So, we get an update how the city feels about this project via the East Lansing council newsletter for the May 14th discussion-only meeting:
Most notably, the deadline for the development agreement is moved to May25th, but here's the kicker: It has three 30-day extensions if they can't get it completed by then. lol They are going to force Royal/Vlahakis on us. lol We also get an idea of how the developers are viewing this. They consider this one of two phases (Park Place West) with the land they own the second phase (Park Place East).
It appears that Beier, Draheim and Stephens (3 or 5) are concerned about 140 feet being too tall for this location. Since the 140-foot limit isn't by-right, the council could have control over the height they allow here. On the plus side, Mayor Meadows, Draheim and Stephens were pleased about the promise that 25% of the units would be reserved for moderate-to-low-income renters.
It's amazing that Royal/Vlahakis is getting such a deal on this already. Basically they already "own" the site, with the city making the mortgage payments. In any other type of private development, the buyer would have to purchase the land or make a non-refundable deposit for exclusive rights, then start making mortgage payments while they figure out what they're going to do. Otherwise it would still be on the market for another buyer to come forward.
This exclusivity is not free and the taxpayers of East Lansing are indirectly paying the bills for a private company.
Though different in that they didn't have active rental properties on them, something similar happened in Detroit where Bedrock/Dan Gilbert was given exclusive development rights for the Hudson site for and the rights kept getting extended for years. Fortunately, something finally happened. There's tower development in downtown Milwaukee that a developer has been squatting on for a few years now with development rights if I understand that situation correctly.
But this seems to happen pretty often where developers tie up a valuable site for years - basically squatting on it - so no one else gets it.
I actually see this case a little differently, as I think it was dumb for the city DDA to essentially become a landlord on those houses on this site in the first place. What they should have done was tear down the homes and market the site, and then they wouldn't be losing money. If anything, Vlahakis is bailing them out by eventually purchasing this land.
The rezoning of the properties is being reintroduced and refered again to the Planning Commission:
Note this time that the rezoning does not include the city's surface Lot #4 at the northwest corner of Abbot and Albert.
Guess I'd kind of missed this. The Downtown Development Authority met on the 25th of last month. Royal Vlahakis introduced some slightly more professional concepts:
The problem is that they are still just concepts, and the city needs actual certified site plans and such to do the actual review. So they are requesting yet another extension of the development agreement deadline. On top of that, Royal Vlahakis formed a new LLC - HSV ParkPlace LLC - so the DDA by its own rules had to consider amending the proposed sale and purchase agreement for the land to reflect this:
And back to the development agreement, here is the amended one they are now considering:
Looks like a big change is that they will be building a two-level, 108-space underground garage for the city (underneath Evergreen and Parking Lot #8), in addition to the two-level, 178-space underground garage for the development.
I was in EL yesterday for Dim Sum buffet at the Every Day Cafe and was noticing how nice the Hub and City Center buildings have turned out. It would be disappointing to approve building developments of less quality right next to these good looking buildings. I hope it is true that these are just concept computer renderings of what it could look like. Right now it reminds me of the Skyvue and not on a good way.
New site plan, elevations and renderings the Planning Commission reviewed, tonight.