City Council turns down Bailey Street parking lot development project

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East Lansing residents attending the city council meeting on Oct. 17

Rachel Lewis

East Lansing residents attend city council meeting on Oct. 17 to voice their opinions about the proposed building at 530 Albert Ave.

After weeks of contention among East Lansing residents, the city council voted no on the project proposed for the Bailey Street parking lot. 

“It’s exciting,” said Paul Martin, the manager at the Wild Goose Inn. “I thought it was going to pass but it didn’t. I’m just shocked, but I’m excited, I’m happy.” 

Al Bay, the owner of the Wild Goose Inn, as well as many other local business owners came to the meeting to inform the council of their strong opposition to the proposal for a five story affordable housing apartment complex at this location. 

Many of these business owners were at the council meeting on Oct. 3 to speak to the council during the public hearing. After the vote got pushed back, they returned on Oct. 17 to re-emphasize their concerns during public comment. Their main issue with the development was that getting rid of the parking lot would harm their businesses. 

Before the council made their decision, the members heard public comment from East Lansing residents and held a Q&A with Chris Young, a representative from the American Community Developers. While council members Dana Watson and Jessey Gregg voted in favor of the project, George Brookover, Noel Garcia, Jr. and Mayor Ron Bacon all voted against it. 

“The main reason I am going to vote against this is that I really don’t feel like we’re listening to our businesses and I’m not going to vote for something where our businesses are going to suffer,” Council Member Garcia said before the vote took place. “I’ve always been concerned with the density of downtown,” he added. 

Many people were most surprised by Bacon’s vote, believing that he would have voted in support of the project. 

“It’s nice to know that they finally heard what the people are saying. It’s a great feeling,” Martin said. 

However, there is still an ongoing need for affordable housing in East Lansing. 

“I am a huge fan of affordable housing in the city of East Lansing. The people who live the furthest out should not be the people who make the least amount of money,” Council member Watson said. She wants East Lansing to become a more income diverse community, and believes that voting yes on decisions like this are what will enable it to happen. 

It is still unknown what will occupy the Bailey St. lot in the future. The city has already decided to no longer continue their lease of the parking lot because of its underuse. 

Although the city would get less tax money from an affordable housing apartment complex than it would from a business that does not have tax breaks, such as a hotel, it would still be making more than what it currently makes from parking revenue. 

There are multiple other projects bidding for this land, many of which would also remove parking spots. 

 Council member Brookover warned the community of this, despite voting against this particular development. 

“To the folks that are against this, I understand that. But there are a lot of other things that can go on this site. This may be a question of ‘be careful what you ask for,’” Brookover said.

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