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School for the Blind Property

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This school for the blind issue is seeming to get a little heated. I guess the current proposal is for the charter school to get 3.5 acres and the rest of the land is to be developed into housing through the Lansing Housing Commission. On one hand, if downtown is to ever become appealing for families, there has to be a good school, and the Lansing School District is not an option for most. On the other hand I like the idea of housing on the site as long as the historic buildings are saved. It will be very interesting to see how this one pans out.

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I was just going to make a post about this today.

My take is that both parties are at fault, here. Both Mayor Bernero, who is known for being very inflexible and hard to work with, and the school who is asking for the moon on this one.

Currently, the city is only offering the school a measely 3 acrs, which I don't agree with, at all. From what I heard, this would give the school no parking, no playground space, and no real chance to expand in a meaningful way.

On the other hand, the school is pretty much asking that NO housing be built, and that they get to keep all of the land, which is not only completely unrealistic, but a bad idea. The fact is that that particular neighborhood does need new housing. The neighborhood currently has some of the oldest, and some of the most dilapidated housing around.

What I would tell each party is for each to meet the other halfway on this one. IMO, there is enough room on this huge plot of land for both enough for the school, and then some for a meaningful amount of quality housing for that old neighborhood.

Bernero needs to realize that the school is a very important one to the community, and he shouldn't be trying to get rid of it or make it move. The school needs to level with the idea that they currently have more space than what they will ever need, and that housing would possibly bring more families nearby for that particular school.

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I wish that the housing that gets built can be rowhouses, or some other urban friendly design. I just hope that it doesen't end up looking like the BTS site. I also hope that they carry the street grid through the property rather than treating it as a private development.

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Rowhouses it will probably not be for the simple fact that it would be out of character with the neighborhood. I imagine something like what is there currently, historic-designed single-family homes, but on small lots like the rest of the neighborhood.

Yeah, I was very disappointed that the city didn't demand that the developer continue the street grid. Not only would it have made the community more walkable and cohesive, but only have two entrance/exits on Saginaw is going to create a traffic disaster when the neighborhood is finished and moved into.

The original proposal actually called for entrances and exits, one of which I think was suppossed to be off Marshall going behind Lansing Catholic. There was also supposed to be retail on Saginaw, which would have been really cool and helped the neighborhoods around it, as well.

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The earliest proposals I heard about for the BTS site was for a gated community, I'm really glad that didn't happen.

I also hope that whatever is built on the school for the blind poroperty is somewhat dense. I would be really impressed if they decided not to put garages in the fronts of houses or if they choose to build alleys.

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I don't think putting garages in front would even be acceptable, here. This neighborhood is historically built, as you know, with alleys, and garages out back. Unlike the BTS neighborhood, this area is completely surrounded by housing, so I don't think they could get away with building another BTS-type neighborhood, here.

It was just said on the news that Bernero already has developers lined up for this.

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If developers are really going to be competing for this project it should allow the city to be much more picky about what goes there, and should be a good thing. Below is my concept of what the layout should be for this site:

Arial View:

Schoolfortheblind.jpg

My plan (screwed up, supposed to be bigger):

Schoolfortheblindlabeled.jpg

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Hey, where'd you get those aerials? Ever since Mapquest (I think is was) took away their free aerials, there hasn't been much out there besides the old ones you find on terraserver.

BTW, I wrote the mayor about this asking that he accept nothing less than a truly urban neighborhood (i.e. garage out back, continuation of the street grid, alleys...)

If anyone wants to offer him some insight the email is:

[email protected]

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The arials are from Zillow.com, I had to get that iumage by stiching together several screenshots through InDesign.

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Personally I don't see anything being decided on this site for a long, long time. Which is really too sad because it is definately an urban chunk of land that could be used as a prototypical new-urbanism experiment in the city... plus its close enough to old town and downtown that you could get some fringe benefits that help support and tie in with the things that are going on in both of those sections of the city. I'd love for some day to have that trolley move from going up and down michigan to just going between this site, old town, and downtown because all three had such vibrant, unique atmospheres that the tons of people living in the heart of the city wanted a public transportation route between all three....

Hey I know, why not take the 7 block area, School for the blind, Downtown, the stadium district, and old town and put up a raised people mover! (just kidding, sorta)

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Actually, I feel this is going to be decided very soon. The school is very eager to buy the land, or at least some of it to secure them for the future, and the city has developers lined up to develop part of this land, or all of it if the school does a complete 180 and moves. There is a reason this has been in the news. Time is running out.

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I think that we'll see a finalized plan by the end of the year, I bet work begins next spring or sooner. Unless it doesen't happen at all of course.

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According to this weeks City Pulse, it appears that the election of Whitmer is going to strengthen Bernero's side. It seems that we will see some housing here in some type of capacity, and the charter school land-locked. Some details...

1. Gretchen Whitmer: "I don

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My biggest concern with this property by far is still that they save the administration building, maybe that could become the senior home?

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