The Park District redevelopment project is officially moving forward, after the developers received a crucial state tax credit last week.
Plans for the lots at the intersection of Grand River Avenue and Abbot Road have been in the works for about 20 years, but none have come together until now, East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows said.
“We bought that property ... to try and generate development over there,” Meadows said. “We had proposal after proposal. So we’ve been waiting that long to actually get something going there. We approved many projects, but they never got off the ground.”
Park District’s developers were approved for the Michigan Tax Credit and Brownfield Tax Increment Financing, which make the project “financially viable,” according to Community and Economic Development Administrator Tom Fehrenbach.
The Michigan Business Tax Credit is now defunct; however, the Park District project was grandfathered in, Fehrenbach said. Getting the credit was essential to keeping the developer attached to the project.
“It wouldn’t have happened without the state-level incentives,” Fehrenbach said. “The tax increment financing allowed them to finance the major infrastructure improvements that are part of the project.”
Plans for the space include a hotel building and a separate mixed-use complex with retail and apartment space. The site plan was approved by city council in August, leaving state approval as the last step before starting construction.
Site mobilization, or pre-construction, is scheduled for Dec. 9, though Meadows joked he wanted it to begin sooner. Construction is expected to begin by late December.
Fehrenbach said the next step in the process is building permit approval. A clearer timeline will be released in the next month.
Park District construction will mean the realignment of Albert Avenue, with streetscape and other infrastructure improvements, according to a press release.
Mayor Pro Tem Erik Altmann outlined how the new development will financially help the city.
“We’re going to earn revenue from the income tax, which will apply to everybody who helps build the building and works there afterwards,” Altmann said. “There will be direct benefits to the city’s general fund from that, and there will also be lots of indirect benefits from having the hotel there.”
The site was formerly occupied by a vacant building that was demolished last year.
“The buildings are starting to take shape,” Fehrenbach said. “(Center City) is near the topping-off, which is planned for the end of the year. We’re starting to really see the shape of the buildings and how they’re really transforming the streetscape downtown.”