General Lansing Development

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  • I am thinking as I may have said before, perhaps there could be a sort anti-blight ordinance that would require some sort of buffering of surface lots next to streets, landscaping decorative walls, no cyclone fences etc. if you want to have your lot on the street front, with easier requirements for surface lots behind buildings. Perhaps the building inspectors could monitor unused parking lots and have them removed or reduced if they are no longer used. We do this for derelict houses why not blacktop. It would be really good to have these 20th-century ordinances looked at again, I know that they were installed at a time when Lansing wanted to make it as easy as possible to use your Oldsmobile, now it is time to put people and our community above parking lots.

  • edited September 2018

    First posted about this one back on the 1st, but the administration has chosen which of the two offer for the Cooley Haze House - north REO Town between the new Central Substation and Cooley Gardens - that they want to go with. They chose the retail salvage shop proposal over the artist who wanted to renovate the house as her personal home.

    TUESDAY, SEPT. 18 — A retail store for salvaged building materials could move into one of the more iconic historical sites in downtown Lansing. The plan only needs approval from the City Council to become a reality.

    Mayor Andy Schor today crafted a long-sought recommendation to City Council: Sell the historic, city-owned Cooley Haze House on Malcolm X Street to a local real estate agent for $20,000. The Realtor, Joe Vitale, has proposed restoring the exterior and turning the interior into a salvage retail store for “architectural and building material salvage” with an educational area to boot.

    I wasn't really happy about either of the proposals, but it is what it is. The next step:

    Officials reviewed the proposals and ultimately decided to send Vitale’s idea on to the Mayor’s Office, said Parks Director Brett Kaschinske. Schor also agreed with the recommendation. Now the Council will need to review the dealfor final approval, Kaschinske explained. And they’ll meet next on Monday evening.

    Apparently, the buyer was a former president of Preservation Lansing, so I do not doubt he'll restore this, but the commercial usage wasn't my preferred reuse of this site, and it will require a rezoning, anyway.

    Cooley-Haze House

  • Seems like a not all bad thing but! This building is in a park next to a formal garden, where is going to store his "merchandise" in the rooms of the house? It is good to see the house will find some use and not torn down but this is quite a downfall in status for such a pretty old house.

  • edited September 2018

    Yeah, the salvage material will be stored on-site inside the home...which actually wouldn't be too different than what many of the rooms are currently being used for, quite frankly. The article is really interesting; the developer wants to do classes/workshops on historic home preservation inside the home, too, so it'll have an educational component, and he wants to get the home on the National Register of Historic Places. Like, I don't hate the plan; I just think if they'd have put more into marketing the property they probably could have landed a better use, something at least as publicly accessible as the last use of the building. But, the guy is the real deal so I'm not complaining too much.

    Not much for next Monday's council meeting, but here are some things that caught my eye:

    • After the partial and conditional rezoning that had dragged on for two years was finally resolved last November, it looks like the owner of the old EDS Building at 930 West Holmes has submitted its brownfield plan for the project, which will turn the building into a climate-controlled self-storage facility. We've been given plenty of details about this one by the developer over the years, but we have some hard numbers. First, there will be 873 storage units in the 102,206 square-foot building.

    But I'm not really interested in that; what caught my eye is that a ton of the parking lot will be torn up and grassed over to improve drainage in the area and to allow for a pocket park and lots of landscaping as well as improvements to the surrounding sidewalks, lighting on-site and in the public right-of-ways around the property, and other infrastructure. The parking lot was likely too big when it was built; with the changing of the use to something much less parking-intensive, I'm glad to see them removing a lot of the asphalt. The whole area around MLK and Holmes is why the neighborhood to the east floods so often during heavy rains, as the stormwater system is inundated with all of the run-off over-sized parking lots of the area. Honestly, as the area is redeveloped, what I'd like to see is storm-water basin at the back of one of these lots. Anyway, the brownfield doesn't look too bad; for the $4.2 million project, the reimbursment is only $825,262. Most of the reimbursement won't actually be environmental stuff since the site wasn't ever used industrially, but for all of the public improvements the developer will make on the property. The infrastructure improvements, in fact, are the largest part of the reimbusrment to the developer ($494,625). Oh, and as a reminder, the rezoning was only for the interior of the city; the frontages along Holmes and Washington will be retained for commercial usage.

    • As discussed above, a purchased agreement is being forwarded by the mayor to the council for Cooley Haze House at 213 West Malcom X between the new Central Substation and Cooley Gardens. The new owner will renovate the house and use it as a salvage retail store and preservation education facility. This new use will eventually require a rezoning once he fixes up the place. A restrictive covenant on the sale requires the exterior of the house not be changed. He is on an aggressive timeline, with city documents showing he wants to have the whole thing renovated and store ready for operation by August of next year.

