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Monday, March 18,2013

Incentives for Walker Building

Lansing City Council scheduled to vote tonight on incentives for developing the Walker Building in Old Town. Waverly and Red Cedar plans also on the agenda.

by Andy Balaskovitz

Monday, May 23 — The Lansing City Council is scheduled to vote tonight on approving tax incentives for a developer interested in rehabilitating an Old Town eyesore.

The Walker Building at the corner of Grand River and Washington avenues in Old Town — last used as a dollar store — is up for an Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act tax incentive to redevelop the two-story building. The developer, Saed Saboury, wants to create a mixed-use structure with commercial tenants on the first floor and five one-bedroom apartments on the second floor.

The 12-year OPRA would freeze property taxes on the structure by declaring it functionally obsolete. The tax-freeze is only on the structure and not the land value.

The two-story building has been vacant for more than a year, said Tony Beyers, president of Vesta Building Industries, the construction manager for the project. Built in the early 1900s, the Walker Building hasn’t been used for residential purposes since 1948. Saboury plans to spend $517,500 on renovations, which are scheduled to complete by Dec. 31.

Before the Council can grant the actual incentive, it must first establish the property as an OPRA district. A public hearing is scheduled on the resolution before the Council votes.

In other business, the Council is scheduled to vote on language for two ballot questions that ask city voters’ permission to sell the former Waverly Golf Course and a portion of the former Red Cedar Golf Course.

If approved tonight, the questions would be on the Aug. 2 primary election ballot. Because both properties are dedicated parkland, the City Charter requires voter approval to sell any portion of them.

The city and Ingham County Drain Commissioner Pat Lindemann have proposed selling nearly 13 acres of the 61-acre Red Cedar property for private development as part of the larger Red Cedar Renaissance plan.

The sale would finance developing the rest of the property for multi-use parkland designed to prevent massive amounts of contaminated water runoff from Frandor flowing into the Red Cedar River. As it’s designed now, pipes leading from Frandor Shopping Center — which is about 75 percent impervious, Lindemann said — carry rainwater directly into the river.

The Waverly resolution is less elaborate. The city is asking voters' permission to sell about 120 acres that includes the former Waverly Golf Course and the adjacent Michigan Avenue Park. Unlike the Red Cedar resolution, there is no language that asks permission to sell the property for redevelopment purposes.

Council members Kathie Dunbar, Tina Houghton and Jessica Yorko support the resolutions. First Ward Councilman Eric Hewitt has said he supports the Waverly resolution but not the Red Cedar plan because it’s hinged on a development “vision” from the city. The other four Council members — Brian Jeffries, Derrick Quinney, A’Lynne Robinson and Carol Wood, were undecided on the Red Cedar resolution last week and wanted more information about future development plans. Jeffries, Quinney, Robinson and Wood could not be reached for comment today.

Before the Council can vote on the resolutions, it must be approved and voted out of Committee of the Whole, which is scheduled to meet at 6 tonight.

The Council is also scheduled to vote on nine appointments and reappointments to various boards:


  • Appointment of Jill Rhode to the Board of Fire Commissioners for a term to expire June 30, 2015;

  • Appointment of Cleophus Anderson to the Board of Public Service for a term to expire June 30, 2015;

  • Reappointment of Lewis Douglas Johns III to the Downtown Lansing, Inc. board of directors for a term to expire June 30, 2015;

  • Reappointment of Kris Elliott to the Downtown Lansing Inc. board of directors for a term to expire June 30, 2014;

  • Reappointment of Jonathan Solis to the Human Relations and Community Services Board for a term to expire June 30, 2014;

  • Reappointment of Lamar Wilson to the Human Relations and Community Services Board for a term to expire June 30, 2015;

  • Reappointment of Linda Sims to the Board of Police Commissioners for a term to expire June 30, 2015;

  • Reappointment of Paul Carrier to the Park Board for a term to expire June 30, 2015; and

  • Reappointment of Patricia Spitzley to the Park Board for a term to expire June 30, 2015.

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