Three years ago, Abby Ciesalk was entering her sophomore year at Michigan State University. She was on the job hunt like many students always are and went looking around for applications to fill out. “I’d never worked in retail before but I just needed like a simple part time job to do during school,” Ciesalk said. “So I just applied to places around my area, [Eastwood Towne Center] is like 10 minutes from my apartment, so I kind of applied out of convenience at first.”
She found the perfect job at a Bath & Body Works located within Eastwood Towne Center, a shopping mall in Lansing Township. Flash forward, Ciesalk will be graduating this spring and has continued working in the township for so long because of the people.
Currently, there are no plans underway showing signs of re-development for the now-empty lot that was once the Waverly Golf Course. Due to a zoning moratorium expiring in Lansing Township, the 120-acre property owned by the City of Lansing closed in 2007. The lot is now a “single-family residential area,” according to Sam Schultz, who is the township planner in Lansing Township. “Currently, it is used as recreation space and it would have to be re-zoned if anything was to be done,” Schultz said. “If zoning was re-done, it could be used for only the options under the township ordinances which involve low resident intensity like churches or public parks and playgrounds.”
Holly Madill who is the outreach specialist for the Michigan State University Land Policy Institute and Planning & Zoning Center provided information on zoning moratoriums from the Michigan State University Extension.
It’s one of the most loved and hated times of the year — depending on how you feel about Daylight Saving Time. When it comes to springing forward, the good thing is the days become longer, you conserve a small amount of electricity, and in all likelihood, you’re outside more than in the winter. The cons, however, include losing that coveted extra hour of sleep, and multiple health risk factors, like increased stress levels, car crash rates, and an increase in heart attacks and strokes. Whether you’re in Lansing Township, Michigan or Anchorage, Alaska, the effects of daylight saving can be both a blessing and a curse.
John Elias, who lives across the street from Elizabeth Park in Lansing Township, recalls his neighbor, Cheryl Basey, putting her ambitions into action. Basey had a family to worry about. Before passing away, Elias recalls her being the driving force behind creating Elizabeth Park, and arranging for the upkeep of it afterwards. “Most people in this area rent houses and have kids. Cheryl’s house was right next to this empty lot and on top of that she couldn’t see her kids when they were playing outside,” Elias said.
Haslett resident Kate Daniels frequently makes a 15-minute trip roughly three times a month to The Eastwood Towne Center for upscale shopping and the outdoor mall atmosphere. But, not even an endless amount of hours spent at the shopping center could prepare Daniels for this geography question. When asked where the shopping mall was located, Daniels replied with, “I guess maybe it is considered to be in Lansing.”
Unbeknownst to some visitors, store employees and even residents from neighboring townships, Daniels is not alone with being confused about where Eastwood is located. Technically, the lifestyle center is located within the boundaries of Lansing Township, according to the Charter Township of Lansing’s website, and not the City of Lansing. “I have never thought about it actually,” Daniels said.
When 43-year-old Bobbie Ledesma was diagnosed with breast cancer, she had no idea who was going to take care of her or her son. Ledesma, a native of Saginaw, was with General Motors for almost five years when she moved to Lansing. She was transferred to the GM Lansing Delta Assembly plant and had no family in the area. Ledesma joined the United Auto Workers, or UAW, Local 602 — located in Lansing Township — and became involved with the branch’s Women’s Committee. It was Ledesma’s fellow union members that helped her beat her cancer.
Opened in 2002, Eastwood Towne Center has brought new forms of work and leisure to the residents of Lansing Township. Emily Desrochers, who is the general manager for Eastwood, said that the outdoor shopping center truly is the “center of attention.”
“With a unique lineup already including Forever 21, Sephora, Apple and NCG Cinemas, we continue to look for ways to add as many attractive retailers to support our project and the Lansing community,” Desrochers said. “Supported by our strong lineup of shops, services restaurants and entertainment, Eastwood Towne Center’s target audience is women between the ages 18 to 55.”
In order to maintain community outreach the variety of stores and brands target their own market with social media. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram provide the opportunity to deliver the tenants their own tailored communication that reach their entire social community. Aimed at “younger knowledge workers” employee at Victoria’s Secret Rachel Niceveski said she normally sees women in their 30s and 40s who are shopping for their nieces or daughters for a gift or birthday present.
Located less than five miles away from Michigan State University, Eastwood Towne Center attracts more shoppers than just Spartans and Lansing natives. Haley Garr, a sophomore at Central Michigan University, said that Eastwood is one of two large-scale shopping centers including Midland Mall that CMU students routinely travel to on the weekends. “The shopping scene in Mount Pleasant is very minimal, we don’t really have any stores and the ones that we do have are all pretty similar,” Garr said. “Mount Pleasant has large scale stores like Meijer, Walmart and Target, but its a lot of the same things everywhere.” According to Garr, CMU students are willing to travel about 60 miles to shop at Eastwood’s trendier clothing stores like Forever 21, American Eagle and Victoria’s Secret.
Two new hotels and a potential apartment complex coming to Eastwood Towne Center could be the foundation of economic growth for the area, as the lifestyle center on the northwest side of Lansing Township continues plans for expansion. Lansing Township Supervisor Diontrae Hayes said last month that a Holiday Inn and a Hilton Homewood Suites would be constructed behind the NCG Eastwood Cinema. The new plans would already add to the two hotels currently located in the Eastwood complex: a Hyatt Place, which opened last May, and a Fairfield Inn & Suites expected to open later this spring. The Hilton Homewood Suites, part of an Eastwood expansion plan sponsored by the township known as The Heights, has already been under construction since late 2016 will accommodate travelers staying for extended periods of time. According to Hayes, the Holiday Inn will break ground later this spring and will be located west of the Hyatt Place and the Fairfield, kitty-corner to the NCG.
Lansing Township, which lies within Ingham County, has generated a majority of its revenue from property taxes paid by residents and business in the area since 2015. According to the 2016 Municipal Finance Summary, Lansing Township had a total of $14,753,216 to allocate throughout all departments in the community. Michigan State University economics professor Ronald Fisher, who has reviewed Lansing Township’s expenditures before, says the expenditures shows a large portion of a loan that needs to be paid back. “From what I see, the township has a high fraction in debt which is larger than normal,” Fisher said. “This one is a special case.