With a little over a month left in office, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero is sprinting toward the finish line on what he hopes is his signature accomplishment: a new city hall.
City Council Monday night spent over two hours hearing from Beitler Real Estate Services of Chicago explaining the complicated land-lease deal Bernero has proposed.
Council voted 5-3 to hold a public hearing on the proposal on Dec. 11. Carol Wood, Jody Washington and Adam Hussain opposed the hearing because they contended the Council lacked sufficient information.
The Council has to approve the sale of City Hall if the deal is to move forward. Incoming Mayor Andy Schor has said he is “90 percent” behind the plan but still has questions about it, including where and how the city will come up with a location and funding for the court, jail and police operations that are part of the current complex at Michigan and Capital avenues.
Under the administration’s plan, on which Bernero signed off this month, the current City Hall would be turned into a five-star hotel and city government would relocate to the former Lansing State Journal building at Lenawee Street and Grand Avenue. Beitler officials told the Council that it was prepared to sink $42 million into developing the hotel. Because the city would still retain ownership of the property, the company would be a tenant. If something went wrong, Paul Beitler, head of the real estate company, said the redeveloped property and the millions in improvements would revert to the city to do with as it pleases.
Beitler’s company would purchase the former LSJ building and spend as much as $50 million to transform the building into a new city hall. Under that proposal, most city operations would be consolidated in that single building, but the 54-A District Court and the Police Department would have to find a new home. The redevelopment would be funded by taxpayer-backed bonds, paid back by Beitler through the lease payments and the new tax revenues generated by the redevelopment of the current city hall location.