General Lansing Development



  • This hasn't been getting much press, but could have an interesting (and positively so) effect on urban planning/zoning in the area. The council for months has been reviewing the overnight ban on parking on city streets. One side of this is that their are those in the residential neighbrohoods who are saying that the ban is not being enforced. For some of these folks, they want to see increased enforcement. Other folks say that since the city isn't going to enforce it that they might as well just removed the ban, and then allow neighborhoods to regulate how overnight parking on streets would be handled.

    A related part of this is a proposal by Councilman Spadafore that seeks to change the overabundance of poor land use devoted to parking in downtown Lansing. He wants to allow more street parking in downtown Lansing; the proposal would sell permits for street parking for downtown residents to have a parking space at night on certain streets where it'd make sense. The positive huge effect would be that developers wouldn't have to build such huge amounts of on-site parking to handle new development. One of the projects the City Pulse has brought up is the proposal for the old Lake Trust Credit Union site down on Washington on the south side of downtown. The developer doesn't want to build a whole lot of parking, and allowing street parking where it currently isn't in the area would count towards some of the parking requirements.

    Overnight parking bans have always ostensibly been put into place to make it easier for street cleaning and emergency vehicles during the night. Really, it's been about appeasing home-owners in single family neighborhoods who treat any kind of property even remotely close to their own as "there's" and who don't like to see even neighbor's vehicles in front of their houses. Personally, I want to see the city strike back against this, and the throwing out or reworking of the ban into a regulated practice would be a great way to do this. More than that, the amount of parking the the poor use of it in downtown has been an embarrassment for the city for a long time, and this would hugely solve the problem downtown.

    In the neighborhoods, I like how some other areas do it, where certain sides of the street have it at certain days of the week. I'd not be against getting rid of it entirely, though. The abolition of the ban would also make our residential neighborhoods more urban, as it would most likely cut down on on-site parking requirements in backyards/garages in backyards, and thus fewer curb cuts along streets. It'd also encourage more attached single-family and more of a residential lot could be used for others things beyond required parking.

    Oh, and example of one street on the eastside that has piloted this:

    Andy Kilpatrick, director of the city’s Public Services Department, said officials in 2005 eliminated the overnight ban on Horton Street at the request of neighborhood residents. And it’s been so successful that they’ve allowed it to continue. Just two blocks running north from East Michigan Avenue till it dead ends, Horton is the only street in the city where its residents needn’t worry about tickets.

  • Here on S.Washington, there is overnight parking allowed[I don't know if it is offical] on the 900 blocks. The street is very wide here so it causes no problems. I think that overnight parking could work on many streets. A resident only parking system in some neighborhoods like say the East Side where the streets are narrow and outsiders may leave their vehicles.
    In Boston where parking spaces are worth fighting for I mean really fighting! A private parking space can cost thousands. There they have different resident parking only stickers for each neighborhood. In Montreal, they have a system of signs that alerts you with flashing lights for street cleaning days and when snow removal days are in effect for that street. Other towns have "snow emergency routes" where no street parking is allowed during snow events. We could do some things like these as I could see a few problems on some streets with trash pick up snow removal and people just parking the old grinder and leaving it there forever. I think it would be a good idea to ban RV's from street parking. I would not want to see a giant motorhome parked outside my window.

  • edited September 2018

    Well that was quick. Looks like there is a public hearing, Monday, for discussion of a amending the cord of ordinances to add a new section entitled "Residential Permit for Street Parking." This would just set up the apparatus to provide for the creation of residential street parking zones (by a "Traffice Control Order" from the Department of Public Service and as approved by the Public Service Board), and for the setting of hours for said zones, and the application, permitting and payment rates for these zones (Parking Services Office in the Department Economic Development & Planning).

    What I'm hopeful about reading through other committee agendas on this - I've been missing this new ordinance in particular as I don't usually read the agendas for the Committee on Public Service - is that at least the more development-skeptic councillers voted to approve this one in committee. Reading the meeting minutes over the past few months concerning this ordinance, there doesn't appear to be any opposition to this proposal within council, which is often a problem. It does seem like they worked very well together crafting this ordinance and taking in suggestions from the public.

