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Tuesday, October 1,2013

Kids in the Hall

Tax incentives for Jackson National Life approved and the Michigan Chamber wants to build a surface parking lot downtown

by Andy Balaskovitz

Tuesday, Oct. 1 — The Lansing City Council unanimously approved tax incentives Monday night for Jackson National Life Insurance Co. as part of the company’s $100 million expansion in Alaiedon Township.


The Council approved two personal property tax exemptions on two parcels where JNL plans to expand around its headquarters off Interstate 96 by the Okemos Road exit. The Council also approved creating two Industrial Development Districts on the parcels.


Councilman Brian Jeffries has called the package a “very unique arrangement,” because the city will receive an infrastructure fee in the amount that would be exempted in personal property taxes.


The company plans to add 1,000 new employees over the next 10 years. On one of the parcels, the company will begin work on a $14 million, 80,000-square-foot print center. The second parcel is on the west side of Okemos Road, though there is no planned development at this point.


In late August, the Council approved tax-sharing agreements as part of the development, which transfers the property to the city of Lansing. The city will reimburse the township a portion of the taxes levied on the property.


In other business, the Council scheduled a public hearing for Oct. 21 to discuss the Michigan Chamber of Commerce’s request for a special land use permit to build a surface parking lot at 534 S. Walnut St. just south of downtown.


Jeffries said Monday that the chamber purchased the property and demolished a structure there. Property records show the chamber bought it on March 1 from Michigan Jaycees Inc. for $42,000. The property is across Hillsdale Street from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce’s headquarters at 600 S. Walnut St.


Gretchen Cochran, president of the Downtown Neighborhood Association, said if approved, all four corners of the Hillsdale/Walnut intersection will have surface lots.

Citing runoff and emptiness at night, “In general, we (the neighborhood association) feel that surface parking lots are not good for the neighborhood. … I don’t call that neighborhood vibrancy whatsoever.”

The Council’s Oct. 21 meeting will be busy with development-related public hearings. On Monday night, the Council scheduled two more public hearings on planned projects near Old Town.


One is on a brownfield redevelopment plan for the former Heeb Building at 1113-1119 N. Washington Ave., where developer Sam Saboury wants to invest $3 million on a mixed-use project.


Another public hearing will be held on a brownfield redevelopment plan at 1800 Turner St., where cement manufacturer High Grade Materials wants to demolish an old cement plant and build a state-of-the-art facility in an effort to beautify the site.

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