. Still, I'm pretty excited about a leaner, more diversified economy in Michigan. Maybe we'll get there in the next 10 or 15 years. I think we've finally pretty much bottomed out in terms of auto manufacturing jobs despite the recent minor gains (Volt, etc.).

LMich Dec 9, 2010 10:44 AM

This is moving faster than I originally thought it would:


BWL gets green light on new Lansing plant

Barbara Wieland • • December 9, 2010 • From Lansing State Journal

The Lansing Board of Water & Light has received the permits it needs to begin construction on a $182 million electric and steam plant in Lansing's REO Town area.

The permits from the state's Department of Natural Resources and Energy give the utility company the green light to move forward with plans to construct a natural gas-powered plant that will replace the coal-fired Moores Park Steam Plant.

The BWL next plans to secure funding for the project by issuing bonds, utility spokesman Mark Nixon said.

Construction is scheduled to start in the late spring or early summer of 2011, and the plant would be operational by early 2013.

The project will employ 1,000 construction workers, and approximately 180 utility employees will work at the plant.

The facility also will expand the BWL's ability to sell steam to customers in the downtown Lansing area.


Once constructed, the REO Town Cogeneration Facility will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent compared with the existing Moores Park plant.

The facility also will reduce the emissions of air pollutants such as mercury and sulfur and nitrogen compounds.

The plant will have a solar panel array and wind turbines on the facility's roof, adding to the amount of renewable energy generated by the BWL.
Y mas...


Arialink moving headquarters to downtown Lansing

Melissa Domsic • • December 9, 2010 • From Lansing State Journal

Internet and telephone service provider Arialink is moving its headquarters to downtown Lansing from Delta Township as a primary tenant of the former Michigan Dental Association building.

The three-story, 40,000- square-foot building at 230 N. Washington Square, now called 230 North, was left empty last fall when the MDA moved to Meridian Township.

Karp and Associates, led by developer Richard Karp, bought the building for $575,000 and has spent an undisclosed amount of money on renovations. Now, Karp said, he is in the process of filling much of the building.

Arialink, with about 50 employees, has moved about 25 employees into the new building. It plans to house a total of 40 employees there once offices are consolidated.


Arialink is temporarily occupying part of the approximately 11,000-square-foot third floor. It will move into 7,500 square feet of the second floor, which also spans about 11,000 square feet, once renovations are completed in the next couple of months.

Manny Lentine Inc., a lobbying firm, moved into half of the approximately 9,000-square-foot first floor. Karp said another unnamed lobbying firm should move into the rest of the first floor by early January.

That would leave space on part of the second floor Arialink does not take and the third floor.

There also is a basement tenants can use.

Karp said he is talking a few potential tenants he would not name.

"I would say our leasing activity is uncharacteristically robust for the downtown Lansing office market," Karp said.

Photo of the former MDA Building:

Rizzo Dec 9, 2010 6:37 PM

Very good news...especially the last sentence too. The more downtown workers, the more downtown residents and businesses to follow.

subterranean Dec 9, 2010 7:24 PM


Originally Posted by Hayward (Post 5086927)
Very good news...especially the last sentence too. The more downtown workers, the more downtown residents and businesses to follow.

Agreed. Although downtown is severely limited in its variety of housing. In recent years we've seen an uptick in downtown rental rehabs above storefronts, as well as newish developments/conversions like the Arbaugh and the Stadium District, but I still think downtown is ripe for some truly diversified multifamily housing of various sizes and types. Some of the loft conversions are really nice, but their pricing is such that you can buy a home in one of the adjacent neighborhoods for half the monthly cost and two or three times the space.

I realize the trends in the housing market have people favoring the flexibility/mobility of renting, therefore driving the rent prices up. But it's still a bit ridiculous for Lansing. $800-900/mo for a small studio might fly in Ann Arbor, but that's pretty astronomical for downtown Lansing given the lack of amenities. This just proves to me that there's a growing demand for downtown living and only a few developers are coming around to the "urban living" concept, still hesitant to take what is thought of as a big risk compared to green field development. Personally I'm not a fan of the Gillespie-type developments of 100+ units. I'd like to see some 10 or 20 unit buildings going in all around the core by some smaller developers. Townsend's developments seem to be more on par with a sustainable mixed use core, but some of his development proposals have fallen through lately.

