From the Lansing City Pulse
Academy set to buy School for the Blind property
Written by GRETCHEN COCHRAN
Wednesday, 27 September 2006
Lender backed out 2 weeks ago, delaying contentious land deal
After more than a year of political maneuvering and months of inaction, the controversial School for the Blind land deal on Lansing’s north side is expected to be finalized this week.
The 35-acre former campus at West Willow and North Pine streets is set for purchase in a convoluted deal involving several state and city departments, the Lansing Housing Commission and the Mid-Michigan Leadership Academy, the charter school that has operated on the state-owned property for 10 years.
Mark Eitrem, superintendent for the charter school, said he expects to close the deal this week.
Initially, Eitrem wanted to purchase the entire site from the state for $960,000. Legislation introduced last October by state Rep. Michael Murphy, D-Lansing, would have allowed him to do just that.
Then-State Sen. Virg Bernero, meanwhile, wanted the site to be used for private development. At the end of last year, Bernero, who had just won the Lansing mayor’s race, was successful in stalling Murphy’s bill.
For most of the spring, Eitrem and Bernero haggled over control of the property. Bernero offered to sell Eitrem 3.5 acres for $1, but Eitrem refused that deal because it would have left him little room for the K-8 charter school, which has 183 students. Eitrem instead wanted at least 9.6 acres.
In April, the city and Eitrem struck a deal: The academy would buy 8.5 acres for $211,000, and the city would develop the remaining property, installing housing units and converting the main administration building into senior housing.
Murphy’s bill was amended to reflect the changes and passed both chambers of the Legislature. Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed the legislation on June 6, and the state administrative board approved the sale on Aug. 6.
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