Center City District project eyes summer 2019 completion
For several months, construction sites have been visible along Grand River Avenue and throughout MSU's campus.
One of the biggest projects in development this summer is the Center City District project, a redevelopment project that will be located along Grand River Avenue and Albert Avenue. If things go according to plan, the area will include a Target, a five-story parking structure, residential apartments and retail business space once completed.
Mark Meadows, the mayor of East Lansing, gave an update this week on the project and said it's moving along according to plan.
“The north side of Albert street is the first side to be redone, and I think they’re working on that right now, actually," Meadows said. "So I would say that it is proceeding about as quickly as we hoped it would, and maybe even faster than we hoped it would and with little or no, you know, problem with regard to the project."
Meadows said that while the project is making good progress, building the structures will need to happen rapidly.
“I think the second deck might be on or the third deck might be on the parking structure," Meadows said. "You know that’s the first thing I think that is to be completed because nothing else can operate without the parking, you know, directly behind it.”
Meadows said that other aspects of the project are moving along according to plan, as well.
“In March of next year, Target takes over the site and starts to build out the interior of their portion of it, so they should easily be ready for that,” Meadows said.
The project could have a major positive impact on businesses located around the district once it’s completed, but there is a potential for some to suffer in the short term due to the long-lasting construction.
“I think there is an impact on downtown businesses, and I think most business people will say, you know, their business might be a little down because of the project being here, but summer is always a tough one anyway as soon as the students leave,” Meadows said.
Meadows said that although that project may inconvenience some businesses for a short period, many believe that the new project will offer better opportunities for prospective businesses once completed.
“We’re going to successfully build density and introduce more diverse populations downtown which is going to make it a great place to do any kind of business,” council member Ruth Beier said. “We’re going to have 400 new units on Grand River, that’s a lot of people living in the same place and they’re going to want services, they’re going to want things to do, they’re going to want things to buy, they’re going to need groceries. I think it’s a great opportunity for people looking to open a business.”
One of the key components of the project will be five stories of senior living space on the Albert side of the complex. The project will include 92 units available exclusively to citizens age 55 and older.
“I think diversifying our housing options especially for folks 55 and over, and (folks that are) young professionals and folks that are not just students is critically important to the quality of the place, ultimately,” said Tom Fehrenbach, the community and economic development administrator for the city.
According to Fehrenbach, the city hopes for the project to be completed “by late summer of 2019."