Thursday, February 27, 2020

City staff to not recommend accommodations for Hub 2.0, 3.0

July 15, 2019
<p>The Hub construction April 4, 2019.</p>

The Hub construction April 4, 2019.

Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

East Lansing City staff are not going to recommend changes to the city code to city council. The proposed revisions would permit two additional Bogue Street student housing towers on opposite sides of the Hub on Campus.

Core Spaces attorney David Pierson spoke to council members at the city’s June 18 meeting urging a fast-track approval of the development.

“The issue for Core Spaces, frankly at this point, is speed,” he said. “Time is running out.”

Pierson said both the contract and the financing for the project could expire before the city is able to consider an amendment for its code.

“What we’re asking you is to consider other means as the process moves,” Pierson said.

In April, Pierson spoke to the council introducing the project, and later wrote a memo detailing recommendations to alter East Village zoning laws. Pierson said his project is important for the development of the East Village.

City staff may have other ideas.

East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas said the July 16 meeting could provide city staff’s recommended changes to the East Village code; however, they will only include small changes.

“In some way that’s in response to what Pierson said but it’s not a point for point,” he said.

Lahanas said one fix recommended is eliminating the conflict between a limit on how many types of bedroom units a residence can have, and their allowance of fraternity or sorority houses that could never meet that threshold.

“Building height and changing the unit mix,” Lahanas said. “Staff is not going to be recommending that.”

Lahanas said the recommendations reflect correcting inconsistencies in the code, rather than large-scale changes to reflect the proposed project.

Council members could still act and change the code to permit approval of the two towers. The decision on how to proceed with a code revision ultimately rests in their hands.

Council member Aaron Stephens said he was open to changing the East Village code, but not just to cater to a development project.

“There are edits that have been needed to be made to the East Village code for a long time,” Stephens said.

Stephens said the city should treat revisions to the code as if there wasn’t a development project in front of them.

Stephens said he was open to changing unit mix if it would increase the affordability of student housing, one of Pierson’s selling points for the project.

“If we can do that through allowing more than two bedrooms in a place,” he said. “Those are definitely things that we should look at.”

Council member Ruth Beier said she leaned toward supporting the project when the city discussed a temporary development moratorium.

“Given that we do like the Hub 2 project because it’s going to generate so much revenue that we need,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to jeopardize that one.”  

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