    BTW, this was Councilman Spadafore's proposal, apparently, and he formally introduced it at the August 27th council meeting. So it would seem I was confused, as there aren't currently two competiting and/or seperate but related proposals. I think the City Pulse article was a little confusing. It also appears the name "Residential Permit for Street Parking" is probably a bit confusing, as these street parking zones could be created on anywhere where you'd have residents with cars to park, whether that be in a single-family dominated neighborhood, or along a downtown street.

    I guess the councilman was just bringing up the 600 block of South Washington as an example of where one of these residential parking zones could be created, and that it seems to have been more progressive and urban-minded developers who gave him the idea to craft such an ordinance, That's actually really heartening to hear that it was developers coming to council begging them to create more progressive policy that would cut down on large on-site/lot parking facilities. The next big progressive step I'd like to see is for the city to implement parking maximum requirements (something in the proposed FBC) and lower parking minimums. Not everyone is going to want to live carless, but the scale needs to be balanced so that urban developers can cater to those who do.

  • edited September 2018

    Notice this this evening. An old garage at 615 East Kalamazoo next door to the Valvoline at Larch and Kalamazoo had a temporary sign on it that reads "Lansing Eastside Gateway." So, went to the city site to look if any permits had been pulled. Didn't see any, yet, but apparently the building sold last month. So then I did a random search on the name and it turned up a LinkedIn profile with the name of the property new owner (who appears to live a block away), with a short description saying that it will be a business incubator space, one in which a company can lease something as simple as a shelf for storage of products.

    The building is tiny for a commercial building, only a bit over 2,200 square feet. But this is exactly the thing this little rough stretch of Kalamazoo and the adjoining side streets needs. I was just happy to see it wasn't some low-rent retail business, quite honestly. Eventually, though, this entire area in between the tracks and Larch will need to be redone as the land use along this block or two is just lousy with poorly sited buildings on their lots and empty lots and underused parking lots.

  • That is interesting news. This area may be moving in a good direction, Art's Pub has been a great success, the food is really good there and they are always busy. There is a great skyline view from their dining room. I could see this part of the town becoming popular.

  • It's my friend Yvonne's building now. It will house her company "Go Green Trikes" as well as the small business embryo. She's quite the community builder.

  • I've been a sometimes-customer of the meat market across the street for years. My family used to get their medication from Curtis Drugs that used to stand on the corner, there. The last things to be brought down were the cool alley-way houses that basically jutted into Sunset's parking lot, and then the gas station across the street and the old refrigreated factory that burned down.

    I've been so sad to see this area clear out, but there are definitely sprouts of success (Arts, the clothier up on the hill, the bike lanes, etc.) so I was super happy when I saw this new business in the neighborhood. Honestly, I see that whole neighborhood bound by Michigan to the north, K'zoo to the south, Larch to the west and Penn to east turning back into a livable near-downtown neighborhood. The new Meijer will be a big part of giving the neighbors in the area - many who don't own cars - an accessible full-service grocer.

    I've always thought Holmes Street and Hill Street were such cool little corridors; I like the small lots which make it very human-scaled. The whole area sits on the side of a hill with awesome views of downtown. I'm a little mixed on whether the area south of K'zoo, here, can really see the same kind of success being hemmed in by the freeway on one side and the railroad tracks on the other. It gives it a super isolated feel and kind of prevents it from attracting any business deeper into the neighborhood. There was a well-maintained garage down at the end of Beech, but I think that was (is?) the only business down that way.

  • Is the container apartment court inside the warehouse on Hazel and Hosmer still happening? That would bring some people to the south.

