May 3 2013 12:00 AM

City, Gillespie reach an agreement to get downtown project moving

City Pulse file photo

Friday, May 3 — The Bernero administration has brokered a deal with developer Pat Gillespie to get his downtown Market Place development moving, which includes a timeline for when “substantial completion” of construction should finish.

“We are very pleased to have worked out an agreement that will allow this tremendous project to move forward,” Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero said in a statement released this afternoon. “It has been a long time coming, but good things are often worth waiting for. The challenges of the Great Recession have caused delays or even killed any number of meritorious projects, so we are fortunate indeed that this one is alive and well.”

City Pulse reported Wednesday that Bob Trezise, head of the Lansing Economic Area Partnership, attended a City Council committee meeting to tell Council members that the city was exploring “legal remedies” because it believed Gillespie was in violation of a development agreement for not starting construction by Jan. 1.

As part of the agreement announced today, environmental cleanup of the site adjacent to the City Market on the Grand River will start “within days, with site preparation and commencement of construction to follow shortly after.”

Also, construction of the new four-story apartment building will start within 45 days after the environmental cleanup is finished. Gillespie then has 17 months for “substantial completion” of the building, “with an additional six months if necessary “due to unforeseen circumstances that could arise in the course of construction.”

“We are thrilled to move forward with this project and we are confident that the end result will be worth the extra time it has taken to make it happen,” Gillespie said in a statement. “We continue to be excited about Lansing’s future and we feel fortunate to be a part of the city’s progress.”

In an interview Thursday, Gillespie said Trezise’s announcement at the committee meeting, in which a Gillespie representative was present, was the first the Gillespie Group had heard about the violation.

The Market Place property sits vacant along Cedar Street between the Lansing Center and Shiawassee Street. The old City Market was demolished for the mixed-use project, which has been scaled back since original plans surfaced six years ago.

Some of the earliest estimates were that construction was supposed to start in Fall 2009. The original price tag for the project was $23 million.