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Lansing power plant deal switching 'on'

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Good news for urban redevelopment!

Lansing power plant deal switching 'on'

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By JEREMY W. STEELE

[email protected]

Lansing/Jackson Business Review

After years of talk about its potential, plans to redevelop the riverfront site of a downtown Lansing power plant are inching closer to reality.

Developers last week were in talks with city leaders after reaching a deal with the Lansing Board of Water & Light to buy the Ottawa Power Station's former coal storage site at Shiawassee Street and Grand Avenue. The $1,032,500 sale to River Street Triangle, controlled by Joel Ferguson and Gary Granger, must be approved by Lansing's city council because BWL is a city-owned agency.

Discussions about project design were to take place June 15, said Ferguson, head of Ferguson Development in Lansing.

"We hope to get started soon," he said.

City officials, meanwhile, say it's likely only weeks before they release a request for proposals to private developers to redevelop the power plant building into offices for state workers. The possible project still awaits final approval from the state, said Jim Ruff, director of Lansing's Department of Planning and Neighborhood Development.

A July 2004 architect's report by Dearborn-based Ghafari Associates commissioned by state and city officials envisions the power plant as a 10-story office and retail building that would be home to the Department of Information Technology.

Lease rates for space in the power plant would have to be competitive, Department of Management & Budget director Mitch Irwin has said. DMB handles real estate activities for most state agencies.

City council on May 9 approved ballot language to place the question of the sale of the waterfront portion of the plant before voters in the Aug. 2 primary election. Under the city's charter, voters must approve the sale of public property within 25 feet of the river. A corner of the power plant building touches the river.

BWL excluded property at the coal storage site within 25 feet of the river from the sale to Ferguson and Granger.

The city plans to build a river trail promenade along the west bank of the river, said Patricia Cook, manager of the Lansing Economic Development Corp. The city has some funds from the state's Clean Michigan Initiative designated for that project, she said.

"We envision going ahead with our Clean Michigan Initiative funds and perhaps some additional help from the federal level to build a compatible river walk on the west side that's a mirror image of the east side," she said. "That's what our intent is, at the very least going from Shiawassee to Michigan Avenue."

The residential project at the coal storage site was first announced nearly three years ago in tandem with a new headquarters for the Michigan State Police on a separate riverfront parcel several blocks to the south. The projects since have been separated by the developer and state officials have backed off plans for a new police headquarters.

The size of the site purchased for the residential project is smaller than initially announced, Ferguson said, although the developers still are planning 88 residential units.

That change, however, requires alterations to the development agreement with the city, City Attorney Paul Novak said last week. Those changes could be taken up as early as this week.

"I would anticipate the closing on that (property) will be moving forward quickly if it meets with council's approval," Novak said.

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This article makes it sound like they are talking about one project, it should be pointed out that the Ottawa Power Plant is a seperate development with nothing for sure yet. The condo plan is well on its way to reality and it could be 10 or more stories, the 10 stories figure was given when planned for a larger lot and only 80 guaranteed units, that figure was announced in 2002 along with the proposed state police headquarters.

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They are only talking about the redevelopment of the power station which is a completely different project than what's supposed to go on the coal field to the north, and the Triangle Lot to the south.

Also, the proposal for housing on the coal field is no longer a mid/high-rise. It will be a few apartment buildings, and as of a year or two ago will only be 4-5 stories.

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That plan was when they thought they were going to tear down the two buildings next to the Ottawa Power station, but is was determined that these properties were not eligible for eminent domain , the building will now only be built on the open lot, that is what they are referring too about site differences. The lot they will be building on now will be only 1/2 to 1/3 the size of the origional lot.

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But, they could tear down one of the buildings. Actually, the brown one belongs to the Board of Water and Light and has been vacant for a few years now. And the other one is barely occupied. I just don't have much hope that the housing will be high-rise. Even when they originally proposed the structure at 10-12 stories, there was always plans for townhomes.

A photo I took of the properties:

7115__312_and_300_north_grand_avenues_built_in_1911.jpg

BTW, the Prudden Place is really coming along fast. Have you driven by recently? They are already starting to face them with brick.

