Empty apartments, new sushi restaurant discussed by city

A new sushi restaurant might be coming to town while an Evergreen Avenue apartment complex will remain abandoned for now if the East Lansing City Council follows the suggestions of the East Lansing Planning Commission.

The commission discussed the two proposals during their regular Wednesday meeting at City Hall, 410 Abbot Rd.

An application from former City Center II developers to further develop an apartment complex on 341 and 345 Evergreen Ave., failed to get the green light from the commission.

Some concerns expressed by the commission include issues with parking for the apartment buildings. Using the Grove Street parking ramp isn’t an option as there are no more parking permits available to purchase.

Planning commissioner Fred Bauries said what troubled him was the distance between the two buildings.

“The spacing of the two buildings, the standard is 30 (feet) and this is 15 (feet),” he said and continued that the close proximity of the two buildings might be considered a fire hazard.

Bauries suggested the 345 Evergreen building will be demolished, which would solve several of the problems with the site plan, including the fire hazard, parking issues and potential overcrowding.

The proposed project comes from the developers of City Center Two Project, LLC, who also are trying to develop 100 and 124-140 W. Grand River Ave.

The two Evergreen buildings, previously known as Evergreen Arms, have been abandoned since 2008. The apartments were planned to be a part of the City Center II. The plans for the center were struck down by council last year.

An application for a new restaurant, Maru Sushi and Grill, 1500 W. Lake Lansing Rd., also was discussed during the meeting.

Robert M. Song, an MSU alumnus who owns two other restaurants in Okemos and Grand Rapids, applied for a liquor license for the restaurant, which was approved by the commission by a 9-0 vote.

With the planning commission’s recommendation, the site plan and special use permit will be discussed by the East Lansing City Council.

Community Development Analyst Tim Schmitt said Maru Sushi and Grill met all their conditions for a restaurant and city staff had no major concerns.

Despite the restaurant’s higher prices — signature rolls are $14 or more — Song said he is not concerned about attracting MSU students to his restaurant.

“If you have the means to come, you will find you way,” he said.

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