  • edited September 2018

    Funny you should ask about that one. The agenda for the Committing on Development and Planning will be setting a public hearing for brownfield plant for The Wing at their meeting on Monday. Looks like the last time I posted about this was back in February where they were considering the Special Land Use permit for this one, which they needed since they are proposing housing (in addition to other uses) in an industrial district. The freeway is still a huge barrier between the location I was talking about and The Wing, and I was more talking about the difficulty of tying the residents of places like Beech Street to the areas along Kalamazoo and even further north.

    Back on The Wing, we do find out some things from the brownfield plan included in the packet. A nearly 22,000 sq ft of ground area stretch along the east frontage on Hosmer will contain 3 stories of residences and a restaurant. This is "Zone 1." The big thing is that only a small part (around 20,500 square feet of ground area, which is the "hanger" section of the building) of the north end will contain the container housing. This is "Zone 2" in the plans. Over 50,000 sq ft of ground area in the center and south end of the building are (and will continued to be used as) used as light industrial space, with future plans to demolish the central portion for a parking garage in 2020. In the deep heart of the building with be a 7,500 sq ft "maker space." This is "Zone 3" and "Zone 4". At the far south-end of the building along Hazel will be ground floor commercial space with residential space above. This is "Zone 5."

    The biggest thing we find out for the future plans, however, is that they eventually plan a 16 to 20 floor residential tower to be constructed above the future garage they plan to build. This is "Zone 6" and will be building above "Zone 3." Proposed start date for this one is 2022. It's also a really thin tower, too, with only a 6,400 sq ft footprint.

    Zones 1, 3, 4 & 5 are shown to have already begun, though I have no way of knowing that. Zone 2 (the container housing in the hangar) is scheduled for a summer 2019 start. Zone 6 (the tower), again, is scheduled for January 2022 start.

    This all seems super ambitious, but if only they get part of it done it will have been a success, quite frankly. The current brownfield plan is just for phase 1, which will include 60 units of housing in Zones 1 and 5, and the commercial, industrial and maker-space renovation in Zones 3, 4 & 5. Actual heavy construction apart from the prep work having taken place is scheduled to begin in October. Phase 1 is scheduled to end in January 2020.

    The developer hopes to have approvals in hand by the end of October for the brownfield. The brownfield is all that is left for approval, I believe, since the SLU was granted for this one months ago.

  • edited September 2018

    Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) had an interesting item on their Thursday agenda. It was by the Allen Neighborhood Center over in the lower eastside on Kalamazoo between Allen and Shephard. They are seeking some variances to add about 40 units of housing (33,400 square feet) to their property, along with 4,175 square feet of additional commercial space, bring the total number of commercial space in the complex to around 19,000 square feet. The height of the existing property will be kept at 29.5 feet, so it won't loom over the area.

    Since it's zoned F-Commercial, they'd need 56,800 square feet of lot area, but only have a bit over 49,000 sq ft. They'd also need a minimum of 160 parking spots, when they'll only be able to fit in 80. Finally, they'd need a 20-foot setback in this district on all frontages (Allen, Shephard, and Kalamazoo), while their proposals seek setbacks of only 8, 9.25, and 0 feet, respectively. The zoning administrator recommends the BZA grant these variances.

    Honestly, reading through these over the months it's becoming clear to me just how much the current zoning codes discourages urban development, by-right, in most of the city. Kalamazoo and Allen was clearly built as an urban node, but in order to match the development patterns in this old neighborhood, you have to seek multiple variances. This seems crazy to me and why the Form-Based Code really needs to be passed.

    And, it's not just commercial, but housing. Building anything to meet the blockfaces on these residential side streets, and you'd need a variance. The vast majority of commercial and zoning districts in the city require a 20-foot setback from the property line. Can you imagine? There is nothing anywhere in the older parts of the city where you're going to find such inefficient use of land as 20-foot setbacks.


    Anyway, this is precisely the kind of redevelopment you want to see in the neighborhoods. All of the programming at the current complx (called the Kircher Complex) will be retained, so this is an addition to the center instead of a replacement project. They will build two-story additions along both Allen and Shepard streets that will go back to the back building line of the existing complex.

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