Post-demolition plan for East Lansing Citizens Bank site hits snag

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Grand River Avenue has seen a lot of construction this month. First, the old Citizens Bank was demolished, and now the plan that was set to be carried out beginning in the next couple weeks has hit a bump in the road. The former site of Noodles and Company and many other formers businesses now sits empty.

Justin Dvorsky, a Michigan State sophomore, was excited to hear recently about a Target being built in East Lansing. However, when he heard about the developer backing out, he was shocked. Dvorsky said he hopes the city can do something in the future.

“It will probably take a while,” said Dvorsky, a Riverview native. “Likely be an eyesore for at least another year or two.”

After being approved at the city and state levels, the City Center Project was set for construction. However, on Friday, Oct. 20, the City Council received word from Chicago-based developer Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors that it would not be moving forward with the process.

Jonathan Sarmiento, a senior at Michigan State, said something needs to be done with that space. “Something needs to be done to help business when classes are not in session. That’s probably where they lose most business.”

“We already have a lot of superstores,” said Sarmiento, a Holland, Michigan native. “Coming from a family business, I support local businesses.”

The City Center Development was set to be a $126.6 million project, in partnership with East Lansing’s Ballein Management. The site plan included a 12-story apartment building in the 100 block of East Grand River Avenue. A smaller Target with a grocery department would take up the building’s first floor. The plan would have brought more than 360 new apartments to the East Lansing area.

Alex Payne, who lives near Grand River Avenue and Bogue Street, said, “Oh, wow, well I didn’t agree with it in the first place, but now that it might not happen they need to find a solution fast,” said Payne, who enjoys local pizza parlor Georgio’s Pizzeria. “Otherwise downtown is going to look blighted, and that’s not good for trying to attract people to East Lansing.”