Sept. 24 2015 11:09 AM

$8 million downtown renovation will provide 100 apartments, offices, stores

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(This story has been updated to correct a factual error.)

THURSDAY, SEPT. 24 — Oliver Towers, vacant since a fire in 2000, will get an $8 million makeover to transform it into apartments, office and retail space.

The developer, George F. Eyde Family LLC, will receive a $3 million tax break over 20 years.

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“These costs will be reimbursed, this isn’t cash up front,” said Bob Trezise, president and CEO of LEAP, the Lansing Economic Area Partnership, which brokered the deal with the Eyde Family. “This building today, frankly has been somewhat of an albatross for a long time hanging around all of our necks, and finally the ice has broken on this.”

The developer asked the city to grant a seven-year obsolete property rehabilitation act, otherwise known as OPRA, an OPRA abatement, and also approve a brownfield redevelopment plan to assist with the cost associated with this very extraordinarily expensive kind of development. The OPRA will save the developer approximately $900,000 in property taxes over the first seven years of the Brownfield Plan. The Brownfield Plan will reimburse up to $2,157,000 over those 20 years for their private investment.

The eight-story Oliver Towers is at the corner of Capitol Avenue and Ionia Street. It was a senior citizens residence until the Lansing Housing Commission closed it after the fire, except for its offices on the first floor. The LHC moved out in 2013.

The new project will include 100 apartments from the second through the eighth floors, on top of space for retail stores and offices for new startups. It is only several blocks from the Capitol Building.

Mayor Virg Bernero lauded the Eyde Family, which renovated the old Knapp’s Department Store on Washington Square, for a plan he said would help make Lansing a place where young professionals would want to live.

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“If you build it, that is, if you build something cool, if you build something incomparable, if you provide cool spaces and cool places, people will come,” Bernero said today. “They will come back to the city. That’s what’s happening in Lansing.”

Bernero talked at length about how Michigan has a history of “hollowing out” its cities, as professionals flee amid crumbling infrastructure and dilapidated buildings. He praised city officials for halting the population decline, and expressed his confidence that the Oliver Towers project might encourage people to move back to city.

The Eyde Family bought the building from the city last November, but it took more time to finalize the purchase, which Trezise said still isn’t exactly set in stone.

Still, developers expressed their confidence and excitement in the project.

“The George Eyde Family is excited to once again team up with the CIty of Lansing and work together to take a vacant building and breathe new life into it,” said Nick Eyde, the project developer, said in a statement.

(Because of a reporting error, the original version of this story incorrectly stated the terms of the tax break.)

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