Downtown Lifestyle District / Center City District



  • I guess I commented on the E.L. page, this looks so great. As they say in Massachusetts "cross yah fingahs" maybe it will be as nice as the drawings.

  • The proposal failed to pass in front of the planning commission last night, on a 4-4 split vote. The planning commission's vote is a recommendation to council, not literally blocking the project. The project will have a public hearing in front of the city council on May 9th.

    One of the changes noted in this last iteration is the removal of one of the floors of parking on the Albert Ave lot to five floors, reducing the overall height of the building to 11 stories.

  • I hope this goes through still, just for the simple fact that we definitely don't need more properties in limbo along that stretch of Grand River.

    That said, I was a little sad about the location. If the other development at Abbot and Grand River goes through too, there won't be too many "old school" downtown buildings left in EL. I feel like the best downtowns have a healthy mix of old and new buildings.

    I still wouldn't object to this plan for those reasons, but in a perfect world, I'd have preferred this to be on the north side of Albert somewhere, or even north up Abbot a bit. It could've even given EL an excuse to build a new city hall, selling it to the public as the way to make way for a big private investment that includes a downtown Target.

    Of course I'm sure the developers wanted some frontage right across the university, and might've balked at any location that didn't include that. And I'm happy to see infill on the parking lot off of Abbot. You win some, you lose some.

  • I'd share this opinion if what was being lost was of any particular architectural value, but those are about as bland and generic as you get for historic buildings. Quite frankly, the only building I find interesting on that block, really, is the one at the corner and that one is being saved.

    Preservation is also harder given how downtown East Lansing was envisioned and built. Basically, it's two blocks north-to-south, so you can only expand east-west, and you can only stretch so far before it ceases to be a downtown district. Had they built more densely/taller from the start, you'd likely see a lot more preservation. The problem, too, was how from the very beginning East Lansing officials tried to keep a "village/town" feel, so instead of it building up organically and gradually, we've finally come to the point that the pressure has to come out somewhere so things are going to get changed all at once.

  • edited April 2017

    It's not the end of the world, to be sure. However, the way I look at it is that Greater Lansing only has so many historic urban commercial buildings, even if some of those buildings were quite standard in design.

    Meanwhile, think about how many old houses and parking lots are in this region. There are more of those than you can shake a stick at it.

    So what would we rather lose? That's how I look at it. To go back to one of the founding "mothers" of the modern urban movement, Jane Jacobs... a city's commercial and industrial building stock should represent a rich mix of eras. Simply because each era provided different aesthetics and types of workspaces, and you want to provide the next generation of business owners with all of those options if possible. It breeds diversity. As we know from experience, new buildings tend to attract chains and more formulaic business models that have higher odds of sustainable returns.

    Also, I don't see why downtown EL can't continue to expand north of Grand River. Nothing is locking it into a two block north-south area besides a lack of will or interest.

  • The pushback to even developing around Valley Court Park has been pretty vicious over the years. The fight to go north would be absolutely epic if they ever wanted to do that; it'd would at minimum probably require a totally redo of the city's vision for development (it's masterplan).

  • I do like this project at least on paper. I am not a big fan of knocking down old buildings, but E.L. really does not feel like a cozy historical district downtown. There are already "tall" buildings and parking ramps along Albert giving the street a dark and cold feeling as soon as the sun passes to the west, so I am not really sure what it is they are trying to preserve. It is not very nice on the Grand River Ave. side either with all the traffic roaring by, so yes do something else and make it first class.

  • edited April 2017
    With Valley Court Park, I do see why residents want to keep the basketball court and volleyball courts (I believe those are there). And they'd complain if you put taller buildings closer the residential area, so it's all got to go on Grand River and Albert.

    But I think if you really want to make EL an urban destination you've got to expand north. Nobody likes the downtown getting confined to an extremely long east-west strip. It increases the demand for close parking to unreasonable levels for an urban area.
  • What happens to Target if they kill this? Does Target seemingly onboard push the needle at all?

  • Having Target onboard makes the project seem much more realistic, and it gives people something tangential to hold on to. Without the project, I don't see Target adding another location in the area.

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