High-Rise Could Replace E.L. Parking Lot

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Developers are proposing a high-rise tower for East Lansing's Albert Avenue "Lot #1."

"A 10 to 12 story mixed use development," says East Lansing Community and Economic Development Administrator Tim Dempsey.

Mixed-use, meaning the proposed building would have something for shoppers and something for those looking for a home in apartments and condos. A city survey shows demand for housing in the area.

"(The survey) said there was a demand for 200 units in the downtown. Forty units have been built," Dempsey said.

Developers and city officials haven't pinned down a number of units for this project -- a project planned for a parking lot at what could be described at the back-end of downtown.

But the way Dempsey describes it, the building would be a landmark.

"The height will be (such that) it'll be visible from Grand River and campus," he said.

So, what might the building look like?

"You'll see a lot of brick; you'll see a lot of glass. A more sophisticated urban look," Dempsey said.

An urban look to compliment what the city now considers a much more urban downtown. Preliminary sketches show the building will look much like the City Center, the nearby development anchored by a CVS drug store and fast-casual restauraunt chain Cosi.

This project, like the City Center, is proposed by a Detroit-area firm partnering with the Lansing-based Christman Company.

Those developers are already taking to what the city describes as upscale restaurant chains as potential tenants for the first floor.

"(A restaurant) that would have a well-known nameplate ... a major attraction," Dempsey said.

An attraction designed to draw many more customers downtown. But with the building proposed for the site of a parking lot, where would customers cars go?

"The existing parking all of it will be replaced and additional parking will be provided," Dempsey said.

The development will include multiple levels of parking, some underground and some above-ground within the structure.

Reached by phone, a spokesman for the Christman Company said it'll be more than a year before the building is ready.