Wow, I'm surprised there wasn't a thread started on this earlier. There was an article in the State News yesterday stating that the Virginia Ave project is going to cost an extra $300,000.
Here is the article:
Virginia Avenue project cost rises
By KRIS TURNER
The State News
The city of East Lansing will shell out an additional $300,000 to fund the Virginia Avenue project.
Originally projected to cost about $3.3 million, the project calls for the demolition of all the homes along the avenue's 600 block. In their place, 39 homes and condominiums would be constructed.
Stephanie Gingerich, a community development analyst for the city, said the 23 homes along the block are worth more money than the planning department anticipated.
"We are fairly close," she said. "We are looking at a number of options right now. We will be bringing some possible options to the City Council pretty soon."
Homes on the avenue are being purchased by East Lansing in hopes that families — specifically those with children — will move into the area, which borders three schools.
The East Lansing City Council will consider acquiring two more properties along the avenue at its 7:30 p.m. meeting tonight at City Hall, 410 Abbott Road. The properties, located at 619 and 630 Virginia Ave., would be purchased for $110,000 and $170,000 respectively.
The city has acquired only one other home at 601 Virginia Ave. That property was purchased for $107,000.
According to previous city appraisals, the average rental home on the block is expected to sell for about $180,000, and an owner-occupied home will sell for between $110,000 to $155,000.
About three-fourths of the homes on Virginia Avenue are rentals, and many MSU students live on the block.
Although Gingerich wants to see the project come to fruition, it is being met with some opposition.
"We've had a couple people that have not been very interested in talking to our consultants," she said.
Cathy Baird, an Okemos resident who owns a rental property at 607 Virginia Ave., said she isn't interested in selling her property and that city officials need to mind their own business.
"We don't feel it's right to tear out housing in perfectly good condition," she said. "We also don't feel it's right to kick the students out. It's like kicking the poor people out of their houses to bring in the rich."
The appraisals done on the homes were fair, but the city is going to have to be willing to negotiate with all of the property owners, said Matt Hagan, an agent at East Lansing-based Hagan Realty, which owns two homes on the avenue.
Even if some people don't sell their homes to the city, the planning staff will work the project around the few remaining residences, Gingerich said.
"We have committed to doing the project, and we would modify our plan," she said. "We then would be looking at how to do the best project we can with what we have to work with."