General Lansing Development

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  • The renovation of the small industrial building near Kalamazoo and Hosmer has resumed and they are installing corrugated metal paneling on the street front facade. While understanding this is an industrial building the metal paneling is disappointing, it is a historic [at least by age] neighborhood and could be considered downtown. They should have done something a little nicer IMO. I still have not figured out what is going in there.
    I am surprised to hear that there is a proposal to make St. Casimir's into a homeless teen shelter. If it was done properly and peacefully I guess I could see this happening. There is already a dorm-like building next to the main building and a small classroom building on the other side. I was sad to see this church close, it's where the "Catholic Kids" in my neighborhood went to school, we would see them passing Barnes Ave School coming and going to school at different times than the public school. It is ironic that they spent about a year rebuilding the front stairs and it looked really nice and then turn around and close the church. I guess there are not enough Catholics to go around anymore. I have a hard time seeing the neighborhood agreeing to this, but it might be better than having the building just sit there vacant.
  • Thanks for posting the report, I am not good at it! Sorry, I do subscribe to the LSJ and I did not note that it was a subscriber-only article. It is interesting to read about what other cities are doing these days to keep their downtowns alive. An interesting point about downtown events was made in reference to Quebec City, it said that that February is golden for the city with the annual Winter Carnival. I have been once it was a blast also it was the coldest day I had seen in a long time at -15 f in the day time! However, the whole city was packed with people spending lots of money and having a great time. We might have to make snow and ice these days but I could see a Winter Carnival in downtown Lansing.
  • edited January 9
    Nevermind.
  • I'm still hoping for a simple renovation of City Hall, possibly moving the police into a separate facility. The performing arts center appearing to move closer to reality is great news, as is addressing the problems with the parking ramps/lots.

    All the ramps besides the Townsend ramp are near the end of their life and will need a replacement plan. There's also need for new ramps. The Stadium District is in immediate need of a decent sized ramp and Old Town of a small ramp. I believe a ramp somewhere in the Kalamazoo/Grand/Lenewee/Washington area would help encourage more dense housing and possibly new office construction in that area. While not an immediate need I also think there could be some small parking ramps on the city lots off Michigan Ave and maybe later on a small ramp in REO Town.

    The news that the Lansing Center may get some sort of attention is also good to hear, I'm surprised relocation is on the table, there's very few potential locations in or near downtown. The parking lot south of the State Library, 7-block area or the GM lots are the only places that it could easily fit. I'd be disappointed if they attempted to move it away from downtown. The Frandor area, specifically the Sears site, could be a realistic candidate though. Hopefully if they keep it at its current site they at least expand it to Cedar St and give it a proper facade on that side.
  • Thanks for posting this article. I am thinking that the Mayor must have some interested parties already to submit plans lined up. He does things more quietly than Virg... Virg liked to put a lot of things out there without any real plan to pull it off, like the casino, so I think a "first things first" approach to these projects is better. I think more $ help from DC and the State may be contemplated. I was surprised to see the Lansing Center included on the list. One big Civic Center could work, but I would rather see several smaller projects sited around different downtown locations. A large all-in-one complex might be like The Capitol Complex which is basically an office park that is empty of people when the offices close. Civic buildings sited at different locations within the downtown neighborhoods would put people working and visiting in those areas. Those people would be shopping and eating at nearby businesses. It would be a good plan to say there should be no more stand-alone parking ramps be built downtown, they must have some other purpose included in the plan. Build the stand-alone large parking ramps outside the central downtown with convenient ways to get downtown such as shuttles could work.
    I saw where one of the reporters who had never been here before posted a tweet saying he thinks we are pretty! so do I! Better days are just ahead!
  • There should be the removal of parking lots/ramps and replacement with housing. Downtown is oversaturated with parking.
  • --How is someone going to build on a small piece of land along Washington/Grand/Capitol or even Michigan Ave without off-site parking for residents and/or employees? Besides, I don't think there are a ton of empty parking spaces downtown during peak hours and virtually all the public ramps are very old and not well placed to benefit the areas where development is happening or likely to happen so I'd argue there is a need for more parking, particularly in the places I mentioned. Building ramps or surface lots outside of downtown and shuttling people in sure sounds great to people who live downtown (full disclosure: I live downtown), but why should the low density areas of the city have to see a massive garage rising above the landscape or seas of parking for people that aren't even benefitting their area? It's not something you can just force on someone else.

