A $242 million development at the site of the former Red Cedar Golf Course is creeping closer to construction after city officials came to grips with its discounted price and approved the long-awaited property sale.
Lansing’s City Council unanimously agreed Monday to offload the site into the hands of Frank Kass and Joel Ferguson, the development team at Continental- Ferguson, for $2.2 million. Officials previously criticized the relatively small price tag for the massive development space but grew comfortable by this week.
Ferguson arrived at City Hall in a silver Bentley to watch as the Council finalized his deal.
“I’m supporting it and I’m not apologizing for my support,” said Council Vice President Jody Washington. “This has been dragged out for eight years. We got everything we asked for. I don’t know what the appraisal for this park is today, but I do know what the economic benefit will be. And it will be enormous.”
Developers plan to construct an amphitheater, two hotels, five restaurants, an ice rink and hundreds of housing options for families, seniors and students. More than a third of the 61-acre site will remain as parkland. Appraisals set the site at around $7 million, but negotiations edged off about $5 million from the price.
Local residents and Council members previously criticized the proposal, but officials at the Lansing Economic Area Partnership said developers have been more than flexible with the city’s demands. And besides, the figure was already inked out in closed-door negotiations with former Mayor Virg Bernero’s administration.
A deal is a deal, they said. There was no going back.
“Hindsight is always hindsight, but that was the deal and we need to honor it,” said Councilwoman Patricia Spitzley, the first to question the proposed sale price when officials last month set a public hearing on the topic. “I’ve got my fingers crossed. I hope this project turns out the way we were told.”
City officials previously agreed to pitch in $10.7 million in bonds for infrastructure as the project gained steam but developers — by the time the deal came to the Council — agreed to float that bill themselves.
Developers also agreed to compensate workers at prevailing wage for remediation and to use as much local labor as possible.
The cash from the sale will also be funneled into various parks around the city, assuming developers receive the final approval still required from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the city’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority to get the project moving.
“We all worked, I think, pretty hard to ensure we got the best possible deal for the city,” added Councilman Adam Hussain. “To be honest with you, I feel like we’re walking away with a biggest slice of the cake.”
Early drafts suggested construction on the development — billed as the “Gateway to Lansing” — could begin later this year with a targeted completion date of 2021. Continental-Ferguson officials estimate at least 388 jobs will be created by the project’s creation and more than 1,000 jobs will have indirect ties to the development.