Renovations to former City Center II site and ban on hookah lounges to be discussed

At Tuesday’s regular work session, the East Lansing City Council debated solutions to parking problems related to renovations to the property formerly known as Evergreen Arms and a proposed ordinance that would ban more hookah lounges from establishing in East Lansing.

The abandoned buildings at 341 and 345 Evergreen Ave. are owned by City Center Two Project, LLC, which is the same group that owns the property on 124-140 W. Grand River Ave, formerly the project site for City Center II.

First talk of the renovation project began when the applicants approached city staff several months ago about bringing these properties back into use.

The planning commission previously discussed the project at its Jan. 9 meeting, where members voted unanimously against recommending council to go forward with the renovations.

Community Development Analyst Tim Schmitt said there are issues with the parking lot coverage and the building location, but said those can’t be addressed short of demolishing one of the buildings.

Two parking ordinances under consideration by council might help solve the parking problem, Schmitt said.

“Ultimately, it’s just a draft,” he said, adding that without the ordinance it’s unclear whether there will be enough parking for the proposed renovations. “We’ve indicated that to (the applicants). We’re just now beginning the committee process. Running on a hypothetical set of numbers, it gets it extremely close.”

Parking issues have been a problem with several projects proposed by City Center Two Project, LLC, including the site formerly proposed for City Center II.

Council scheduled a vote to approve the renovations at the next regular city council meeting on Feb. 5.

Also briefly discussed by council was a proposed ordinance that would more ban hookah lounges from coming to East Lansing.

The ordinance was discussed at the Jan. 8 work session and is scheduled for a public hearing on Feb.5.

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