Construction begins on $30 million Eastwood expansion project

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By Nick Somoski

The Vista coming soonLANSING TOWNSHIP – After years of discussions and delays, construction officially began Oct. 9 on the Eastwood expansion project.

According to officials from DTN Management, the main development company and financer involved with the project, the expansion of the Eastwood site on Lake Lansing Road and U.S. 127 will include a new apartment complex and two new hotels.

The Vista luxury apartments and Hyatt Place Hotel will be a part of “The Heights at Eastwood,” a development site that also includes office and retail space. A second hotel – Fairfield Inn & Suites – will be built on the east side of Preyde Avenue.

Costs and development

According to Lansing Township Senior Planner Matt Brinkley, the total cost of the project will be about $30 million. The cost for The Heights, which includes a parking deck, 15,000-square-foot commercial building, parking lots and roads, will be about $22 million. It was financed almost entirely by DTN with a 30 year obligation. Brinkley says rent will be used to pay this back; taxes will not be raised.

eastwood additions

The 196-acre site is located just north of Eastwood Towne Center in Lansing Township, a shopping center that is already thriving, according to Raji Uppal, vice president of DTN Management.

“Our goal is to create more than a shopping center – a community where you can live, work and play,” Uppal said. “You can walk to the movies, restaurants, shops and grocery store without ever using a car.”

Lansing Township Planning Director Steve Hayward says the expansion will add to the vibrancy of the era. “In two years’ time we won’t even recognize this area from what it looks like today,” Hayward said.

He also says having luxury apartments in the area will add buying power and create a lifestyle that should translate into an economic boost for the city.

The Vista at The Heights is considered by planners the highlight of the project. It will consist of 124 apartment homes built on top of 35,000 square feet of commercial/office space and 6,000 square feet of residential amenities, including the Eastwood Courtyard, which will feature spa and lounge areas that all tenants and visitors can enjoy. It will be located near the corner of Preyde Boulevard and Showtime Drive. (Click here to see a floor plan.)

rsz_eastwood_courtyard_4-10-12_b

All new landscaping, bike paths and new CATA bus routes will also be implemented throughout the complex.

Travel and economic impact

Brinkley says hotels are also an important part of development plans. “We’ve seen study after study that identifies pent-up market demand for rooms at this interchange and within this part of the region in general,” Brinkley said.

He says although tourism and community lifestyle are important factors of this project, the main target is business travel. “Business travelers keep area hotels at high occupancies,” Brinkley said.

It is business and leisure combined, however, that will drive the success of this project, according to Brinkley. “Hotels are more successful when shopping, dining and entertainment options are convenient and plentiful, and destination shopping, dining and entertainment are more successful when quality hotels are convenient and plentiful.”

“Achieving the right mix is challenging, but that’s the thing that will make the development successful in terms of long-term viability,” Brinkley said.

Uppal expects the project to create 286 new jobs and have a $23 million economic impact on the area. Vista residents will bring an estimated $2.3 million dollars in buying power to Eastwood Towne Center.

“Eastwood has been a phenomenally successful commercial development, and now we are thrilled to add a residential component along with the two new hotels to make it even more successful,” Uppal said.

Eastwood Project Rendering

Community reactions

Eastwood shoppers seem to support the development. Anna Ludington, a Lansing Township resident who visits Eastwood Towne Center every weekend, believes a commercial center as big as this could finally put Lansing Township on the map.

“So many people don’t even know Lansing Township exists,” said Ludington. “This could bring a lot of attention to [the township] and help expand the community.”

Paul Mitchell, who regularly shops at the  center with his wife, is excited for the changes. “I’m eager to see how it will all look when it’s done,” he said. “Eastwood Towne Center is already beautiful, but this could raise it to a whole new level.”

Although leaders in Lansing, including Mayor Virg Bernero, have spoken out against this project for drawing attention away from Downtown Lansing, Brinkley disagrees. “No one cares or even knows that they’re staying in a hotel, eating at a restaurant or shopping at a store that is located in Lansing Township as opposed to the City of Lansing,” Brinkley said. “What they remember is that they stayed in a comfortable hotel, had a good meal and enjoyed themselves.”

“A positive experience in Lansing Township is a positive experience for Lansing and the entire region,” Brinkley said.

The project is expected to wrap up by November 2013.

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