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Lmichigan

Abrams Landing: Proposed Luxury Loft Building

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I'll try and get a map up, soon, and get a picture of the current building tomorrow. I was surprised to see a "pending" sign on the side of this building last week or so. I didn't think anyone would ever buy it, and if they did it wouldn't be much. Here's the small news blurb from the Lansing City Pulse, I'm sure more details will follow in the not-too-distant future. This came out of nowhere, and the author of the article informed me that though a proposal, this guy is serious:

New lofts in the works

Bill Castanier, Lansing City Pulse

October 12, 2005 Edition

Local Realtor Matt Fisher has bought the art deco Abrams Aerial Survey Building, 124 N. Larch St., across from Oldsmobile Park, with plans for 32 lofts.

After less than two years in Old Town, Fisher

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No, the building they currently occupied (actually, relatively recently renovated), is next door to Gone 2 the Dogs across from the relatively new Mexican bakery. On the other side if the abandoned rail line that runs through Old Town. The tiered building is up on Turner Street, and houses a few small offices, and mainly the Lansing CVB.

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That really doesnt make that much sense. I can't figure how a building like that could support four more floors on top of it without crumbling. To structurally reenforce it seems like it would cost more money than tearing it down and building new.

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*Update*

It sure does seem like a strange building to mess with. Though, it has some weighty historical value. The company that once occupied this building was founded by Ted Abrams, the Father of Aerial Photography, who had kept his company in this Lansing location since 1922.

An update after getting a response back from the developer, today:

1. The building will be approximately 100' tall for sure. Just slightly shorter than Icon on Bond going up in Grand Rapids, right now.

2. The building will actually have 5 floors added to it, with ceiling heights confirmed at 18' with balconies half way up overlooking the living room. He says the floors plans are derived from modern London lofts, and that he wants to make them different than the other projects going up around the city to get the niche market.

3. The 6th floor will be the developers personal penthouse with an outdoor terrace.

4. Underground parking is being looked at, and along with rising construction cost, is the only thing that could severly downsize or kill the plan altogether.

5. He already has architects working on drawings and structural calculations, and says that if costs becomes a big issue, he could opt to do this project in two phases to save money.

6. He's hopping that what will sell these condos is the amazing view of the ballpark and downtown. From almost any floor you will be able to watch a game when in season, and the view of the skyline is relatively unobstructed (i.e. some thing mesh netting and a few light poles).

7. His tastes leans more toward masonry, so expect a PoMo design, but with some monster windows, which will give it a bit more modern look.

8. Lastly, the historic building (that has been thoroughly "modernized") may be razed altogether. It wouldn't be much of a loss architecturally.

Location/General Vicinity labeled map:

71proposed_location.jpg

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Personally I think this is a stupid investment. The location seems very odd for such a development. I would like to see that money and concept go into a building on Washinton.

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I'm not going to complain. I've always wanted to see Larch developed like the border road it is. Along with Cedar, this is a downtown gateway and sure doesn't look it. Washington is doing relatively fine with a slow but steady wave of facade renovations, and relatively good retention of businesses at the moment. Washington will always be able to attract new tenants and new developments. What we need is the for exterior of downtown to match its center. That is why I'm loving the idea of all of the housing on the periphery with Prudden Place and the Prudden Factory renovation (two separate projects, BTW), The small shopping center going up at Cedar and Monroe, East Village futher in the near eastside, the proposed Stadium District, soon to go up just a block from this proposal, and other small renovations (NeoGen around Oak Park).

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I like the idea of this development, probably a better place to stay for a baseball enthusiast than the Stadium District. It is nice to see buildings rise up around the ballpark.

My only question was the strength of the building, which I now know is being looked at.

The building is pretty ugly though IMO, so I couldn't care less if it got torn down. Just becuase something was built in the past doesn't mean it needs to stay for the future.

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Actually, as was mentioned earlier, the building actually was pretty architecturally significant, but as is obvious by looking at it today, it was largely stripped of its details (i.e. Windows removed on first and second floors, decorative awnings removed and ugly ones put in its place...).

Today, is is largely unrecognizeable, and no longer all that architectually significant. So, old buildings should be saved when they still resemble what they once were. This one really doesn't, anymore. I wouldn't mind seeing it go either if that means the construction of this new mid-rise. I was really wishing Gillespie would do a high-rise across from the park. From what he's said, you won't even be able to see over into the stadium from his development which kind of negates it for me. I really hope he considers going taller with it, or breaking up the block a bit into separate parcels.

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Just imagine how much demand this project would have if they old BWL plant was sceduled to go under the knife. I think that is the ultimate project that would draw people downtown, not just for nightlife, but for living. I think if some sort of mall/theater/other attraction goes in their then we will see smaller loft projects like the one listed above take off like wildfire.

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I have been away for far to long, this sounds like quite an exciting project, I can't wait to hear more.

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Hood, you're back! I've been missing some of your updates. Is there anything new that I missed?

