East Lansing: A Thriving Community
Downtown East Lansing is in the heart of it all, with significant infrastructure improvements, investment and new growth taking place over the past two years. Downtown’s transformation has included the opening of the Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum, the opening of Jackson National’s The Zone, construction of two new mixed-use buildings along Albert Avenue, a new way-finding plan, reconstruction of Ann Street Plaza and reconstruction along Michigan, Grand River and Albert avenues.
The downtown welcomed 26 new businesses over the past two years and between 2011 and 2012 there was a 426 percent increase in the value of construction. The two new mixed-use buildings added 73 new rental units and two exciting new restaurants, HopCat East Lansing and Peppino’s Pizzeria, to the downtown. The opening of JNL’s The Zone was noteworthy in that the company invested more than $10 million to repurpose an important 33,000-square-foot anchor location and added approximately 200 knowledge-based jobs. The Broad Museum has also had a considerable impact on the downtown, attracting more than 115,000 visitors from across the globe in its first year.
In our Northern Tier, we recently participated in the ribbon cutting for The Willows — East Lansing’s newest senior living facility. This new 81,000-square-foot facility features 127 beds, including assisted living, transitional care and a memory care component. The former Blue Cross, Blue Shield site was also recently redeveloped, now featuring a PNC bank, a Compass Cancer Center and a third business to be determined. To the south, two new four-story, mixed-use redevelopment projects are also almost complete at 514 Michigan Ave. and 504 Michigan Ave.
In our neighborhoods, the Avondale Square project has made progress over the past two years, with 14 new homes built to date. The project has surpassed its halfway point, which at completion will include 26 homes — 10 featuring income-qualified buyer incentives.
Additional growth is also on the horizon in East Lansing, with construction slated to begin on the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) this year and continued design development for the proposed Park District project. The Park District will significantly enhance downtown East Lansing’s western end and, although the timeline is preliminary, the development agreement is expected to be finalized by the end of August 2014, with a tentative ground breaking in early 2015.
As the City looks to the future, engaging residents in planning processes will continue to be important. One way the community can guide future development is by participating in East Lansing’s ongoing, 18-month Comprehensive Plan update. Exciting things are happening in East Lansing and we invite you to come be a part of it!