Bailey Community Center may find new life

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Current plans for the development of the new Bailey Community Center. Courtesy of CAHP and PK Housing Management

Current plans for the development of the new Bailey Community Center. Courtesy of CAHP and PK Housing Management

By Jane Wagner
Entirely East Lansing

Since Sept. 4, the Bailey Community Center has been closed completely. Built in 1922, the building has been an important part of the East Lansing community as a child-care center and community space. The Capital Area Housing Partnership has proposed an $8.6 million project to transform the Bailey Community Center into a residential and commercial building.

The project will include 19 one-bedroom and seven two-bedroom senior apartments on the second and third floors. On the first floor, there will be commercial space that will potentially serve as a daycare center and office space for the partnership.

“We are developing the first floor as entirely community space with the intent of finding a daycare provider to come in to do daycare services,” said Capital Area Housing Partnership Executive Director Mikki Droste.

Currently, the plan is to remove the newer one-story addition to build a much larger three-story addition. The building is historic, so to receive tax credits to fund the project, the original structure needs to be left as untouched as possible.

“We will be investing some of our own funds as well as getting loan funds,” said Droste. Up to 75 percent of the $8.6 million project is expected to be covered by housing and historic preservation tax credits.

The partnership will lease the building from the city of East Lansing for 45 years, with the option to renew for an additional 45 years.

“During the 45 years,” said Droste, “(Capital Area Housing Partnership) will have the responsibility of overseeing the upkeep and management of the building.”

The Bailey Community Center sits on 3.81 acres, which includes park space and a parking lot.

“A certain amount of park land is going to be encroached upon,” said East Lansing City Clerk Marie Wicks. “Under grant rules, the city is required to designate the same amount as a park and is looking at the corner of Albert and Abbot.”

This grant requirement is rather easy for the city to overcome. The amount of land being used is not very large and is not worth as much as land closer to downtown.

“The existing asphalt that was used as a basketball court will be removed,” said Deputy City Manager Tim Dempsey. “We are removing a little bit of green space, but it is predominantly asphalt. We will be increasing the amount of the green space in the existing plot of land.”

The city has designated the corner of Albert and Abbot for the relocated green space. There is currently a public fountain with benches at this location.

“The repurposing has to do more with the state requirement,” said Dempsey. “The land we chose to replace the green space with has a higher dollar value because it is downtown, despite the area being smaller. The requirement doesn’t look at square footage, it’s looking at the dollar value.”

The city does not plan to alter the corner of Albert and Abbot because it is already considered a public green lot. The city is not repurposing a vacant lot.

The 26 apartments will be available for rent to residents over age 55. The one-bedroom units will be roughly 800 square feet, and the two-bedroom units will be roughly 950 square feet.

“The cost of renting these apartments will depend on unit size and income,” said Droste. “Rent will include water and sewer, and tenants will pay for their own gas, electricity and heat.”

The grant application was due on Oct.1. The partnership and the city expect to hear about the grant’s approval by January.

“If they receive approval in January, it will be about six months before they can start work,” said Dempsey. “They need to work out and finalize the financial and architectural planning.”

Many residents were distraught over the shuttering of the Bailey Community Center due to the loss of child-care and other programs offered. The project seems to have essentially no drawbacks to the East Lansing community.

“The project is all beneficial,” said Dempsey. “It preserves the original building, offers housing opportunities for seniors that is close to downtown, and offers a way to prevent the building from being vacant.”

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