edited August 2022 in Lansing
The LSJ has a story, today, of how Gillespie is marketing the old Sears department store. It's being marketed as a retail/restaurant regional destination, which is a bit of a change from early concepts which included things like housing or a hotel. I think they should seek to add density, here, as was the original concept, and they could still very much have a food-court type concept for a big portion of the ground floor. But, just doing food or stores would be an underuse of such a large (14-acre) site, particularly given what's gone up across the street and literally next door.

Former Sears property near Frandor to be marketed as 'mixed-use entertainment destination'
LANSING - Two years after Sears closed its East Michigan Avenue store near the Frandor Shopping Center the property's owner has begun working with a commercial real estate agency to market the site to "hundreds of national retailers and restaurants," said Pat Gillespie, president of The Gillespie Group.

The Lansing-based developer wants to redevelop the nearly 200,000-square-foot building as ROECO, "a regional mixed-use entertainment destination," according to a news release.

CBRE is actively marketing the property, Gillespie said.



  • Gillespie is just chock full of poor ideas that are sure to hobble the city in the future, isn't he? I like how he's marketing his plan to turn an extremely outdated dump of a 60+ year old big box store into a strip mall as something new, original and exciting. The renderings even show a significantly enlarged parking lot facing Michigan Ave, right across from the new Red Cedar development no less. I bet he chases all the tax incentives as well. What in an epic disappointment this is, I really wish Gillespie would find somewhere else to invest. What a joke.

    @MichMatters Any idea is the form-based code allows for this without any further approval? Particularly the larger parking lot facing Michigan? Or would the remodel of an existing building potentially grandfather this less dense use in?
  • edited August 2022
    Looks like the concept cuts off the auto center portion and the southwest extension of the existing building to open the building up to the Michigan, whereas it currently has its back to Michigan.


    As for zoning, given the money they'd have to kick in, this would likely trigger significant changes to the site. So, it wouldn't get grandfathered in by-right. There's a dollar threshold for renovations that triggers change, but I'd have to look to see what it is; I think it's like if the cost of renovation/reconstruction of the structure(s) is greater than half the value of the existing structure (s), then you don't get grandfathered in. But don't quote me on that.

    Anyway, some things that would be required on the site, now, that aren't currently existing include:

    1. 0' to 10' max front setback
    2. Building elevation for at least 20 feet from the corner since it's a corner lot
    3. Parking would not be allowed in the front yard.

    How committed the city would be to making them adhere to this without approving tons of variances, I'm not too confident about, to be honest. But I'd expect those who care to apply pressure to get them to stick to the code. The point of this particular zoning district is to develop something like what you see across the street, and this is not does not meet those standards, obviously.

    It'd have probably been nice for the author of the article to actually interview someone from the Planning Department in addition to the developer. lol Basically, all we are getting is a Gillespie ad and what they wish to do, and it would have been of public interest to let readers know the other half of this is what the city would require them to do by code.

  • Yeah, it's not great reporting, basically just a press release.

    Thanks for the zoning insights as always, it's somewhat comforting to know that it will at least have to go through an approval process. I kinda think (want to believe?) that the city may actually push back here, there's really no excuse for this sort of thing at this site given everything that's going on along Michigan and the proximity to MSU. I mean, even if he just builds some half decent 4-5 floor mixed use buildings along Michigan and sticks with his strip mall conversion of Sears I'll shut up.
  • Yeah, I'm actually fine with it so long as the Michigan Avenue frontage is used for a more substantial building. BTW, max height in this district by right is 5-stories and 60 feet (if you go by the street type for Michigan Avenue). Skyview actually had to get a variance to build as tall as they did, though it was a small variance since the by-right height in its former zoning district was taller than the current districts for that area.

    Was kind of surprised by the choice for zoning for the area, or rather the district's formation in the form-based code, at all. It's purpose is to kind of allow shopping centers with some level of surface parking, which I don't much mind. But it seems kind of weird to put a height restrictions on a district like this if you ask me. I kind of think for a commercial district right off a freeway, you should be able to build as tall as the market will demand. And, generally, that's where these districts are kind of located, off the freeway or along arterials/state highways.
  • I lost any respect for the form based code when they built that Taco Bell at MLK and Southland in an MX-2 zone.
  • I do not like the idea of a larger surface lot on Michigan Avenue. This could be a whole new urban neighborhood and he thinks a slightly up scale strip mall is the way to go. This guy should get out a go around the country and see that some projects are well designed interesting to look at and to live in. I hope someone just buys the place from him and tears it down.
  • I have heard the the owners of Frandor are removing the CATA bus stops on their property. The problems they sight are loitering, homeless folks using them for shelter, and aggressive pan-handlers. They note the the LPD does not remove these folks during the day there is no where to take them, the artical stated. I am against removing the shelters and forcing people to go out to Michigan Ave to catch the bus, this could be difficult for many. Maybe CATA could hire it's own security to police their bus shelters and downtown station more aggressively. A city the size of Lansing should be able the solve this sort of problem, have a day shelter, provide mental health services there. There are many things that we could do for homelessness and those with mental health issues. I thought that the street that passes through Frandor was a public street.
  • It was announced a day after that CATA and the owners of Frandor reaches an agreement and that for now, the bus stops and shelters will remain. The "street" in Frandor is private property, according to the news clip I saw.

    As far as shelters and mental health, it seems to me that Lansing, while not perfect, has a better grip on homelessness than cities like Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor. When I'm in the office in GR, it's overwhelming, and the homeless population is also far more vulgar and aggressive. I'm sure Lansing could do better, but I don't think we're the worst. Thats all just personal observation though. Most cities could do better appropriately handling this population of people.
  • No, it was announced they are taking out the shelters and the benches, but will retain the stops at the location, which isn't much of a compromise. We've had a really bad habit in this town of doing this with bus shelters, park benches & tables, etc.

    As someone who has used these stops, this is less about actual issues at the shelters and more that the owner simply doesn't like to look at homeless people.
  • Ah, my apologies. I missed that the shelters weren't going to remain. Seems like that would be a pretty miserable spot to wait out in the middle of a parking lot with no shade or shelter what so ever. Definitely sounds like a way to make it less appealing to a specific group...
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