East Lansing Community Divided Regarding Street Parking Removal

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The newest project discussed by the East Lansing City Council wants to turn the 530 Albert Ave property into affordable, low-income housing, which would rid East Lansing of extra parking. 

During the Tuesday, Oct 3 city council meeting, the East Lansing city council voted to delay any potential vote regarding the potential transformation of 530 Albert Ave to the Tuesday, Oct 17 city council meeting. Many residents from all over East Lansing, Lansing, and even some of the surrounding towns showed up to the city council meeting, as a public hearing was held so the people could state their cases and share their personal experiences to either defend or oppose the removal of the Bailey Street parking lot behind Grand River Avenue to make room for low-income housing.

 Despite people supporting the potential addition of low-income housing to the East Lansing community, the community was relatively divided on their agreement with the plan to destroy the parking lot to pave the way for low-income housing. The low-income housing complex is supposed to have a two-year building period, so in the event the proposal is approved, people would not be able to live in this property until late 2025 or early 2026 at the earliest, raising concern among the people of East Lansing.  

According to East Lansing Info (ELi), Albert Ave proposal for low-income housing would add a five-story, 122-unit apartment complex in downtown East Lansing. However, the people’s cause for concern is the potential removal of the Bailey Street parking lot in the process. The lot, also known as Lot 11, has 120 parking spots in a convenient location for members of the East Lansing community. Lot 11 is directly behind East Lansing delicacy Peanut Barrel, and many customers of Peanut Barrel usually park in this lot.

            Justin Booth was one of the many speakers stating their opinion and experiences to the council at Tuesday’s public hearing. Booth is the chair of the Bailey Community Organization, so he has experience regarding hearings and votes of this nature. The Bailey Community Center redevelopment occurred in 2016, and Booth saw similarities between the two. Booth even went on to express his strong disapproval for the plans to get rid of the parking lot. “I have no doubt that East Lansing needs more low-income housing. This is most definitely the right idea, but in the wrong location in our community”, said Booth. 

Al Bay is another one of the people pushing for the preservation of the parking lot. Bay lives just down the block from 530 Albert Ave, where the prospective housing will go. Bay even created a petition among local business owners and residents in the 500-block area to attempt to set this project back. Bay’s petition received 900 signatures, and Bay claims, like Booth, that they want more low-income housing in this community, just elsewhere. However, this is not what Bay’s biggest concern is. “There is a 55-foot fence north of the property that would be destroyed with the property. I want to protect myself and my community and the removal of this fence goes against that”, said Bay. 

Blaine Brewer is another person who agrees with Booth and Bay. Brewer is concerned about the loss of parking in East Lansing, especially with how busy it can be. He is also vastly worried about the property being fully taxed without the means to distribute services in East Lansing. “I propose an agreement that is more of a compromise. This deal needs to be substantially reworked so the city could put up parking ramps on their end”, said Brewer. 

Michigan State University Professor Dr. Josh Vermaas disagrees with the trio, despite being one of few who spoke at this meeting to support the proposal.  “We need affordable housing, and we need it right at that site near downtown. This is in a strong downtown area, and Grand River and MSU are extremely close, so if you live at this location, you don’t need a car”, said Vermaas. 

During the Oct 17 city council meeting, the council voted to reject this proposal. According to The Lansing State Journal, the parking lot is not expected to remain as is. The business owners on the 500 block being unaware of the proposal. Regardless of the outcome of the council’s vote, the passion among the community was moving.

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