Lansing City Council approves downsized Red Cedar project

Developers push past state rejection with more plans for tax incentives


MONDAY, April 13 — With almost no discussion, the Lansing City Council approved plans tonight enabling downsized plans for the Red Cedar project to continue along Michigan Avenue.

The City Council, by a 6-2 vote, approved an 11th amendment to development plans at the former Red Cedar Golf Course. The move inches the now $262 million project one step closer to reality as developers make another attempt to secure tax incentives from the state.

After the Michigan Economic Development Corp. rejected tax incentives for the project last month, developers revised their plans, eliminating both a parking structure and a building originally intended for student housing — cutting $13 million off the price tag in the process.

Developer Frank Kass of Columbus, Ohio, who partnered with Lansing’s Joel Ferguson on the project, had initially threatened to halt the construction plans altogether, but he has since voiced a desire to bring revised plans back to the Michigan Strategic Fund for its eventual approval.

That meeting hasn’t yet been scheduled.

The new plan reduces the number of student housing beds from at least 1,100 to 792. That space, instead, will become a parking lot as developers also nix a $15 million parking structure.

Because the site sits nearly seven feet below the floodplain, developers initially thought parking would be needed to serve as the foundation of each of the buildings. Kass said contractors have since realized they could simply build their hotels and apartments on elevated piles of dirt.

No other changes are expected either with the project itself or its application for Brownfield tax incentives that will allow developers to be reimbursed with years of new property taxes on the site, Kass confirmed. He said he also expects the MEDC to approve their second application.

Council President Peter Spadafore, who voted against the project last year, voted against the amendment tonight. He was joined by Councilman Brandon Betz.

“I do not think that the project is worth $50 million in tax abatements to our residents, and I think the project would continue without additional abatements or incentives,” Betz said after the vote.

Spadafore didn’t comment on his vote tonight but had previously recognized the latest approval was more of a formality.

“I’ve said this before. It’s done,” he said earlier this month. “Council has already approved the Brownfield and the development agreement. This is a revision, so obviously it’ll be weighed on its merits, but it’s not a big restructuring of the financials. Construction has already started.”

Regardless, construction there — or anywhere else in the state — has been halted until at least May 15 under Whitmer’s recent “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order that mandates nonessential employees work from home. That list doesn’t include commercial contractors.

However, the governor said today that construction will likely be one of the first industries to be allowed to reopen.

Visit for previous and continued coverage as the plans push forward.


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