Community members in disbelief after affordable housing vote postponed

Print More

After the East Lansing City Council announced that the vote on an affordable housing apartment complex on 530 Albert St. was being postponed, community members were audibly disappointed and upset. “Are they afraid of us?” one woman exclaimed.

The plan for construction would take out the Bailey Street parking lot located just behind Grand River Avenue on Bailey and Albert streets. While some were all for integrating affordable housing near campus, many were concerned about parking post construction and the strain that it would have on businesses, their employees and long time customers.

Josh Veermont, faculty member at MSU, explained how people who choose to live in the prospective apartments and don’t have a car would be benefitted because they could walk more places downtown.

“We need affordable housing, and we especially need it at that site, near downtown,” he said. “You can do a lot without a car if you happen to live there.”

Sally Potter has been getting the rodeo burger with cheese on rye bread done medium well with a side of fries at The Peanut Barrel since 1984. She knows how much parking means to this business, and she took the floor to express her opinion.

“A great idea in a stupid spot,” she said. “One by one those small businesses… are going to go away… [because] you are taking away their most valuable resource, parking.”

With over 20 surrounding local businesses, the parking lot is used by many customers daily. Kris Lachance has been serving East Lansing as the owner of tattoo and piercing shop Splash of Color since 1997. She says that as a business owner whose shop will be inevitably impacted by this construction, she wants to see the council vote no.

“The Bailey Street lot is used daily by patrons of some of East Lansings longest running businesses,” she said. “This will affect both employees and staff, impacting the availability of close accessible parking and barrier free entrances…”

Lachance also explained that she has not heard from the city of East Lansing through any of this. She said that she feels like there has been a lack of transparency throughout the whole situation.

“We are disappointed that the city of East Lansing did not and still has not sat down with businesses directly that will be harmed by this development to listen to their concerns,” she said. “Why would the city try to pass these plans without listening to our concerns beforehand?”

The East Lansing City Council will hold another meeting on Oct. 17 to reassess and vote on this issue. Mayor Ron Bacon reassured the community members that they are not predetermined on anything, and that they will review all of the materials from the community before the vote.

“Thank you for all the work in the community, that is what makes East Lansing special,” he said.

Comments are closed.