Destination: East Lansing

Developments keep city on the rise

 

Michigan State University sophomore Karina Jones thinks the city where she goes to school finally feels like a college town.

“I love the new look, like the height of East Lansing and downtown East Lansing,” she said, “I think that it changes it and kind of modernizes it.”

Jones is talking about several new developments taking place in the city.

One is the Center City District. This approximately $132 million project offers 364 residential rental units spread across two buildings and space for retail and multi-level parking, according to East Lansing Buzz.

One of the residential buildings, the Landmark on Grand River, totals 12 stories on the north side of East Grand River Avenue. It’s equipped with a small-format Target store that offers groceries and other necessities such as home products and clothes.

“The Target is a huge win for the city,” said Tom Fehrenbach, the community and economic development administrator in East Lansing. “Bringing those types of products and the availability for fresh foods, grocery and things people need without having to get in their car and travel to other stores that are farther away, I think, is really critical again to strengthening the community and the downtown.”

Also, a win, said Mayor Pro Tem Erik Altmann, is dozens of residential spaces specifically reserved for diverse age groups. According to East Lansing Buzz, the 10-story residential building on the south side of Albert Avenue offers 92 “active-living” residential units for those who are 55 years old and older.

“These have both been goals of everybody in East Lansing for a long time. To have an urban grocery and to have a more diverse group of people living in the downtown, so it’s not just one relatively narrow age range,” Altmann said.

The Albert building also includes retail space and a four-level parking structure.

Besides offering more places to live for diverse age groups, the Center City project also transforms the heart of the city into a pedestrian-centered space, according to project leaders.

Heather Pope, a community development analyst in East Lansing, said the project includes the transformation of what was an Albert Avenue parking lot into a pedestrian-friendly area where people can enjoy outdoor seating and improved landscaping.

“All of that area together is seeing more activity, more people out there using the outdoor space,” said Pope.

Other projects underway in the city include The Hub, which is a mixed-use development that spans 10 stories and will offer 347 market-rate apartments, retail space and a 158-slot parking structure. This building will house a 7-Eleven and Georgio’s Pizza, according to East Lansing Buzz.

“The expectation is that it’s probably going to be very attractive to the student market, probably also attractive to some young professionals,” said Fehrenbach

An additional development, the Park District project, will offer residential rentals for those in the low-to-moderate income brackets. The project also includes a 194-bed hotel. In addition, the development will straighten out Albert Avenue and realign it across Abbott Road, according to project leaders.

“Providing that flow where it feels like just a comfortable way to continue walking and finding the new developments down there,” said Pope.

Once completed, city leaders want all three developments to foster pedestrian use and diverse living spaces while evolving the identity of East Lansing from college town to destination city.

“When people think of East Lansing, I want them to think, ‘Wow, we should go down there because there are so many different things we can do and so many different places we can go,’” said Pope.

 

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