Developer walks away from Center City District project
Update Oct. 26: The city is still working with the developer to attempt to move the project forward, East Lansing Director for Planning, Building and Development Tim Dempsey said in an email. The developer itself has not officially backed away from the project despite Bell's comments.
Developer Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors has walked away from the Center City District project, Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Beier confirmed Sunday evening.
The city and developer had been attempting to agree to a performance bond for the last few weeks, which is essentially an up-front deposit to restore the development site if a project falls through. However, for one reason or another Harbor Bay had difficulties securing the bond, Beier said, and the city would not budge on its requirement.
Harbor Bay CEO Mark Bell left Beier a voicemail saying the developer was at an impasse with the city and that he was walking away from the project, Beier said.
Harbor Bay could not be immediately reached for comment.
"I'm not surprised, because for about the last month he's been indicating that he might not be able to get this bond," Beier said.
"There's really no way to compromise, we either have the insurance policy or we don't."
The project was to consist of two buildings, one a 12-story on Grand River Avenue with a first floor urban Target store and 273 rental units. The other was to be constructed on "Lot 1," the parking lot across from HopCat on Albert Avenue. The second building was planned to consist of a four-floor parking garage, first floor retail space and senior housing above.
Several businesses were moved over the course of months to make room for the project. What happens to the now-vacant storefronts on Grand River Avenue will be determined by the Ballein family, who own SBS and the properties that were to be used in the project, Beier said.
"People are disappointed that we're not getting a development and I am too, but... this was the policy that we put together to protect us and it actually worked, so I see it more as proof that we know what we're doing than a failure," Beier said.
"We aren't going backwards with this project, we're actually just going back to where we were before. Lot 1 is now gonna be a parking lot, just like it was before. The vacant properties are not ideal and I would like to see those used up as soon as possible."