Park District demolition delayed again due to unknown legal issue, mayor says
The Park District redevelopment project will not be included on the Michigan Strategic Fund’s Aug. 22 agenda because of a legal issue that needs resolving, East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows said Thursday afternoon.
The legal issue had been referred to the MEDC/MSF’s attorney for review and the review had not been completed, Meadows said. The project’s appearance before the board has been pushed back until the Sept. 26 meeting.
If approved in September for a $10 million Michigan Business Tax credit, the developers could begin demolition 10 days later in accordance with the development agreement between 100 Grand River LLC and the city.
Without the tax credit, the developers have said the project would not be feasible.
Meadows indicated he was unsure of what the legal issue could be and said he could not offer any information regarding it.
MEDC spokesman Otie McKinley did not confirm a legal issue as the reason for Park District’s absence on the agenda, but alluded to legal issues as a possibility for pulling or placing items on or off the agenda.
“Projects being added to or pulled from an MSF board meeting happen for a variety of reason [sic] ranging from delayed contracts upstream to legality interests that delay it going in front of the board,” McKinley wrote in an email. “I'm not in a position to provide any further details on why the project was delayed until a future board meeting date.”
This recent development marks a further delay in Park District’s demolition process and comes nearly a month and a half after a city staff error caused Park District’s July appearance before the MSF to be pushed back until August.
Earlier in July, the city was required to terminate a prior brownfield plan for the Park District site in order for the new project to appear before the MSF.
At the meeting, the former developer, Scott Chappelle, was represented by attorney Arthur H. Siegal, who laid out potential claims to the site and payments Chappelle might be entitled to for work done on the project.
Both claims were shot down by the city council and the city attorney. Siegal, however, said litigation in the future is possible.
Siegal on Thursday said he has not filed a lawsuit in regards to the project but said his client and others submitted comments to the MEDC regarding the Park District Developer, 100 Grand River LLC’s application for the transfer of the tax credit.
“They may be reviewing those comments to make sure they’ve got it right,” Siegal said in regards to the MSF's review of the application.
Meadows underscored an ever-widening frustration with the site, questioning what the sudden development of a legal issue was and expressing disappointment in yet another delay in demolition of the blighted area.
“If you look at the corner today, you’ll see a large number of workmen working on the demolition of that building,” Meadows said. “The demolition is going forward, it may be delayed some period of time, probably until October if we have to wait until September for this. But there’s no guarantee of that.”
Meadows said City Council would consider the demolition process in its next meeting to determine how to move forward with the project.