    If there's not public parking within walking distance then developers have to somehow fit a private parking on-site, which is unfeasible for many lots making them essentially undevelopable, especially at the densities I think we'd like to see. On-site underground parking should be encouraged but that won't be enough for most buildings. IMO private garages should be discouraged, they are likely to be used at a much lower rate than a public garage which ends up encouraging even more parking (like the Accident Fund garage, likely used at partial capacity even at peak times during working hours on weekdays and is off limits to anyone else, even outside those hours). Ground floor office/retail should be the norm in virtually all garages as should good design and materials, if a developer wants to partner up to build apartment or office space along the edges then great, but that won't always be realistic or necessary.

    The reality of an area of the density and size of Lansing is that people drive cars because they are the most practical way to get around, not providing parking won't make people use mass transit or shuttles, it will cause that area and its businesses to fail or move or not come there to begin with. New ramps would allow residential and office buildings to be built without having to finance their own parking, they can simply lease spaces from city ramps. In my mind surface parking is the enemy, not necessarily garages.


    --On the point of an all in one convention/performing arts center, I'm very against that idea. Very, very against. As @gbinlansing pointed out, it would likely create a Capitol Complex-esque situation. The convention center can absolutely be placed away from things a bit since it's sprawling and can create a big dead spot in a commercial district. I'm a pretty big proponent of seeing the performing arts center go on Washington Sq or Grand Ave though, I personally strongly prefer to see it on Washington between Kalamazoo and 496 with the old Boarshead site on Grand being a distant second choice.
  • edited January 26
    Looks like there are two development-related ordinances up for passage next week. You've got - and this one happened quickly - the rezoning for 500 N Cedar (Chief Cart lot north or Roma) up, and the expansion of the West Saginaw Street overlay district to allow for furture of mixed use development on the parking lots of the superblock that houses the old St. Lawrence campus.

    Also on the agenda was the the restructing/consolidation of council's committees to streamline the work. It appears that the number of committees have been reduced from 8 to 6 by consolidating "General Services", "Intergovernmental Relations", and "Public Services" into a broad "City Operations" committee. This completely makes sense. The rules were also changed to specify that two members of ANY committee constitutes a quorum, and that other than the Committee of the Whole, which includes all members of council, that each standing committee should have no less than three but no more than four members. The change about the quorum on the committee - which used to be a majority of those serving - I think has to do on with a majority of members on Development & Planning (4 members) and Committee of the Whole (8 members) often not being present, and thus no business could be done at those meetings.
  • edited January 29
    The February 2 agenda for the Development & Planning Committee is out and as with all agendas it includes the minutes of the previous meeting. In this case, that was December 15, and it looks like they did in fact take up the Form-Based Code and unanimously discharge it from the committee to the full council. So, we're like one step away. According to the minutes, they specifically set the January 25 meeting of council for final consideration. But I found out that the work to rework the council committees pushed it off that date. It's now to be considered for approval sometime next month. There are two council meetings next month, February 8 & 22.

    Anyway, what is making it through committee on the 2nd includes the introduction and setting of public hearing for the special land use for the teen homeless shelter at the former St. Casmirs, and setting the public hearing for the rezoning of the two duplexes on the northside of Jolly just east of Waverly for higher-density housing (from 4 to 8 units). Some of the rezonings they are considering to send to the full council are the rezoing for part of the Eastern High School campus to allow for future expansion for Sparrow, and the rezoning a commercially zoned vacant lot at the corner of East Miller at Orchard Court for the small apartment building (up to 10 units).

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    The land looks like it is part of North Cemetery because it's not fenced off from it, but it's actually a commercially zoned lot. It's a bit over half-an-acre, and the planning department seems to be skeptical that they can fit 10 units on it without carving off a bit of adjacent land in the cemetery (which would require a city vote), but the planning board and planning committee have continued to move it forward. Apparently, a single family home sat on the site not that many years ago, and the lot is currently owned by the county land bank.
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