Red Cedar Project Promises Economic and Community Rejuvenation
The unused Red Cedar Golf Course is the proposed future site of a $250 million, six-building development project. The plan will establish the largest mixed-use development tax base for a single project in Lansing’s history.
The project is at an ideal location with ready access to freeways, work and play. When completed, the local community and broader region can expect a new vibrancy and major economic impact. Bridging education, government, health care, community and industry the Red Cedar project will be a nexus on the corridor from the state Capitol to Michigan State University.
The project plan includes multi-generational housing, two hotels, and an assisted living and memory-care facility. Plans also call for restaurants, retail space, an amphitheater and a public park.
The Red Cedar project is anchored by three powerful concepts: broad-based, cooperative support; and the cleanup and reemergence of an environmentally contaminated site.
Lansing City Council
The main stakeholders view this project as an important priority for Lansing, East Lansing and the surrounding region. Led by Lansing Mayor Andy Schor, the unanimous support of the Lansing Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (LBRA) and the support of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, there is broader regional backing.
The Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) believes the project will be attractive to current businesses as well as businesses seeking to relocate to a region that promises affordability, livability and jobs.
Moreover, in multiple community outreach sessions, there was a call for dense, urban, and efficient space with multi-generational housing and accessible amenities including food and retail options.
Private funding, public benefit
Development projects can be complex; however, the funding source is straight forward. There will be bonds issued by the LBRA, a body that promotes the revitalization of environmentally distressed areas.
According to Christopher Stralkowski, senior project manager at Ferguson Development LLC, “The city of Lansing will not have any role or responsibility regarding these bonds. The LBRA bonds will raise approximately $43 million to be used to reimburse the developer for significant brownfield remediation and infrastructure costs.”
The bond repayment will be made with the new property taxes paid by the developer. Neither the city nor LBRA will have any responsibility to financially back the bonds.
The developer and bondholders assume all the risks and will be held accountable in the event of any revenue shortfall.
Perhaps most important of all, the project will generate new tax revenue for public use and promote the region via revenue raised through a hotel tax.
The site is hampered by environmental contamination. Currently unused, the Red Cedar promises new greenspace that will draw the community to enjoy the Red Cedar River.
The developer must submit a detailed work plan to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) that outlines the existing environmental conditions and how they will be remediated. The plan must be approved by the MDEQ.
These environmental cleanup activities by the developer will be monitored and verified by the MDEQ.
In addition to cleaning up an unusable site, the Red Cedar project will highlight what the community strongly desires: views of the Red Cedar River, new greenspace, walking paths, tasteful landscaping and a new amphitheater.
Magnetism of the mid-sized city
A single project cannot rejuvenate a whole region. However, a catalyzing development like the Red Cedar project can have a powerful domino effect.
Developers are rising to the challenge of delivering attractive, urban residential options in a place previously known as an underutilized eyesore. Likewise, the city has made strategic investments and policy reforms to aid in this rejuvenation. Together, private and public actors are building the next generation of Lansing.
In addition to reinvigorating the surrounding community, new families, young professionals, and seniors will be drawn to a region with new housing options and ready access jobs, restaurants and services.
Most importantly, the Red Cedar project will activate the Michigan Avenue corridor and attract employers, increase jobs and boost economic activity in the process.