EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)— For years, the intersection of Grand River and Abbott has been a true crossroads. A vibrant, buzzing downtown on the east side. But on the western front: blight. Thanks to an agreement between East Lansing and WGR Finance, which owns the property, that won’t be the case come 2017.
East Lansing’s director of planning, building and development, Tim Dempsey, says the deal includes demolition by the end of July on two buildings north of Grand River Avenue.
Dempsey says all of this is important for safety.
“You don’t want anybody to access these properties. There’s no lighting. The plumbing hasn’t been functional. So you don’t really know what kind of situation you’re running into there.”
The move is also vital to East Lansing’s image “…as a key entrance to the university and a key property in downtown that we really need to improve the aesthetics,” explained Dempsey.
East Lansing officials say that the 2008 recession and financial issues with the previous developer delayed this project.
But now, the question of what to build.
“If you look at our downtown businesses that have been here a long time, they are ones that are typically serving both the student market and the permanent resident market,” said Dempsey.
For Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tim Daman, it’s about blending a bunch of options that will attract more people.
“Mixed use of residential, business, retail environment that could really thrive on the corner there.”
Daman says that high end housing for empty nesters, who want to stay in the urban environment without breaking the bank, could be key. That would mean nice restaurants, shops and who knows what else for a community focal point.