Moving Lansing’s city hall to the Masonic Temple is a win-win-win strategy


(The writer is the mayor of Lansing.)

Lansing needs a new city hall.

Since the 1990s, when Mayor David Hollister began exploring options, the city government has made several attempts to find a solution. Any real solution has to work for both the city government and taxpayers, and now we have that solution.

Now is the time to move city hall into downtown Lansing’s historic former Masonic Temple building.

The current City Hall building, on the corner of Michigan and Capitol avenues, is a beautiful historic building in its own right. But it is in terrible shape, which City Pulse has documented. 

Seven years ago, there was a great proposal to keep the current city hall building and redevelop it into a hotel. But that project was put on hold because the city could not afford it due to courts, lockup, and the police station needing to move with the rest of the city government at the time. (Longtime readers of City Pulse will remember how extremely disappointed this paper was then.)

But now that Lansing voters approved a millage to build the new public safety complex that will move 54-A District Court, the police and lockup to South Washington Avenue, we have a workable plan that is a win-win for the city of Lansing.

Lansing has let too many buildings fall into disrepair and be knocked down. We lose too much of our history when we do this. The Masonic Temple building is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a beautiful structure downtown. Sadly, it has sat empty for too many years.

Recently, I sent a proposal to the City Council to revitalize that building and activate it again instead of seeing it vacant, blighted and possibly torn down. The city would use $40 million appropriated by the state of Michigan solely for this purpose. Additionally, the proposal could be regional and have another government entity, like the school district, renting space in the building. That will result in efficiencies for both entities, and the rent will be dedicated to future upkeep to ensure the building doesn’t fall into disrepair once again and risk demolition in the future.

The City Council considered this proposal at a recent meeting. While initially not approved, my administration submitted a new version after several Council members asked for additional time to ask questions and gather more information.

The proposal before the Council would also unlock the current City Hall. I am ready to finalize the plan to convert it into a hotel. Just about everyone agrees that this location is one of the prime spots for economic development in Lansing. We desperately need more hotel rooms for the business and visitors we attract, especially downtown where a new hotel would be a boon for the Lansing Center and others. Redeveloping this property into a hotel with a restaurant and other amenities will be a big part of reimagining downtown. It also ensures that this midcentury gem is not knocked down and we maintain the history in this important area of our downtown and city.

So, with this plan, we will save and renovate two historic structures that will be part of the more significant transformation of downtown. Lansing will do it using state dollars that otherwise would go to Detroit, Grand Rapids, or other areas for their development projects.

This proposal is separate from this needed economic development or the opportunity to save our history. Because some City Council members have asked for more time to review information, my administration and the developers will continue to answer all questions and provide the requested details. I am eager to get going for the downtown and the city to ensure costs don’t go up and have a new hotel and new city hall ASAP for our citizens and city. I have created a website — — which includes all the information requested for this plan. I hope the City Council will continue its due diligence and be ready to decide soon.

Lansing needs a new city hall, and this proposal will be a win-win for the city’s past, present, and future! What more can we ask for?


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