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Wednesday, March 13,2013

Red Cedar plan picked

Review team recommends the Jerome-Ferguson plan to repurpose Red Cedar Golf Course, seeks to ask voters for permission to sell more than 12.5 acres

by Andy Balaskovitz

Monday, Aug. 13 — An overgrown golf course and two vacant car dealerships are three eyesores on Michigan Avenue that would get redeveloped as part of the Red Cedar Renaissance plan. 


But the announcement comes with a caveat: Voters must agree to sell more of the old golf course in addition to the 12.5 acres it approved for sale last November. How much more is unclear.


An eight-member review committee selected a plan proposed by developer Joel Ferguson and businessman Chris Jerome, whose family is connected to the two closed car dealerships.


The rest of the 61-acre course would be repurposed by Ingham County Drain Commissioner Pat Lindemann to filter storm water runoff from Frandor and elsewhere in the Montgomery Drain to reduce the amount of pollution into the Red Cedar River.


A press release from the Mayor’s Office this afternoon called Jerome and Ferguson’s plan “the most desirable and viable redevelopment plan.” While it did not specify how much larger the mixed-use development would be than 12.5 acres, the administration said it “goes well beyond the boundaries of the original” parcel.


Jerome and Ferguson submitted two proposals, one that would have fit on the 12.5-acre site and a larger master plan. The smaller plan would build housing, bars, a hotel, restaurants, retail stores and an amphitheater, while a larger plan adds more housing, a game field and nature trails.


The proposal includes redeveloping the former Story Olds dealership across the street on the north side of Michigan Avenue, as well as the former Sawyer Olds dealership adjacent to the golf course to the east. The Sawyer Olds property is owned by CKJ Properties LLC, whose resident agent is listed as Leo Jerome, Chris Jerome’s father. The Story Olds property is owned by Kay Investment Co., which shares the same business address as CKJ on Creyts Road.


The administration plans to introduce a new ballot proposal at tonight’s City Council meeting asking to sell off more than 12.5 acres. If it’s rejected by the Council, or by voters in November, “city officials will decide whether or not to proceed with the proposal or to reopen the RFQP process,” the administration said today.


The Jerome/Ferguson proposal was selected out of a pool of five. Four other proposals came from a Texas-based company looking to build student housing; a graduate student who suggested an aquarium to fill the space; and two separate plans submitted by DTN Management and Plante Moran Cresa that called for seven-story, mixed-use housing, retail and offices.


Bernero said in a statement that he is “intrigued by the notion of an expanded development on the Red Cedar property.”


The panel recommending the plan was made up of Bob Trezise, president and CEO of the Lansing Economic Area Partnership; Lindemann; Karl Dorshimer, also of LEAP; Lansing Parks Board President Rick Kibbey; Lansing Parks and Recreation Director Brett Kaschinske; Lansing Planning and Neighborhood Development Director Bob Johnson; mayoral Chief of Staff Randy Hannan; and Ken Szymusiak, also of LEAP.


The “Red Cedar Renaissance” project is being heralded by city and local economic development officials as an unprecedented opportunity to not only link East Lansing, Lansing and Michigan State University, but also to clean the polluted Red Cedar River.


Former Lansing Mayor David Hollister told City Pulse last month that the decision is “probably one of the most critical decisions of the Bernero administration up to this point.”


“We are very pleased with the exceptional vision and creativity that is evident in this proposal,” Dorshimer said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the development team to learn more about their detailed plans for this vital property that connects Lansing, East Lansing and Michigan State University.”

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