Another thing looming in downtown Lansing is the impending retirements of many State of Michigan employees. My office, for example, is expecting about a 15-20% retirement rate by January. Most of the older workers in State government live out in the burbs. Almost all of the younger people I've known to come in to replace those older workers (including myself) live in the direct vicinity of downtown. I have a feeling there is going to be even more demand for downtown living in the coming months due to this trend. I don't think many of these corporate moves downtown are going to have as large of effect as one might think on housing because they are staffed by middle aged people, particularly the BCBS type office jobs. They will absolutely have an a positive outcome on downtown businesses, but I highly doubt many of those workers are going to change their living arrangements due to a corporate move of a couple miles.

LMich Dec 10, 2010 9:03 AM

Yeah, the demand is definitely there. The most recent downtown market study showed that the immediate downtown area could easily absorb another 300 to 400 additional rental units over the next four years, and it's well known that just about every one of the major urban living developments downtown have a waiting list.

Developers have been decrying the tight credit market for their lack of developing over the past three or so years. I do wonder how much truth there is to that, and whether they are just content at the moment sitting on what are all obviously and highly profitable developments they squeaked in before the national economic downtown and not willing to take the risk.

Yeah, I definitely like Townsend's stuff better than Gillespie's. Gillespie seems to do kind of lower-quality (or at least less sustainable), Disneyfied urban living. And, because of that and and given the state of the economy it'd definitely be worth it now for these developers to sprinkle a 10-unit development here and a 10-unit development there. I can also see why Gillespie doesn't like to do smaller stuff. He'd have to charge higher prices per unit and have to increase the overall quality of his stuff if he wanted it to sell at the higher price.

On the price, I was actually surprised to hear about the increases in rents, so I went and looked it up and was shocked. You know have one-bedrooms running for $900 at The Arbaugh, $1,200 at Motor Wheels, high $800 at Prudden Place...

These used to be bargains. This is definitely an argument for increasing the number of units to get these prices lower. There are so few options and so few developers they are charging whatever they want.

DetroitMan Dec 14, 2010 12:48 AM

Merging lane to be added on U.S. 127
$1.3M project is for stretch between Lake Lansing Road, Grand River Ave.
Barbara Wieland • • December 13, 2010


The $1.3 million project will take a month to complete and will add a "merge/weave" lane between the Grand River on-ramp and the Lake Lansing off-ramp. Essentially, a car entering U.S. 127 at Grand River and exiting at Lake Lansing will be able to make the entire trip without changing lanes once the work is complete.

LMich Dec 16, 2010 7:54 AM

After hitting some roadblocks this summer and fall, both the Knapps Center redevelopment and the Marketplace (looks like the name has been combined) development are moving forward, again. So, finally some more construction coming down the pipe, next year:


Knapp's building, Marketplace projects in Lansing advance

Barbara Wieland • • December 15, 2010 • From Lansing State Journal

The former J.W. Knapp's department store and the Marketplace development projects received state tax credits Tuesday as they gradually move from ideas to reality.

But they also need other financial components to fall into place before construction can begin.

The Michigan Economic Growth Authority board approved a $4.9 million brownfield redevelopment tax credit for the Knapp's renovation project and a $6.7 million local and school tax capture for East Lansing developer Pat Gillespie's Marketplace project.


The renovation of the former department store, owned by East Lansing-based Eyde Co., is a $36.4 million project that would turn the dilapidated downtown landmark at 300 S. Washington Ave. into a building with retail and commercial sites on the lower floors and residential space on the fifth floor.


If all financing is secured, construction should begin in the late spring or early summer of 2011, Clouse said.


Gillespie Group's Marketplace project would include 170 residential units on 3.6 acres near Shiawassee Street and Cedar streets. But the property needs environmental cleanup before work can begin. Gillespie said the project is still awaiting the approval of a Michigan Business Tax Credit - a meeting is set for Dec. 22. If approved, Gillespie said construction would begin in fall 2011.
The perennial greening of Frandor on Lansing's far eastside has come back up, again. Frandor literally sits atop an old swamp, and the area has to be redone to comply with federal law:


A New Frandor?

by Andy Balaskovitz | Lansing City Pulse

December 15, 2010

On a cold, windy Wednesday night in November, Ingham County Drain Commissioner Pat Lindemann offered the first public glimpse into his vision for the Frandor Shopping Center at Emil’s restaurant on Michigan Avenue.

