Student housing has potential to grow

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Karlee Humphry
Meridian Times staff writer

Students came in the hundreds on Hannah Blvd. in August.  Not for some sushi, or a trip to Pizza House, but rather to move into the new Lodges of East Lansing.
A more walkable community has been a common theme and goal of the township board here in Meridian Township. With plans to build many mixed use developments in the area, the township hopes to achieve this goal.  Just over a year ago, the township agreed to put this into action by building the Lodges of East Lansing.  Although the name may be confusing, the Lodges themselves are actually in Meridian Township.
Chris Amrich, a currently employee as well as resident of The Lodges has been pleasantly surprised by the outcome of the development.
“It’s so much different than other places around here…people’s parents come in here and say ‘Wow, this is so great!’, everybody gets really excited about it when they see our model and it’s so nice,” said Amrich.  “It really doesn’t compare to other places, I’d say.”
With the Lodges being such a successful mixed use development in the community, the owners of the property came to the township board meeting on Oct. 4 to discuss a phase two plan of the project.
John Acken, a member of Capstone, came before the board to discuss what he said has been achieved by phase one of The Lodges.
“The overriding goal in phase one was to create a pedestrian friendly village for students.  That is something I believe we have achieved on the site,” said Acken, “The goal itself being pedestrian friendly, we feel we have achieved that.”
However, Trustee Lynn Ochberg disagreed with John on his statement, and truly believes that although the village is intended for pedestrian use, she has never seen many people walking about and it is not being utilized in that way.
“I have looked both during school term and summer. I’m curious about what you (Capstone) are planning to do that will actually bring people outside,” said Ochberg.
Besides having a walkable community and village community at The Lodges, Supervisor Susan McGillicuddy voiced some concerns about the lack of green area.
“I feel that if we can keep it as green as possible and try to reduce as many cars as possible to keep it greener,” said McGillicuddy. “I feel that those are all important facets.”
Ochberg agreed with the Supervisor and thought that the green area in phase one became something less than expected.
“That alleged green space on phase one…it’s a drainage ditch you can’t get around,” Said Ochberg.  “That is not the kind of green space that we imagined it would be. I wish it would’ve been a little more people friendly of a space.”
Although no voters were cast or decisions made, The Township Board will continue to meet with the developers and come to a conclusion on phase two of The Lodges.

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