More Red Cedar housing amendments irk Lansing City Council

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The Red Cedar housing project was in front of Lansing City Council members March 25 for another round of changes and councilmembers were not happy.

The project will include at least 200 apartments. Most will be single units. Also planned are an assisted care center, hotels and restaurants. It is to be along Michigan Avenue near Michigan State University’s campus.

City Attorney Jim Smiertka presented the changes at a Committee of the Whole meeting, which includes department heads. The new plan amend the layout of the project. Changes include two hotels in the same structure, rather than one; reduced space for restaurant and retail, and student housing in the main section will be moved right next to Michigan State.

Additionally, Smiertka said the bonding section of the proposal was clarified. The developers would be the only ones doing the bonding, not the City of Lansing.

Smiertka said the cap on developers’ tax-exempt bonding is now set at whatever amount ultimately qualifies as tax-exempt bonds by the Lansing Brownfield Redevelopment Authority.

Councilmembers Peter Spadafore and Patricia Spitzley said the number of one- and two-bedroom units was reduced in the new proposal.

The developers said it was premature to predict a specific number of units. Information sent to an assessor beforehand was a rough estimate.

Spadafore said, “So, in the original six versions we saw 55 one-bedrooms and 115 two-bedrooms. Now, you’re telling me there’s nine two-bedrooms and mostly studios and one-bedrooms for families to live in?”

Spitzley said, “We’ve gone through six iterations and now we’re here. We’re at the seventh amendment. You know the times are ringing here, and now there’s a change in the language. We’ve gone along here thinking one thing and now at the last minute there’s a change. That concerns me.”

The housing is not meant for students, but for professors, graduate students or active seniors, the developer said.

Councilmember Jody Washington said, “I am a little disturbed at the very few two-bedroom apartments. I did hear from one of my constituents, who is an incredible landlord on the east side, and he is concerned about the student housing and it taking away from landlords on the west side who rent to students.”

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