It seems the biggest issue with the planning commission was the parking. I think it's weird a city like East Lansing which knows that students are a group are much less likely to drive would continue to demand so much parking. While the parking ratio planned is about 0.25 per bed in this development, which is lower than the 0.50 per bed parking ratio you can get in East Village, it's not like there isn't any auto parking. More than that, the developer actually went back and tweaked the design to take out all kinds of things the NIMBYs were originally complaining about, including balconies, and added even more bicycle parking to make up for the lack of auto parking.
Anyway, with the addition of Aaron Stephens to council, who ran on a more pro-development platform than either of this opponents, I'm not sure the developers are wrong to be more hopeful that this still makes it out of council before the end of the year. This is something I'd have never said of the previous council.
BTW, anyone know who won the mayoral vote last night? Please tell me the council didn't make Baier mayor. lol
I was disappointed that Rory Neuner was absent from the Planning Commission meeting that night. She seems pretty progressive and forward thinking about bike advocacy and I think she would have approved this because this development pushes students to bike more than drive. Her vote could have broken the tie.
I'm always surprised how not progressive the planning commission and city council are to development-related issues in East Lansing. The site is literally on a busy bus line and the developer went above-and-beyond to provide extra bicycle parking, which is something you don't hear a lot.
I also find the zoning of the inner-city interesting. You located this building a few blocks to the west, and there would be no required parking because it'd be in the city center zoning district. But for whatever reason, East Village still has parking requirements. Given how crazy traffic is on Grand River east of Bogue, and given how students-oriented the district is compared to the city center, you'd think East Village would also be a zoning district that that would - even more than the city center - discourage automobile ownership.
What's also interesting is that the East Village zoning was recently changed to make it easier to develop up to the 140 feet mark, which means it makes it easier to develop taller apartment buildings/more units in apartment buildings...but they didn't amend the parking requirements at the same time. So you're going to allow for taller buildings with more units...and then complain about the lack of parking per unit/bed. Insane.
Well, I think the main problem is that there is a very vocal and involved minority in EL that absolutely refuses to believe that things should change from the 1986 status quo. And not just the NIMBYs. I've had conversations with people who are still angry at the city council/downtown developers that so much retail has left the downtown area, and seem to have no clue that this is a long-term, market-driven, nation-wide trend. I've also heard from people at council meetings that cannot fathom how students would be able to get groceries without a car, and use that as a justification for not developing the downtown.
Mich - I'd be shocked to find out Beier is the mayor, as she barely seems to want her city council seat...
I am more dismayed by the lack of progressive policy. This is not limited to just East Lansing. I have had limited discussions with several council members and they suggest several mass transit or bicycle relate changes, which seem to sputter out at the start. More effort to change is necessary then it is to delay or build obstacles to change.
Well, there also is the history of Lansing, and Michigan, really, as being culturally car centered due to the regional economy.
I drove down Grand River Ave from the east for the first time since they tore down the buildings on the 100 block, and I found the open space so pleasant. I could see the whole church building next door, and it was like the campus had expanded across the street. I know and hope it's only temporary but it sure is nice to see those dark old buildings gone.
I think folks in E.L. think of themselves as "doing the right thing" people, not really, "not in my backyard" people, as they appear to be to most. Believing you are doing right is not always true if your action is based on something, an idea, an opinion that is dated or no longer true. The old saying goes they can't the forest for the trees, sometimes they need to take a different approach to these projects. Does every apartment need two parking spaces, issues like that need to be re-evaluated?
This one seems like kind of a wild card as to how much they get hassled by the EL City Council. I could see this project moving fairly quickly. I don't remember reading anything about them requesting incentives (are they?) and this doesn't involve public land or money so if they can get over the height and the parking there's no other obstacles I can think of. This is right in line with the vision for East Village, if they were logical at all it'd be hard to oppose this project. On the other hand the height and lack of parking make for easy targets, especially in East Lansing, it could go either way.
Oh, I'm sure they'll be asking for some kind of incentives. What it's not going to involve are complicated city infrastructure deals like Center City, or complicated state financing credits like the Planning District. I imagine they'll at least be requesting it go through the brownfield redevelopment process.
Anything of any size in or near downtown (and many outside the core) has been developed through that process. St. Anne Place, Trowbridge Village, West Village, all the Stonehouses, Costco, etc...Basically anything that wasn't built on virgin land gets tax increment financing since developers will do literally take advantage of any tool to bring down the cost of development.