City Center II Project Terminated

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Some call it the gateway to East Lansing, but the corner of Grand River Ave. and Abbot Road isn't going to look any different any time soon.

It was the proposed site of City Center II, but after almost a decade of discussion, the plans have finally been dropped in a surprise announcement at a special East Lansing City Council meeting.

"Some might ask, how did it take so long to get here? And the truth of the matter is this project would have been transformational for our downtown, but the best project can't move forward unless it can be responsibly financed," said East Lansing Mayor Pro Tem Nathan Triplett.

In other words, the financial risk of the $105 million project was just too great for the city, and it took quite a bit of due diligence by the Planning and Development Department to reach that conclusion.

"We had our staff and the consultants go through every feasible scenario essentially, and the result was always the same: the dollars and cents just weren't there to let the project move forward," Triplett said.

Triplett said even the developer agreed with this assessment. Now it's back to the drawing board for the property he owns and the property the city owns.

"What he decides to do next will obviously be up to him, but again, the city will look at what to do with our pieces of property, we'll look at what he intends to do, and then we'll go from there," Triplett said.

Some city council members are concerned about the lasting effects of this failed project.

"The wounds are that we spent some money, and we're never going to get some of that money back," said East Lansing City Council member Donald Power. "So that is our lessons learned, and how do we correct that for future."

The future has taxpayers relieved and excited.

"For me, it's a movie theater. For others, it might be something else," said Sheila Taylor, who leaves near the site. "Maybe we might have a community health center or something. There's lot of things that could happen."

Triplett said residents can expect the fenced in bank building to still be demolished sometime in the near future, but the building on the corner is up to the developer's discretion at this point.

Many residents said they're happy with the decision, but they wish they could have been more involved in it. In fact, the recently formed Citizens Concerned About City Center II group scheduled a meeting for this Thursday as a last resort. Now they say they can't wait to meet to discuss new ideas for the property.

The meeting is scheduled for Thursday at 6:30 at the East Lansing library.

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