BY: NATHANIEL GAYNOR
LANSING STAR STAFF WRITER
The Lansing City Council held a public hearing Monday during their regularly scheduled meeting regarding the requested rezoning of property on Dunckel Road with the intent of turning the vacant hotel there into an upscale student residential complex.
“It’s obviously a huge positive for the economy as it would bring in many jobs that were not already there,” said Lansing City Council President Carol Wood, Monday, following the one hour meeting.
Road to occupancy
The proposed process will take the property at 3600 Dunckel Road that currently is the home of the vacant Harley Hotel, and downzone it from an “F” commercial district and “J” parking district to a “DM-2” residential district.
“We’re required through zoning that when something has less of a use than what it could be used for, we have to downzone it,” said Wood. “Right now it could be used for a gas station, hospital, all of those things. By downzoning it, this property couldn’t be used for anything other than housing.”
Thomas Hitch, an East Lansing attorney for FG&P LLC, the owner and developer of the property, and Keith Brennan, a representative of the housing complex to be known as The House, spoke before the City Council regarding their $9 million construction plan.
“We see this as a great opportunity for the city and for students in the area,” said Hitch. “We think this new housing complex will attract students from Cooley Law School, Michigan State University and Lansing Community College.”
Brennan told the council that the plan is for occupancy to begin in the fall of 2014. The facility will include an indoor swimming pool, gathering spaces, a theater room, a gaming room, a social kitchen, complementary parking, a sand volleyball court, a bocce court, a fire pit, bike storage, cable and wi-fi.
“The property is being re-landscaped,” said Brennan. “We are building six units to be used as models for tours and promotions.”
According to the property’s website, each unit will contain hardwood floors, a bedroom, kitchen with a dishwasher, bathroom and air conditioning. Every unit will be furnished. Rent is estimated to range between $875 to $975 per month.
Positives and negatives of downzoning
During the meeting, A’lynne Boles Robinson, the council’s vice president, cited concerns regarding code of conduct.
“Riverstone Residential Group, the nation’s largest third party multifamily manager, will be managing the property,” said Brennan. “All hallways will have controlled access entries. We’ll also have security cameras.”
Wood echoed Robinson’s concerns.
“Whenever we see a congregation of students, there’s always a possibility that problems will arise,” said Wood. “For example, we see issues going on in East Lansing. However, I think seeing how much money these men have put into this, I am a little more at ease.”
Though she cited some concerns, Wood said she sees the project as a positive for the city.
“When you look at the fact that that hotel has sat there vacant for a number of years, I really don’t have any issue with the downzoning of the property,” said Wood.
Another positive, according to Wood, is how little the city needs to do.
“They are doing this without asking much of anything from us,” said Wood. “For example, one of the things they could have asked for is an obsolete property tax exemption, but they didn’t.”
The Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act “provides property tax exemptions for commercial and commercial housing properties that are rehabilitated and meet the requirements of the act,” according to the Michigan Department of Treasury’s website.
“They are making it very easy for us,” said Wood.
Click here for more Zoning Information.