By Grant Essenmacher and Hannah Brenner
Lansing Township News Staff Reporters
Lansing Township has played host to the massive outdoor shopping plaza Eastwood Towne Center since 2002. The township and shopping center have long been known to have a welcoming relationship to new businesses and owners looking for expansion.
However, the Walmart located in Eastwood Towne Center has led to an apparent rift with the township. Their expansion plan has been delayed due to an ongoing case with the Lansing Township Board.
Walmart originally started working on a plan for the extension with the Lansing Township planning commission back in 2003, but the economic recession in 2008 delayed their plans for construction to 2015. Now, their plans are being delayed further by a dispute with the township over whether a township go-ahead to do the work had expired.
Despite this, Eastwood Towne Center plans to continue their strong relationship with Lansing Township in terms of store expansion and new businesses coming into Eastwood. Emily Desrochers, the Eastwood Towne Center general manager, has said that Eastwood’s future plans have not changed.
“Eastwood Towne Center is always looking for opportunities to transform the center into a regional shopping destination not found anywhere else in Mid-Michigan,” Desrochers said. “We plan to continue to uphold that strong tradition and experience not found anywhere else.”
The township is always working in conjunction with new business owners who want to expand, according to Lansing Township Supervisor Diontrae Hayes. She said it is important because citizens love to see expansion.
“The consensus among residents is that new developments are great for the township. They love it,” Hayes said.
Hayes also went on to discuss that each situation is different in terms of how hands-on the township needs to be. Typically major stores know site plans and permits better than new small business owners.
“It depends on the size of the business, we have been fortunate that a lot of our businesses are pretty knowledgeable with site review. When it’s a new business it takes more hands on assistance with permits and site review,” Hayes said.
Citizens of Lansing Township always enjoy seeing new businesses expand and come to the township. Jeff Barnes, a resident, shares that opinion.
“I visit Eastwood for basically anything I need shopping wise. It’s in an extremely convenient location for me,” Barnes said. “I would always love for outdoor shopping centers to add stores, especially one I shop at often.”
Michigan State University Professor of Retailing Patricia Huddleston discussed the perception of Walmart and how their actions are perceived by the general public.
“The perceptions of Walmart, in general, are often negative because of their business practices,” Huddleston said. “Improving the store is not likely to change those perceptions.”
Despite the dispute with Walmart, Lansing Township is continuing to welcome new business expansion and is always willing to listen to business owners who want to come to the township.
“A perfect example is … (recently) in Eastwood we had a business that came before the board for final development. Eastwood is a division of the township,” Hayes said. “When they grow and expand it’s great.”
The mission of both sides is to create a better environment for business owners and citizens. Expansion is something Eastwood and Lansing Township like to see.
“We are always working to enhance the unique mix of exclusive retailers and restaurants,” Desrochers said.