By Kristen Alberti
Listen Up, Lansing
Sparrow Health System has the go-ahead to build a new cancer center and parking structure, the Lansing City Council decided on Feb. 23, 2015. The new additions will be located on the south side of East Michigan Avenue, west of the current Sparrow Professional Building.
This project is estimated to cost $64 million and will consist of a five-story professional building with a four-story parking structure in a total of 132,000 sq. feet, according to Sparrow’s rezoning application.
“The proposed four story parking structure is planned to have some retail space on the ground level along Michigan Avenue,” stated the application.
“The new cancer center will offer the latest technology and treatments, plus ongoing support services for patients and their families,” said Sparrow’s digital communications specialist Sacha Crowley. “Designed with the changing future of health care in mind, this space supports the unique collaborative teams of specialists at Sparrow; all in a new, healthy, healing, and patient-centered environment.”
City Council Member at Large Carol Wood said the retail space will be filled with things that will benefit people coming and going from the health center. Possibilities to occupy the spaces include a gift shop, a coffee shop, a pharmacy, or a juice bar.
The land where the new additions will be placed used to be where Bingham Elementary School of the Lansing Public School District resided. According to Wood, the school closed three years ago along with other schools in the district because of low enrollment. As reported by MLive, Sparrow purchased the school for $550,000 in November of 2012.
Wood said Sparrow probably won’t be breaking ground until the spring, and the project should take around two years to complete once it’s initiated.
When asked of downsides about the new expansion, Wood said the only one she could think of is that there may be more traffic and noise during construction.
The rezoning application recognizes the anticipation to create more traffic, but notes that the main access to the site will be from East Michigan Avenue, which is already a traffic-filled street. There will be additional access to the site from Bingham, Eureka, and South Holmes streets, but the impact the construction will have on the residential neighborhood is “anticipated to be negligible,” said the application.
The new expansion will directly back up into the Association for the Bingham Community, or ABC Neighborhood. As listed on allenneighborhoodcenter.org, the ABC neighborhood boundaries are between East Michigan Avenue and East Kalamazoo Street, from South Pennsylvania Avenue to South Holmes Street.
At the city council meeting, Lansing citizen Harold Leeman Jr. said he was concerned that the residents south of the construction may have been uninformed about the upcoming construction.
“I just hope they went out of their way to notify the public,” said Leeman. “There used to be green space there from the old elementary school for years and there will be a big change of environment with a new big building.”
When asked about this issue, Wood said the ABC Neighborhood has been quite supportive of the new additions.
“One of the biggest issues the neighborhood had was removing the green area from the school because kids liked to play there,” Wood said, “but that’s when Sparrow decided to look into purchasing a nearby vacant lot to put play equipment.”
ABC’s president Denise Kelley said she could only speak for her neighborhood board and not all of ABC’s residents, but they are supportive of the expansion because of the open line of communication the health system has with the community. Sparrow listens to the association’s ideas and takes their suggestions to heart.
“Sparrow has been very good about showing us plans and working with us about fine-tuning traffic flow,” Kelley said. “It’s a company that really does want to be a good neighbor.”