Voters reject parking lot proposal

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By Chris Hauler
Entirely East Lansing

A boarded up bank and vacant parking lots sit on the west corner of downtown.

A boarded up bank and vacant parking lots sit on the west corner of downtown.

For years, citizens have urged the city to clean up the blighted section on the west side of downtown. Voters had the chance to approve a proposal which would allow the city to negotiate to sell three acres of vacant or unused property.

The proposal needed 60 percent approval to pass, and while the results were close, it ultimately failed to reach the needed outcome by 57% to 43%.

Approval would not have led to the direct sale of the property, it would have been an important step in redeveloping that corner.

DTN Management Co. and Park District Investment group proposed to build two projects on the property. The first would have included a first-floor bank branch, 120-room Hotel Indigo, and five floors of apartments. The second project would have been a five-story mixed-use building with commercial space and an apartment complex.

DTN officials have made it clear they plan to withdraw their proposal if the vote failed.

“Moving forward with the Park District Project would have resulted in the removal of vacant buildings downtown,” said Lori Mullins, community and economic development administrator. “It would have strengthened the area by increasing the number of residents living there, the number of employees working there and the total amount of retail establishments.”

The next step for the city is unclear as city officials and most voters were hoping for the proposal to pass.

“I voted in favor of passing the proposal,” said Patrick Pomaville, a MSU senior engineering student and East Lansing homeowner. “We have to be able to take pride in our city. That old bank has sat with graffiti and boarded windows too long. I want to see that property become a lively part of downtown.”

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