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Lansing City Council approves agreement on new development project

Artist rendering of proposed Red Cedar development.
Continental/Ferguson LLC

Lansing’s City Council voted unanimously Monday night to approve a purchase and development agreement of a new mixed-use development project on land along the Red Cedar River. Construction could start as early as spring of 2019.

The land is the site of the former Red Cedar Golf Course, but the city has been talking about building something new on it since at least 2011.

The project is a joint venture with two development companies: Frank Kass’ Continental Real Estate and Joel Ferguson’s Ferguson Development LLC. Kass and Ferguson have been involved in the project since 2014. Monday night’s agreement allows the city to sell the land to these developers for $2.2 million, down from a previously proposed $7 million.

The project itself is expected to cost about $242 million. It is set to include a public park and amphitheater, retail stores, restaurants, two hotels, about 300 housing units and 1,200 beds for student housing, and a “senior village” consisting of assisted memory care and independent living.

Christopher Stralkowski is the project manager for Ferguson Development. He says the company expects “over 400 new permanent jobs being created by the development and over 1000 temporary construction jobs created over the next 2.5 years.”

He says the presence of this public, multi-use space will attract new people who are recently out of college or looking to start careers to Lansing.

“These are the types of developments that people expect and would want to see in an area that they're considering relocating in,” Stralkowski says. “That includes good schools, green space, blue space, the ability to go out and see a concert in the park.”

Peter Spadafore, a member of Lansing’s City Council, supports the project not only for the new jobs and residents, but also because of how the land is positioned between Lansing and East Lansing.

“We're two such cities that are separated by very little in terms of geography, but that short distance has kind of stagnated in the past, in terms of development and connectivity,” Spadafore says. “So hopefully this project will create that gateway between our city to the east and Lansing.”

Spadafore also says, however, that about $70-80 million in public infrastructure needs to go toward this land before it is buildable; it is not only contaminated from being the site of a former golf course, but is also situated on a floodplain. For this reason, construction will be elevated above the existing land, and they will build an underground parking structure to allow floodwater to flow unimpeded.

The project still needs the approval of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Michigan Economic Development Corp. A plan from the Lansing Brownfield Redevelopment Authority also requires approval before construction begins. The developers believe that could happen as early as spring next year.

This post was updated Wednesday, July 25 at 12:00 p.m.. It originally quoted Peter Spadafore saying the underground parking structure would "absorb the floodwater." Project manager Christopher Stralkowski clarified that the structure will allow the floodwater to flow unimpeded. Spadafore later confirmed this, saying "absorb" had been a technically incorrect word choice.