In the decade since Mayor Virg Bernero took office, the Lansing skyline has slowly evolved as new developments change the contours of the city.
Bob Trezise, president and CEO of the Lansing Area Economic Partnership, rattled off a litany of successful projects accounting for thousands of new jobs and, he says, an increase in Lansing’s population. He said when he was first appointed to his post he kept a cover image from City Pulse featuring a cobweb-covered Lansing skyline. That, he said, drove his motivation to develop the city and the region.
And clear the cobwebs.
There have been notable successes that are reshaping greater Lansing and others in the planning stage that portend even greater change.
In 2015, Jackson National Life insurance company completed a $130 million expansion and added 1,000 jobs. Lansing beat out Franklin, Tenn., for the project.
Niowave Inc. created a rare isotope facility for $79 million and added 120 jobs. Spin-offs from the Michigan State University Facility for Rare Isotope Beams project — the FRIB — are just beginning.
There has also been a flurry of residential building. The Outfield apartment project going up on the northern end of Cooley Law School Stadium was recently featured in Sports Illustrated Online. Apartments at the former City Market location at Shiawassee and Cedar streets are being rented out.
Midtown, to the east of Frandor, is renting apartments and PNC Bank is anchoring the building. The 2000 block of Michigan Avenue is slated for a multimillion dollar make-over, including residential and retail spaces.
Many of these projects have been accompanied by press releases, architectural renderings and civic celebration. Some continue through the approval process, while others have withered because of a lack of financing.
“The vast majority of our projects are successful,” Trezise said. “They are all online for review. They are obvious to the eye and to the bottom line of the city. LEAP works to get difficult and challenging sites redeveloped and quite often it takes several attempts and many years before a project is completed.”
Together they are positioning Lansing for a sustainable economic future and complementing its traditional strengths: cars, capital and college.
City Pulse checked on the status of 10 notable projects in the Greater Lansing area. The results are below.
1. RED CEDAR RENAISSANCE
PROJECT LOCATION: Former Red Cedar Golf Course on Michigan Avenue, 61 acres
PROJECT COSTS (AS DETERMINED BY DEVELOPER): $276 million
PROJECT: Development of floodplain area into mixed use — residential and commercial
FIRST PROPOSED: 2014
DEVELOPMENT INCENTIVES APPROVED TO DATE: None
MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY: City of Lansing
This project is still in the discussion phase as private and public financing options are explored and developed. Lansing City Council would have to finalize any development agreement. Construction could begin as soon as spring 2016, with a projected completion date in 2017.
“Our due diligence and negotiation continues, and I remain very optimistic about the project and the extraordinary impact it will have on the Michigan Avenue corridor at the geographic nexus of Lansing, East Lansing, Lansing Township and Michigan State University,” said Trezise. “2016 will be a watershed year for this project as all of the complexities of redeveloping a flood plain site are worked out, private and public financing are finalized and site work begins.”
2. LANSING KEWADIN CASINO
PROJECT LOCATION: Michigan Avenue and Cedar Street
PROJECT COSTS (AS DETERMINED BY DEVELOPER): $245 million
PROJECT: A 125,000-square-foot casino with parking decks.
FIRST PROPOSED: 2011
DEVELOPMENT INCENTIVES APPROVED TO DATE: None.
MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY: City of Lansing, State of Michigan, federal government agencies and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.
In 2011, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and leaders of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians announced plans to build a 125,000-square-foot casino on property owned by the city adjacent to the Lansing Center downtown. The city would sell the property to the tribe. The proposal has been delayed by lawsuits, the last of which was rejected by a federal court in September of last year. The casino is by no means a sure bet, however. The tribe must receive approval from both federal and state governments to break ground. The Bernero administration has said the city would have a revenue sharing agreement with the new gambling facility. The estimated $6 million coming in from the casino would be used to finance the Lansing Promise scholarship program.