    • The council is setting a public hearing for October 8th for the brownfield plan for "The Wing" (735 West Hazel). The plan at that meeting is that it will be referred back to the Committe on Development & Planning for the October 15th meeting, where they'd recommend the plan for approval, and refer it back to council for their October 22nd meeting, where it would be finally approved so they can get started on heavy construction.

    • A public hearing will be heard on the new parking lot lighting ordinance. Apparently, the existing city code only mentioned parking lot lighting in a sentence or two, so this would expand on that and create something by which the city can more thoroughly regulate lighting on parking lots. Some interesting things in the ordinance include 1. lighting has to be provided for parking lots larger than 5 spots 2. lighting must be provided even in off-street parking lots that don't currently have an associated business occupant (i.e. vacant businesses), and 3. most controversially I'd assume "luminous-tube and exposed-bulb fluorescent lighting" - I assumed this is to ban neon lighting - is prohibited on building exteriors. I already have in my mind who proposed this little nugget and why they did, but I'll keep that to myself.

    • And, to end, the new street parking ordinance is up for passage at Monday's meeting. This would set up the parameters for the creation of permitted street parking. And, after more research, I found that these spaces wouldn't count towards the required parking minimums for off-street parking, which is disappointing, but it's something that could be considered as a part of variance request, I think.

  • Thank for all this interesting info... Even though I can still not imagine why there is such a huge market for storage space it sounds like this will really improve the property. Is the smaller former garage building to the east of the main building included? They could tear that one down for sure. We were just talking [at least I was} about pulling up the blacktop, and sure enough, a developer is doing it! I think that there was never a day in the history of this lot or the Logan Center that the parking lots were full.

  • The property only includes the building and its parking lot. All other buildings on theat block fronting the streets are seperately-owned lots. Here's the parcel map from the city:

    930 West Holmes

    Man, you really get an idea of just how much asphalt there is in this area when you see it from the air. I hope the next focus on parking is more regulation of the aesthetic aspects of lots like you talked about above. In Detroit, they have a fairly detailed part of their code concerning design of parking lots that require interior landscaped islands per certain numbers of spaces, exterior buffering, etc.

    Lansing's code also requires buffering, but only in some cases (i.e. when a commercial use borders a residential use) and even in those cases there are no requirements for the interior of surface lots. I'm glad they are taking notice of lots at all with the lighting ordinance, but they need to address 1. aesthetics 2. imposing parking maximums, which is something East Lansing has, to control the size of lots.

  • That is a lot of blacktop, too bad about that other parcel, what was in those buildings anyway? I can not remember what was there something like a K-mart with an auto-service in the side building? In the way old days there was a trailer park in that area.

  • edited September 2018

    Which building(s) are you talking about? The one to the north of the EDS/Oldsmobile building on Southland west of the abandoned garage? I'm not old enough to remember what was there when they were originally built. I know now that the building on the southern side of Southland is a skating rink. These three buildings on Southland have seen there ups and down since I've known them, but they've generally housed local retail (landromat that's been there since the early 90's, etc).

    The trailer park north of that was torn down in the early-mid(?) 2000's to make way for some senior townhomes to replace the housing lost in Oliver Towers downtown after the fire in that building. The 30 units were completed in 2006. In fact, for the residents they named the complex Oliver Gardens. They are accessed off a private road on Southland and have a Southland address (700); they also have an outlet onto MLK, though I'm not sure that's an entrance and maybe used for maintenance?

  • I was talking about the building right next to the main building that for a while was home to the Lansing Party Bus it is a real eyesore. What was EDS? It will be so great to have that area in use and fixed up.

  • EDS, Electronic Data Systems. They occupied 930 West Holmes for years; it was a information technology (IT) company founded by Ross Perot that GM bought in the 80's and became independent again in 95' or 96'. My school took us on a field trip there sometimes in the 90's. If I recall they had some large screening room where they showed us some documentary on the ocean, and I think it was to spark kid's interested in the connection between IT and other fields.

    Okay, so you were talking about the old garage to the east of this building, 3232 South Washington. Because you mentioned "next to" 930 West Holmes I thought maybe you were talking about 905 Southland, which is right behind (and closer to) the building. I only remember 3232 South Washington as auto garage/tire shop, as I very rarely ever came down to this area from Washington. The city website has the building having been constructed in 1968 (same year as the 930 West Holmes), with a construction permit having been authorized for some repair work on the building last year. It's owned by some shell company out of Kalamazoo, the address of which is associated with a single-family home there. It seems the garage was owned by the owners of 930 West Holmes until 2013.

    Anyway, it looks like the owner was issued a permit to start renovation ("tear-out") of 930 West Holmes at the end of July. It looks like they also look to have applied for a full remodeling permit, but that appears to be pending, probably waiting approval of the brownfield.

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