To Lindemann, Frandor represents a river-polluting planning blunder. It’s his mandate, he says, to keep polluted rainwater from running off the massive parking lot and draining into the Red Cedar River.

Yet, when City Pulse ran a story in June 2007, Lindemann said the plan was to be in place by now, with construction finishing by 2012.

And while he says the plans are in motion, he is bracing for another two, three, maybe five years of political wrangling, regional cooperation and investment commitments from developers. The newest visuals are merely tentative.


The Frandor shopping area, which blankets the below-ground Montgomery Drain, is the largest contributor of nonpoint source pollution (i.e. rain water from the streets) in the Red Cedar watershed, Lindemann said.

His aim is to turn the area back into a swamp that will absorb the rainwater. This can be accomplished through “low impact design,” such as rain gardens, as opposed to piping it, as is done now.

“I have to interrupt that flow. That’s my charge under the Clean Water Act and I can’t do it alone,” Lindemann said.

Aside from rain gardens in the parking lot, there is also the defunct city-owned Red Cedar Golf Course to the south across Michigan Avenue.

“That becomes the sewer — the whole damn golf course. It’s a huge catch basin,” Lindemann said.

And then there is the commercial development nearby, which Lindemann says could be a catalyst to get the project moving.


A planned pedestrian bridge over Michigan Avenue would be key to linking MSU students to Frandor, heightening its retail prowess. There is also consideration for an outdoor amphitheater and a bit of retail on the old golf course.

“This is how we rebuild cities,” Lindemann said. “This is about rebuilding Lansing.”

LMich Dec 20, 2010 3:53 AM

Eastwood Towne Center to expand:


Lansing Township plan new retail, parking space near Eastwood

Derek Melot • • December 19, 2010


In April 2011, a decade after Lansing Township gave zoning approval for the "lifestyle" shopping center, the township will break ground on the next major phase of its development strategy: 120,000 square feet of commercial space and 1,300 parking slots on vacant land just north of NCG Cinemas. A fall 2012 completion date is the goal.

Borrowing $22 million via mostly tax-exempt bonds, Lansing Township is making a bold bet that the first decade of retailing success at Eastwood is the first of many to come.

Rather than just helping private development, Lansing Township, through its Downtown Development Authority, will be its own developer. The township will construct the store space, erect a 620-slot parking ramp and pave 700 additional surface parking spots.


Additional retail development always has been part of the township's goal. The so-called Eastwood DDA actually encompasses property far beyond the confines of the eponymous lifestyle center. The new project actually is a smaller version of a previous proposal for more than $100 million in development that would have included a hotel, a much-larger parking ramp and two 12- to 15-story buildings.


Rizzo Dec 20, 2010 3:58 AM

Development...but crappy development unfortunately. I long for the day when proposals and announcements of this type of malls and parking will never occur

LMich Dec 20, 2010 4:44 AM

I'd not mind much if they were going to consolidate the surface parking into one or two garages given how far out from the core this is. But, to add more surface parking and a garage is just plain overkill. I wonder if Lansingites know that this isn't the norm for most "lifestyle centers" around the country, today?

BTW, here's the master plan for the area for anyone interested in seeing "Downtown" Lansing Township:

It looks like they are generally following their masterplan for the area, except that they are seeming to allow for more parking than planned.

Rizzo Dec 20, 2010 8:24 AM

I looked at the development plan and just found it hopeless new urbanism. There's no compromising for good urban development, whether is decking or hiding surface parking. I feel in the planning field discussions of "creating sense of place" have been interpreted poorly into stage-set town centers. With the current generation flocking to real downtowns, you'd think they'd try to put together know... a bit more real.

And trust me, this kind of crap is no stranger to where I live either. They'll try to cram this stuff onto an old industrial site. Their reasoning? Well because it was a steel mill, that makes it okay to build 1000 parking as long as we build at least two sides up to the street.

That's why I said I wish this type of development would go away..for the sake of Lansing Township and my own Chicago.

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