East Lansing residents get first look at Park District plans
About 50 community members and city government officials gathered at the East Lansing Marriott at University Place Monday evening to learn about the Park District project in the first of three scheduled meetings.
DTN Management Co. put on the community meeting as part of a proposed $105 million project that would provide a mixed-use development with dining, retail, hotel and residential options.
The project ties in areas related to the former site of the failed City Center II project.
DTN began the meeting by describing their goals for the project and other aspects of its design, including different uses for the space, parking and examples of buildings in other cities with concepts they would like to implement.
Community members brought up questions and suggestions during the meeting, and future meetings likely will delve further into community suggestions and concerns, officials said.
Colin Cronin, vice president of DTN, said community engagement is the overall goal of the charrette process.
“We’ve got our plans, but I want to find out what everyone else’s plans are and see if they can’t think of something more creative,” he said.
City Manager George Lahanas said he was pleased with community turnout.
“You have to get people out there and hear their opinions,” he said. “I think the process has been designed in an excellent manner.”
Dublin Square owner Paul Vlahakis said he hopes the project will help East Lansing catch up with other university towns across the country.
Dublin Square is a bar and restaurant in close proximity to the proposed Park District property.
“I think what (East Lansing) lacks is a density down here,” he said. “You need critical mass to succeed.”
Vlahakis said the community voice is being heard better as a result of the charrette.
“You didn’t get a lot of these in the past,” he said. “There certainly wasn’t a charrette process for the City Center II project. When stuff like that isn’t brought forward, you get a lot of push-back.”
Cronin said that the most important thing DTN can take away from the process is maintaining the balance between what community members want and what is financially feasible.
The other two community meetings will take place Oct. 16 at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum and Nov. 14 at the Marriott at University Place.