Residents, City Officials Feeling Confident in Second Attempt to Redevelop Site

By: Josh Sidorowicz Email
By: Josh Sidorowicz Email

Plans to redevelop the corner of Grand River and Abbot in downtown East Lansing have been in the works for nearly a decade.

After numerous delays the original plan failed and now the project, formerly known as City Center II, has a new name and a new developer.

DTN Management has been selected to take over the project now known as the Park District and they're in the midst of holding a series of community meetings to get input from residents.

More than 100 people came out the event Wednesday night at the Eli and Edythe Broad Museum on MSU's campus, evidence the community is still rallying around redeveloping the site according to resident Monica Chylla.

"The community's really ready to move forward," she said. "Just look at the cross section of people here, everyone wants this to work."

When asked why this go-around would be any different from the first try, Colin Cronin, vice president with DTN Management, said there was one big factor working against the original development plans.

"The biggest problem with the original City Center II plan was timing," he said. "Financially the world fell apart back in 2008."

Tim Dempsey, director of planning and community development in East Lansing is also feeling more confident with DTN instead behind the project.

"They've really listened to the public input," Dempsey said. "They understand the importance of this public process but they're also a very solid company in terms of their financial standings."

From students to long-time residents, there was no shortage of opinion Wednesday night about what should fill the more than five acres of vacant buildings and parking lots.

Plans to include an urban grocery store, office space, and residential units are all on the table as options as residents were able to weigh in on issues related to land use, traffic flow and desired density in the area.

There was even a station with foam building blocks allowing people to physically build up the city skyline and rearrange buildings on the site.

But one thing most everyone could agree upon: the significance of the site.

"It's one of the most important elements of the whole city," said resident Douglas Jester.

"I don't think there's any person that doesn't enter into our city now and see that corner and want something there," said East Lansing Mayor Diane Goddeeris.

Cronin said there's another meeting planned for mid-November and ideally they'd like to begin construction next November.

"A lot of people I think are embarrassed to live in a town that's had properties and buildings looking like that for the last 8-10 years," Cronin said. "It speaks volumes about the town which I think people want to see fixed."

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