Sept. 7 2016 09:57 AM

Contradictions hobble plan to save Scott House

The future of a proposal to move the city-owned house at the center of the Scott Park controversy and convert it to condos is hazy at best 

“For the record, we have not revoked our proposal,” Vicki Hamilton-Allen, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Capital Region, told the Lansing City Council on Aug. 22. “It’s not buttoned up. I won't lie to you. There are some funding issues that are of concern to me."

But Hamilton-Allen’s statement contradicted an email she sent Jim Smiertka, Lansing’s city attorney, on Aug. 8. "Please be informed that Habitat for Humanity Capital Region will be withdrawing its interest in the Scott Center immediately,” Hamilton-Allen wrote in the email.

Her remarks to the Council two weeks later walked that back, saying that the email was “not an official resolution. That was part of a dialog that was ongoing between the City, BWL and Habitat. There were some concerns and some changes in the original agreement that have since been addressed.”

That email led Smiertka to rewrite a ballot proposal slated for approval by City Council that evening. The measure seeks permission from Lansing voters to sell the house, known officially as the Scott Center but also called the Jenison or Scott house. Smiertka replaced the mention of the sale to Habitat with a general question on whether to sell the house.

In an email Tuesday, Hamilton-Allen didn't answer a series of questions, such as why Habitat apparently reversed itself. All she said was that Habitat is "doing its due diligence" in studying the project.

The Scott Center, formerly the home of Orien Jenison, would need to be torn down or moved if the Council approves a proposal by the BWL to build a power substation in Scott Park, at Malcolm X and Washington avenues.

BWL officials agreed to spend up to $100,000 to move the home to a new location for a qualified bidder.

In late May, BWL, city and Habitat leaders announced the old home — mothballed for years — would get a new life at another city-owned location on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, between Lenawee and Hillsdale streets. The plan calls for it to be remodeled into four affordable condos, which would then anchor the development of 18 to 20 more condos.

Habitat offered the city $1 for the home and $1 for the lot where the organization wants to build the condo development. In May, Hamilton-Allen announced the organization would put $300,000 into the project and seek grants from the city.