Biggby One dodges Gateway Project; residents concerned

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By Chris Boggus
Entirely East Lansing

East Lansing residents gather on the cities e-Town Hall to discuss the upcoming Gateway Project. It is projected to take up block 270 of W. Grand River Ave and threatens the surrounding area.

Chelsea Bagby, assistant manager of Biggby Coffee.

Chelsea Bagby, assistant manager of Biggby Coffee.

Biggby Coffee was created in East Lansing in 1995 and has since branched out to more than 100 franchises across the Midwest. However, the original Biggby of block 270 W. Grand River Ave. was recently considered for reconstruction and to be a part of the proposed Gateway Project.

“Some of our regulars were not happy at the prospect of this building being taken down,” said Chelsea Bagby, assistant manager of the original Biggby. “Knowing we are store one is something we take pride in, but the building is old.”

The store may need some renovations, but luckily for Biggby, store one and its coffee drinkers, the revised Gateway plans exclude the coffee house landmark, and will be plotted on the neighboring lot.

According to DTN property developers, the Gateway will be a multi-use building with: a bank that has drive-through access, a retail shop, a DTN leasing office and 39 two-bedroom apartments. The property will have an underground parking lot to accommodate both customers’ cars and residents’ cars.

Residents have been posting their opinions about the Gateway Project on East Lansing’s e-Town Hall.

“What I am concerned about is promoting pedestrian visibility in this area,” wrote resident Kristin Beals Bellar. “My family frequently walks along Grand River and there are already so many dangers walking downtown with all the busy intersections on Grand River.”

Some citizens responded more positively.

“A nicely textured design overall and suitable for our main street. While everyone has their own aesthetics and preferences for storefront, I think that it is a very attractive proposal,” wrote an anonymous East Lansing resident. “It would be a nice addition to the neighborhood.”

The e-Town hall is not the only way to follow the progress of the Gateway, or any property proposals for that matter.

Heather Pope, the community development analyst for East Lansing’s planning commission, tells how the community can get involved with block 270 Grand River Ave. “If you live within 300 feet of the property, you’re going to get a notice in the mail about the proposed project specifying the date of the public hearing, and how to obtain any additional information,” said Pope.

According to conversation on the e-Town Hall traffic brought on by this multi-use building is among the biggest concern for the area. “Traffic in that area of Grand River is already hectic. Do we really want to add potential chaos,” said an anonymous East Lansing resident. With 39 two-bedroom apartments added in the neighborhood, there will be more congestion added to the existing traffic from Crunchy’s Bar and Biggby Coffee.

“I definitely think it would increase traffic at Biggby,” says Bagby. “All of the students in the surrounding complexes come here to study, so it would add another set of students to the mix. Not to mention the business brought on by the bank and retail store.”

The Gateway Project will be discussed further at the city council meeting on April 21.

2 thoughts on “Biggby One dodges Gateway Project; residents concerned

  1. Oops, your agenda is showing: “threatens the surrounding area.” Why are you saying that re-development is (automatically/always?) a threat? That sounds more like an opinion than news. I have nothing against opinions, but I feel they must be labelled as such.

    • Ahh yes, different wording should have been used to better convey the effect this development could have on the surrounding area. I appreciate your comment very much, I will be more mindful of wordplay in my articles to come.