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DTN picked as developer for downtown Park District

August 7, 2013

DTN Management Co. is moving into downtown East Lansing, and no, it’s not just another student housing unit.

By a unanimous vote Tuesday night at City Hall, 410 Abbot Road, the East Lansing City Council selected DTN Management Co. over Lurvey White Ventures as the preferred developer for the Park District project.

DTN’s $100 million project includes a 400-space parking structure and a 10-story building with hotel and residential units. The residential unit would hold approximately 450 units, and an additional 400 parking spaces would be created on the ground level.

After months of deliberation, including citizen input, review committees and developer interviews, city council decided to move forward in the process to revitalize the west side of downtown.

“This is not the end of the process; it’s the end of the beginning of the process,” East Lansing Mayor Pro Tem Nathan Triplett said. “(DTN) has a strong financial foundation from which we can have conversations about what the final structure and development agreement would look like, to ensure that this is the project that we all have been working toward and hoping for, for a great many years.”

As a former MSU offensive lineman, DTN Vice President Colin Cronin worked hard to bring pride to the Spartan name. He is excited to bring that same attitude to transform the western side of downtown East Lansing.

“We’ve got a lot of properties in the area, but what you consider the ‘downtown core’ of East Lansing, we don’t actually own any land,” Cronin said. “It’ll be nice to have something down there.”

The Park District covers 2.82 acres of land, extending from Abbot Road to Valley Court, near The People’s Church, Dublin Square Irish Pub and Valley Court Park.

Cronin said DTN had an advantage over its competition because it has access to the private parcels of land adjacent to the city’s public land.

“We think it’s in the best interest to do a large-scale project and capture that front corner on Grand River (Avenue) and Abbot (Road) to try to create a ‘crown jewel connector’ between East Lansing and MSU,” Cronin said.

East Lansing Senior Project Manager Lori Mullins said the next step for DTN is to complete a pre-development agreement with the city, detailing the process of working with the community, area stakeholders and investors.

Cronin said his company aims to complete the agreement by the end of August.

After the pre-development agreement comes the formal agreement, which has a tentative time frame, but hopefully within the next nine months, he said.

Despite the Park District’s complex past, East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas is optimistic about the future of the project.

“This is a significant portion of one end of our downtown,” Lahanas said. “What we do here will be the way the city looks for the next 50-60 years and beyond. So (we) want to make sure it’s done right.”

Lansing resident Daniel Bollman said although DTN has a reputation in greater Lansing, the apartment giant lacks a track record of aesthetically pleasing landmarks.

“Though Lurvey White has been referred to as a young firm … they do have a better track record than DTN of imagining creative, attractive building solutions,” Bollman said.

Bollman said what is most important is the setting of the Park District. Located largely on suburban developments, the city needs an aesthetically pleasing solution that works financially for the builder, complements Valley Court Park and works for the community as a whole, he said.

Chemistry junior Hadley Orr said she is disappointed that Lurvey White’s year-round farmers’ market won’t be coming to East Lansing anytime soon.

“The farmers market would have given people a lot to do (in the downtown,)” Orr said.

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