Developer Scales Back Plans for Trowbridge Plaza, Not Enough For Residents

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Plans to redevelop an East Lansing shopping center are significantly scaled back from what they were just a few months ago.

Developers received push back after unveiling the initial plans to renovate Trowbridge Plaza on the corner of Trowbridge and Harrison roads at the beginning of the year.

Plans for two apartment buildings to be built in front of the existing plaza have now been pared down to just one five-story building, responding to residents' worry the development would be too dense for the area.

"I think we've got our best foot forward now and I'm proud of what we've done," said Developer Kevin McGraw during Wednesday night's public hearing.

The apartment building would have nearly 15,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, with 76 apartments on the upper floors. None of the units would be larger than two bedrooms.

McGraw, of Caddis Development Group out of Lansing, took his plans back to the drawing board after deciding to delay having the planning commission make any recommendation on the site plan back in January.

"We're trying to respond to all of the concerns," McGraw said. "We're down to one building.. and it's on Trowbridge up against the road, a lot of people like the new urban-ism."

The sticking point though for those who spoke Wednesday night, no matter how much less dense the new project is, student housing is still student housing.

"There's currently a glut in student housing and there's more coming," said one speaker.

Another wanted to see a broader plan for the entire Trowbridge corridor, and not just the plaza.

"This is an opportunity to envision something functional and safe and welcoming, not to plop one lone tower on the curb that will set the precedent," said the speaker.

While no one who spoke Wednesday night was opposed to the idea of redevelopment, it was the idea of having residential development in the area that irked people like Joanna Russell.

"We would like to see the commercial area stay commercial," she said.

"It's not a good site plan and he's not going to save it by adding a few apartments, that might financially work for him, but it'll deteriorate from the entire shopping center."

The East Lansing Planning Commission is expected to make a decision on whether to recommend the revised site plan to city council at their next meeting in two weeks.

Goodrich's, the supermarket currently housed in the plaza is set to close up shop after their lease expires in August. The developer says Arizona-based grocer Fresh Thyme Farmers Market has a signed a lease for that storefront.

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