Nothing new as far as I know, except that they are moving in the first people to the Prudden Building either last monday this monday. I'm still depending on other peoplse or school computers for now so I still won't be around much.

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Lmich, I just noticed that you said there would 5 floors added to the building? If that is so then this building should be well over 100', the 5 floor addition alone would be 90' tall, not including the penthouse or floor thickness, the current building is just under 30' tall itself, I'm going to guess that it will end up being between 120' and 130' tall. I emailed him also and he said he has been extremely impressed with the amount of feedback about the project and that he is hoping to have something to present to the public in 30-40 days (from 11-10-05).

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He told me that he was going to try and get it to the council 11/5/2005, but that would be tight. From what he told me, the building is actually 14 feet tall total, and the addition would be 'approximately' 100' tall.

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Apparently this project is moving forward on the fast-track. From the City council agenda for 1/23:

Resolution setting a public hearing for Monday, March 6, 2006 for Z-14-05, request by Matt Fisher to rezone the property at 118 & 124 N. Larch Street from

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Well, I JUST recieved a reply back from Matt Fisher, and here are some bulletin points:

1. This WILL NOT be a high-rise. He said that his architects told him how much a high-rise would cost, and there is no way he can currently do that. He said that after 55' in height, things become very cost prohibitive. I'm guessing this will probably be around the height of the Stadium District.

2. The main cost that keeps him for going as high as he wants to is the cost of steel. He said that after 5 stories, costs start getting ridiculous (for a small business owner like himself). He plans for 4-5 stories, leaning towards 4.

3. He still plans to have this done before the completion of the Stadium District, and wants to bring this before the planning department on the 16th of next month, I believe.

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Well, I'm dissapointed, the entire basis of his project, the reason I beleived it would be success, is because of the 18' celings and height overlooking the ballpark. I beleive people would pay premium prices for space like that, well above what they would pay for any low rise (i.e. stadium district). I would be interested in what the actual numbers are, and if 55' is the dividing line, Stadium District is screwed too because it appears it will be 60-70' to the main roof and 70-80' to the tip. To compare this building would be considerably smaller than the Boji project, which cost $20 million (correct me if I'm wrong). The Abrams building is ~12,000 sq. ft. per floor, adding the origionally proposed 5 floors would equal 60,000 sq ft of new space, half that of Boji, so figure on the cost of building his origional design at $10-15 million, the same or less than stadium district, figure in 12 less units and ~12,000 sq ft less of ground floor space, but then add the premium prices for the best apartments in the Lansing area and I just can't understand how it wouldn't work. Now, with a low rise, unimpressive plan he drastically reduces his chances just because it will be nothing special. Someday someone will have to go out on a limb, I;m wondering if he figures he would only be able to get the same kind of rate as the Arbaugh or something, I bet 1,100 sq. ft. 2 bedroom apartments in a building like this was supposed to be would get $1200 per month bare minimum.

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I'm reading through the reply back, and now something has me confused. He says that he's leaning towards 4 floors, but also said he seriously wants to keep the 18' floor height (each with mezzanine/loft). One last point I forgot to mention:

1. The underground parking is too cost prohibitive, he says. He says that the nearest lot he can aquire is a block away (I'm guessing he means the lot on Pere Marquette behind Claras), so because of this, he will have to really up the interior of his lofts to make-up for the parking being so far away.

BTW, I'm not disappointed because I know that almost all projects are scaled back, and the original proposal sounded far too pie-in-the-sky for such a small business owner. As extravengant as he earlier planned it, unless he was a multi-millionaire many times over, there was no way to make it work. I still have faith that we'll see a high-rise residential proposal before the decades out, though, somewhere downtown.

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Well if he's still adding 4 floors and keeping 18' celings that changes everly thing, I thought thats what he proposed in the first place. But that still adds up to being over 90' tall, so clearly we will just have to wait on some details.

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Ok, some more information to relay:

1. The 55' threshold is for floor heights only. The entire structure is planned anywhere from 70' to 85' which will still be quite impressive at that particular location. Imagine something maybe just slightly shorter than Riverfront Senior Towers up the street at that location. It will stick out, but in a good way, and be right on the street overlooking the park.

2. Something else slightly unrelated but interesting to note is that the developer said he'd had conversations with Richard Karp (redeveloper of the Arbaugh), and that he had wanted to put a personal residences on top of the Arbaugh but was shot down due to some type of high-rise code requirement. That would have been very interesting to see.

BTW, Hood, the developer says that he has been reading this. I guess it's a small world, after all.

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BTW, Hood, the developer says that he has been reading this. I guess it's a small world, after all.

That's nice, I wish more developers would at least read forums such as this, it may give them an idea of what people want, or may spark their interest in something they hadn't thought of before. And, Mr. Fisher, if your reading this, feel free to join in on the conversation! Also, I was wondering if he has explored the idea of aquiring investors to build a bigger building, these days virtually nobody puts up a large amount of their own money to build something big.

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