July 28 2017 09:45 AM

Developer: Request for proposals emphasizes tearing down iconic building

An architectural rendering of possible redevelopments included in the proposals appears to show the entire elimination of the current buildings and plaza, bringing a multi-story building to the sidewalks on Capitol and Michigan avenues. That supports fears the mid-century modern building could be lost.
Courtesy Photo

This story was updated at 3:00 p.m. to include a comment by spokesman Randy Hannan.

FRIDAY. July 29 — A request for proposals to purchase and redevelop Lansing City Hall would likely result in the 1958 building being demolished to make way for a new building, a leading local developer said.

The developer, Harry Hepler of H Inc., said it appeared to him the only way a developer would be able to compete for the project would be presenting plans to demolish, rather than rehab, the City Hall and Police Department buildings and subsume the plaza between them.

“The current City Hall is a shining example of Mid-Century Modern architecture that should be restored, not torn down,” HepIer said today. “I am confident the building could be fully restored for less than $200 per square foot, a significant savings from the costs I’ve heard thrown around to move into new facilities.”

“The city should slow down this process, take in public input, give a more serious look at saving the building, and avoid taking on more debt than absolutely necessary given our long-term challenges with unfunded liabilities,” Hepler said.

Developers’ plans will be scored and appear to provide additional points for developers who will demolish and replace the existing buildings.

Randy Hannan, chief of staff to Mayor Virg Bernero, said "the RFQP does not place any limitations on the possibilities for redevelopment of the City Hall site. All options are on the table and we will see how the market responds as this process moves forward. Our intent remains to attract the best developer with the best plan for a transformational project."

“Proposals will be evaluated by the Review Team against the criterion that follow,” the proposal explains. “Proposed Development, Design and Site Plan is an urban high-rise mixed-use building that will achieve as many of the following objectives as possible: Dominant hub of the business activity in Downtown, Maximizes density on the site, Takes full advantage of the location and views, LEED Certified sustainable and environmentally friendly, Increase tax revenue, Provides and promotes convenient and safe pedestrian and bicycle access, Serves as a catalyst for further development, Attracts and retains talented people in the area, Increases visitor numbers, Creates a 24/7/365 center of activity and use.”

An architectural rendering of possible redevelopments included in the proposals appears to show the entire elimination of the current buildings and plaza, bringing a multi-story building to the sidewalks on Capitol and Michigan avenues. That supports fears the mid-century modern building could be lost.

The 41-page Request for Proposals put out by the city’s Realtor, CBRE/Martin, calls for developers who have at least $100 million in development projects in the past five years to submit plans to purchase and redevelop the City Hall complex in downtown, which includes City Hall, Police Department and plaza.

Hepler criticized the requirement. “As a historic rehabilitation developer I am disappointed that the City Hall RFP is excluding so much of our local talent.”

Hepler's company converted the old Motor Wheel factory on Saginaw Street and an old tractor factory on Pere Marquette across from the old Clara’s restaurant to apartments.

The RFP seeks the creation of a “dominant hub of the business activity in Downtown,” specifically “mixed use high-rise that could include a variety of commercial, retail, entertainment, hotel, and high density residential concepts.”

The proposal provides additional points for projects that provide a “feasible and cost effective plan for a potential new City Hall facility option for the City.”

Bernero has been touting a possible relocation of the city’s headquarters for years. One is the former Lake Trust Building, few blocks south of the current City Hall location.

The proposal surfaces just as the city is preparing to rename City Hall after former Lansing Mayor David Hollister.

Proposals are due to the city by 4 p.m. Aug. 20. The original request was issued on June 12.

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