Schor fires back at developer who claims city is acting illegally

Granger Group lost bid to Boji Group for a new Lansing city hall


TUESDAY, March 26 —  Lansing Mayor Andy Schor has fired back at the developer Granger Group , which has accused the Schor administration of violating the law by not affording it an opportunity to revise its proposal for a new Lansing city hall.

Granger Group was one of two developers that submitted bids for the project in March 2022, along with Boji Group. Granger sought to build a new city hall on the site of the old Walter Neller Building at the corner of Grand Avenue and Allegan Street in downtown Lansing, which Granger owns. The city placed the building on the make-safe-or-demolish list in October after years of attempting to get Granger to repair it.

"Mayor Schor acknowledges the interest of this Grand Rapids developer wanting to do work in the City of Lansing now that we have $40 million from the state" for a new city hall, according to a statement  issued this afternoon by city spokesperson Scott Bean.

"The fact remains that his one property downtown is a neglected, crumbling eye-sore that the City has ordered to be demolished because it is literally falling apart and is dangerous. This is next to a parking lot that was supposed to be redeveloped decades ago," the statement continues.

"His newest proposal would delay a new city hall, put the state dollars at risk, and lose the proposed hotel development for the current city hall.  The time to offer a serious response to the RFP was 2 years ago, and no addendum was offered until the state gave the City $40 million. Mr. Granger doesn’t get to come in now at the last minute and try to kill a fully baked plan by proposing a plan that won’t work, just because he wants $35 million and wants the city to knock down his dilapidated property.

"We had hoped to work with him here in Lansing, and this is very disappointing. We wish him well on his future endeavors."

Granger Group claimed that the administration only asked Boji Goup to revise its bid to reduce the size of the project after voters approved a bond issue that includes funds to build a public safety building. Police and the courts will be housed there instead of city hall, as they are now, dramatically reducing space needs in a new facility.

“Granger did not have the opportunity to provide alternatives to meet the City’s needs” with a revised bid, Gary Granger, president and CEO of Group Group, a Wyoming, Michigan, development company, wrote Schor in a letter dated yesterday. “While it is clear that Boji was provided single-sourced opportunity to work with the City directly and allowed the chance to modify their proposal to the RFP, Granger was not afforded the same options.”

“The Boji proposal was chosen because it was 1-out of-1 proposals provided the opportunity to work with the City, which is not within Lansing Law,” Granger wrote.

That contradicts what Schor said today and what Bean told City Pulse yesterday, which was that both Boji Group and Granger Group were asked to revise their bids after voters approved the $175 million public safety bond issue in the November 2022 general election. Bean said that Boji responded, but Granger did not.

The Granger letter also calls for a new round of requests for proposals for a new city hall as a result of the $40 million state grant the city has accepted for the project.

“Per Lansing Law, this should back into an RFP process to ensure that the City is receiving the best possible outcome, regardless of the pre-selected recipient, which is line with both local and state law,” Granger wrote.

Granger also claims that the Boji Group plan would cost $53 million, $13 million more than the state grant.

Granger’s letter follows a written exchange between him and Schor in which Granger asked for reconsideration of Granger Group's plan and Schor’s rejection, as first reported by City Pulse yesterday.

The Boji Group plan calls for adapting the old Masonic Temple, 217 S. Capitol Ave., as the new city hall. The Schor administration has said it could do so for no more than $40 million, the size of the state grant.

Two weeks ago, the City Council approved accepting the state grant. However, last week, on a 4-4 vote, the Council turned down Schor’s request for $3.65 million to purchase the Masonic Temple building from Boji Group, the next step toward converting it into City Hall. The Council members who voted against it said they wanted more time to consider the plan. The Schor has to wait 30 days before it can seek approval again.

Meanwhile, Granger’s son, Jason, spoke during public comment to the Council last week in an effort to gain support for the Granger Group plan.

In an email reply to questions this morning, Jason Granger said “this is not true” when asked if Bean was correct in saying the city had asked Granger Group to revise its bid.

Asked about how the Granger Group arrived at $53 million as the cost of the Boji Group plan, Granger said in his email response,  “Ancillary information that we cannot confirm because it has been in a closed-door process that is not available to the public or RFP respondents.”

Asked how Granger Group arrived at $40 million as the cost of its own revised plan, Granger emailed: “Inflation adjustment to our original budget, which takes into consideration our proposed land gift reduction, removal of finance/interest costs, and estimated for a variable change adjustment to the City's space plans, which have not been provided to us, but apparently has been provided to Boji only.”


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