Deep In Debt, But Hopeful

By: Brian Johnson Email
By: Brian Johnson Email

When General Motors closed two of its plants in Lansing Township, it took with it almost 30 percent of the township's income.

"That's when the township hit its bottom," said the Township Supervisor Kathy Rodgers.

It needed an economic plan. So the township borrowed $22 million to build a parking garage at the Eastwood Towne Center.

"[People] enjoy the experience more at Eastwood. During the down economy the theater had their best years, the restaurants had their best years. The retailers over at Eastwood did better than their companion or sister stores at the malls," said Steve Hayward, the Lansing Township Development Director.

The township said its plan paid off. Developers are now planing to invest more than $45 million of their own money in the center.

"The township is not broke at all. The township has done very well. Actually we stayed very fiscally healthy even during the downturn," said Rodgers.

As property values decreased so did tax revenue. Now the township has hit its credit limit, and unless it gets some help, it can't borrow more money to pay for additional development.

The Lansing Township supervisor wants Ingham County to cosign a loan so that Lansing Township can clean up a 32 acre property (see map below), remove asbestos from the buildings and eventually have it ready for redevelopment, but not everyone is on board with that idea--not because the idea is bad but because the township simply doesn't have the money.

"This is the second project that Lansing Township has come and asked for money from [Ingham County] in the last two weeks," said Deb Nolan, the Chair of the Ingham County Commissioner Board.

She doesn't think the county is ready to go along with helping the township borrow more money.

"As a county, we are not in the business of loaning money to all of our townships, all of our cities, all of our villages," said Nolan.

The township remains hopefull it will get support, and the money. The property on St. Joseph is right off the freeway and a great location for regional services. The township says it has several businesses already interested.

If one of two Ingham County Board Committees approves the proposal to cosign the loan with Lansing Township, the entire board will vote on it on April 30.


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