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I havn't been by in awhile but I was suprised to see wood going up about a month ago, And the owner of the grayish building is refusing to give up his building and the BWL building isn't worth much space-wise. Have you seen how tall some of these condo projects are with only around or under 100 units? When I was browsing through them I was very suprised. I think coupled with the smaller site, the plans will easily allow for (if not force) a 10-12 story building. I have tried to contact both developers, granger construction and Hobbs+Black with no response yet

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They are REALLY trying to keep this under raps. I'm sure they are waiting for the vote by the public on whether to allow the selling of part of Ottawa Street Station before they make an official announcement. It would make the development of possible tower much more attractive.

Really, I would have liked to have seen some a retail mall built on this site, with some residential towers above. This would have been a perfect place for the new entertainment district. I have a feeling, though, that they will open up the base of the Ottawa Street station to some serious retail. They will have to do a lot of work in making it pedestrian friendly. In all actuality, if they want to open it up, they must bring down at least half of the North Grand Parking structure to uncover it.

I'm glad to hear that this will be a tower or some sort, though.

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Well, thats alright, although I like the feel of driving under the ramp, they have notoriously short lifespans, most of the ramps in Lansing are due for MAJOR rennovation (structural) or demolition in the next 10 years or less anyways. I would have to pull for an entertainment district further south though, either at that lot at Grand & Michigan or down closer to the freeway, it would be really nice to give a jumpstart to expanding the dense area of downtown closer to or along the freeway.

Does anyone know about the Spiramart proposed in Lansing in the late 70's to early 80's. It was supposed to take up a whole block where Raddison now stands, and be over 30 floors tall with an approximatly 3 story mall on the bottom, many people seem to remember it vaugly but no dates, companies or anything else.

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Update/more info on the plans for apartments at the former coal storage site at Shiawassee & Grand.

After reading through some of the BWL meeting minutes, the plans as of March 2005 were to close on the land purchase and begin construction in June of 2005. Now the BWL has passed the sale of property in late May, its now awaiting action from City Council. City Council sent the issue to the Committee of the Whole on June 13, it isn't clear whether the item has been sent back to the City Council yet or not, but when it does it will surely pass and construction can begin immediatly. The property extends from a 25' easement on the river (unless the developer gets a special permit to build closer) to Grand and from the north end of "The Grand Building" to Shiawassee, it includes the 3 story BWL admin building on Grand, which will be razed, the property totals 81,363 sq. ft. ("Parcel A") which is 56,445 sq. ft. ("Parcel B") smaller than the origionally proposed plot. That plan was for a 4-5 story 80 unit building, the new plan will use 2/3 the amount of land and be at least 8 more units, leaving open the possibility, of a mid to high-rise development, probably 8+ floors, if the same proportion of land use is followed (apartment building vs. other uses.)

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Yes! I'm glad to hear this is finally getting of the ground. Like the Boji Complex, this one has been in the planning for quite a few years now. Critical mass is starting to build.

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Well, don't get too excited yet, I don't really feel like milling through 3 months worth of City Council minutes, and nothing comes up in searchs, so I'll assume this has not come up in front of the council for approval yet. As I said it was reffered to the Committee of the Whole at Councils june 13 meeting, it should be coming up for final approval any time now. keep your finger crossed, when it comes up for final approval in front of the council is when the official details will likely be released and maybe a timeline. Ferguson stated at one of the BWL meetings in March that they wanted to finalize the property sale ASAP and start consruction in June, unfortunatly the BWL didn't finish their part until June, so I would bet that construction won't start until next spring, but demolition could start sooner.

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The city council has been behind ALL of this summer, which is why it's taking so long for the Printers Row to start and the Stadium District (which will not be constructed until Mr. Gillespie is sure the Lugs will stay, and there is no doubt in my mind that they will). All of this is going to happen, it's simply a matter of time.

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The time thing is what makes it so annoying, you know these things will happen, funding is secured and red tape keeps getting in the way. With council failing to handle these in a timely manner you have to wonder if eventually one of these projects will fail due to the amount of time it takes to get approval.

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Not if there is money to make. Developers are very patient people. I chalk this up to having a good problem if there is such a thing. It's much better than the City Council is simply backlogged because of the sheer amount of developments, than there to be no serious proposals at all. These are relatively short delays, as well. We're talking a back logg of two to three months.

