(This story was updated at 2:00 p.m.)
THURSDAY, April 9 —Developers of the former Red Cedar Golf Course are rebooting their plans for redevelopment after the state rejected tax incentives for the project last month. But first, their plans need to return to the Lansing City Council.
“We’re making progress,” said Karl Dorshimer, vice president for economic development at the Lansing Economic Area Partnership. “There have been small changes to the project, so as a result, the purchase and development agreement will need to be amended.”
Developers threatened to halt the project after the Michigan Strategic Fund board rejected a multi-million-dollar tax increment financing package last month to help support construction on the site. Dorshimer confirmed that developers will revise and submit another plan for approval.
But recognizing that he was speaking at a public meeting, he opted to keep details to a minimum at today's virtual board meeting of the Lansing Economic Development Corp.
“There are a lot of moving pieces, but we’re moving forward,” Dorshimer added.
Christopher Stralkowski, project manager for Continental Ferguson LLC, said last month that construction will continue with a “private investment” of nearly $275 million but has previously declined to say whether that would include bankrolling the project with tax dollars.
“This has always been a privately financed project,” Stralkowski said without an explanation.
Stalkowski hasn’t responded to several subsequent questions or a request for an interview.
Regardless, construction there — or anywhere else in the state — has been halted until at least April 13 under Whitmer’s recent “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order that mandates nonessential employees work from home. That list doesn’t include commercial contractors.
The revised plans for the project still need to be approved by the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy and the Lansing City Council before it can take another swing at the Michigan Strategic Fund.
Dorshimer said the City Council is expected to review the plans in detail Monday. Council President Peter Spadafore said the revisions are expected to include a reduction in student housing and the partial or total elimination of an integrated parking structure on the site.
“If we can stick to schedule, we expect by the end of the month or early May to have all the approvals necessary for this project,” Dorshimer added. “The developer started this project at their own risk essentially, but they had a tight schedule and wanted to get the project going.”
Continental Ferguson was formed by Frank Kass, a Columbus, Ohio, developer who specializes in student housing, and Joel Ferguson, a Lansing developer and a trustee at Michigan State University. Ferguson declined comment. Kass was not immediately available.
Recently rejected plans to prop up the nearly $275-million superdevelopment with tax incentives didn’t include enough information or comport with Michigan Strategic Fund guidelines and would not result in “overall increased economic opportunity for the region,” according to a statement from officials at the Michigan Economic Development Corp.
And while developers can submit another plan, they had previously planned to pull the plug on the project altogether. As of this week, those plans, at least for now, appear back on track.
Continental-Ferguson LLC broke ground on the project last October after the Lansing City Council approved plans to get the redevelopment started last April. Dorshimer said developers made the decision to start building before they secured funding entirely at their own risk.
If the project goes south, developers will still be on the hook for construction costs, he said.
Plans apparently still call for the vacant parcel to be transformed into market-rate and student housing, two hotels, a senior care facility, an amphitheater and various retail and restaurant space. It’s unclear how much of the previously planned student housing will remain on the property.
The revised plans for the project, which have not been made available to City Pulse, are apparently significant enough to warrant another review from City Council, Dorshimer said.
At least half the Lansing City Council had leaned against the project as it was being discussed in 2018 but it was ultimately approved 7-1 as the plans continued to shift. Spadafore, at the time, was the only member to vote against the plan, but he doesn’t expect to do so again.
“I’ve said this before. It’s done,” Spadafore added. “The 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.”
Visit lansingcitypulse.com for previous and continued coverage as the plans push forward.
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