Church Pitches Plan to Rehab REO Town Cadillac Club

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The Riverview Church is trying to get Lansing to change its mind on a proposal to move into the old Cadillac Club on Washington Ave. in REO Town.

The city's planning and development board rejected the church's original proposal in August.

At Monday night's city council meeting project planners and members of the congregation laid out their plans trying to convince council members they belong in the neighborhood.

"We're really excited about the revitalization of REO Town because we love Lansing," said Noel Heikkinen, a pastor at the church.

"To see a community where there's restaurants going in, art galleries going in, coffee shops going in, we figured we'd fit right in."

Several dozen members of the congregation packed into Monday night's meeting to show their support for the project.

"We looked at the idea of either expanding or doing something else and we decided on the something else," Heikkinen said. "We did a study of the Lansing area and where everyone was coming from and we found there were pockets of people around the Lansing area and we decided to take the church to them."

He said about 1,600 families in the congregation currently travel from Lansing to Holt for services.

The rejection of the original proposal centered around concerns over lack of parking and the lack of retail space,' according to Council member Brian Jeffries who chairs the development and planning committee.

Because the church is a non-profit it'd be exempt from paying taxes, which also posed issues at first with the committee so planners went back and regrouped, Jeffries said.

"They went back and looked at their plans and they're going to take part of the property and leave it on the tax roles," he said.

"The new proposal essentially calls for the building to be split in half with one side, the tax-exempt side, for worship and the other side for banquets and events.

The church is even going to apply for a liquor license for the banquet-side of the building.

Jeffiries said planners went back and addressed most of the major concerns.

The council is holding a special meeting on Oct. 14 for another public hearing on the project with the council expected to vote during that meeting.

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