Heck, the Eyde's have waited for over 5 years for the Renaissance/7 Block area that has hit one more delay (until the end of the year), but the city to overview the new proposal.

I'm not worried at all. Especially when you consider that in many other cities, delays are even longer.

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The only reason Eyde has waited 5 years is because he attempted to cheat the city and the neighborhood with his designs, as he is doing once again. I hope he never gets to build his 3 story suburban office building. I think the sign said 150,000 sq. ft. Thats the same size as the Boji building, which itself has large floor plates, a 150,000 sq. ft. building in a downtown should be at least 6-7 floors or it's just wasting space. The plot of land he is using up is large enough for more than 8 large buildings if built densly, like a downtown should be.

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Yeah, the Eyde development is ridiculous. You better believe I emailed the city council about this, and some of them actually wrote me back agreeing. The city and residents have had to twist the arms of Eyde behind their backs to even get them to include retail.

I think the reason the planning department asked for 6 more months is because that gives the city time to consider if they want to sue Eyde and take the land back.

The best use for this land is for retail and residential. No office space, I repeat, NO office space should be part of this development.

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Actually, you reminded me in your prior post about this topic and I just emailed Joan Bauer about it.

I had heard, I thought from council, that the city can take this land back from Eyde when his next deadline comes up. They should, this land should be split up into smaller parcels to allow for denser development. I would actually suggest this land be used primarily for office space and ground floor retail. Residential and most retail should be developed towards the East, while offices should be built to the South and West. The seven block neighborhood has some of the only open, privatly owned land towards the West, this makes it ripe for private offices, and it's better than having land on the river, or around Washington used up for more office space.

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The part of the blocks facing MLK should have retail, no doubt. I like the idea of residential better for that area since there is already small neighborhoods over that way. Office space, IMO, should be confined to the CBD/core of downtown. There is still plenty of parcels immediately west of the main core to build high-rise office towers, and plenty of room in south downtown to do that as well. The areas to the west should begin to blend in with the residential character of the area.

Once again, it's all just a difference of a opinion, but I think we both agree that the current proposal is just ridiculous.

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Great news! Lansing rocks!

If Lmichigan's not worried, neither am ! ...

btw: What does this Boji name come from? Is that the old Michigan National Bank?

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I mean "Capitol View." Until recently it was called the Boji Complex, it will be a hard habit to get into, calling it that. But I think I'll always call "The Boji Tower" Michigan National.

The part of the blocks facing MLK should have retail, no doubt.  I like the idea of residential better for that area since there is already small neighborhoods over that way.  Office space, IMO, should be confined to the CBD/core of downtown.  There is still plenty of parcels immediately west of the main core to build high-rise office towers, and plenty of room in south downtown to do that as well.  The areas to the west should begin to blend in with the residential character of the area.

Once again, it's all just a difference of a opinion, but I think we both agree that the current proposal is just ridiculous.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I see your point, I'm hoping we can get some large office towers right up against the freeway, there are several surface lots and worthless buildings that can be done away with. I would love to see downtown be dense clear to the freeway, maybe even south of it someday, in the distant future of course.

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Where are you from dunveth?

Anyway, Boji is the last name of a immigrant Iraqi family who is now a major player in downtown Lansing real estate. If I remember right, Louie and hiw family immigrated to the Metro Detroit area in the 1970's.

They have bought up, and are quietly buying up, many properties in downtown Lansing including the signature Michigan National Tower (Olds Bank Tower), now called the Boji Tower, the Boji Complex (now the Capitol View), the Hollister Building, and a few smaller downtown buildings.

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Thanks for the info, Lmichigan.

We have been in contact before. I lived in Lansing (S. Magnolia/E.Michigan, and

Cavenaugh at Logan before renaming). I live near Memphis, and tarry in Lansing

every time I go to visit my mom in Midland.

I'm glad Lansing has bright young people to lead it into the future ...

dhl

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T ogive you an idea of what the apartments at Shiawassee & Grand could be, here is a picture of Trumball on the Park in Hartford, CT it is 9 floors, with ground floor retail and cost $38.5 million. The proposed complex at Shiawassee & Grand is 88+ units and appears to use close to the same amount of land.

IMG_0657.jpg

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