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Ferguson: New project to ‘stimulate’ Southwest Lansing 

Mixed-use development to replace former elementary school  

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FRIDAY, Dec. 20 — A vacant elementary school in Southwest Lansing is poised to become McLaren Health Care's newest medical facility, combined with a cafe, various retail and residential space — and  a community center to boot. 

Developer Joel Ferguson, of Ferguson Development in Old Town, today announced he will redevelop the site of the former Pleasant Grove Elementary School, on the corner of Pleasant Grove and Holmes roads. Plans call for the building to be demolished and for a new “community-based” project that caters to the local neighborhood to take its place, the developer said. 

“This project will utilize a prominent location in Southwest Lansing with a rich history and a proud background of strong community involvement,” Ferguson said in a press release. “It will stimulate the surrounding community and improve the quality of life and help to build a strong local economy.” 

The announcement comes as McLaren prepares to close its two large hospital campuses in south Lansing in order to relocate to a new facility on former Michigan State University farm land. 

The Ingham County Land Bank’s board of directors voted Thursday to offload the 3.9 acre corner lot — once appraised at $400,000 — to Ferguson for $100,000. Construction plans are evolving, but they will include rental space for McLaren for dietary treatment, eye care, dental work, diabetes care and some “community space.” 

Senior or special-needs housing could also be merged into the project, as well as a cafe and retail space. But first, developers want to hash out plans alongside the community to better assess neighborhood needs. And before anything can begin, the asbestos-contaminated building will abated and bulldozed, Ferguson added. 

The project could also likely require a tax increment financing plan, but Ferguson said he'll see what is available and take those plans "one step at a time."

“That whole quadrant of Southwest Lansing is going to become a medical desert,” added project manager Christopher Stralkowski. “There are certain types of primary services that people are going to need access to. It’s really a community-based development. This isn’t Eastwood Town Center. This isn’t some Dollar General.” 

Civil rights activist Malcolm X attended the now-shuttered elementary school. Ferguson Development plans to honor him by either moving his statue on site or placing another “momentous structure or plaque” somewhere on the property. 

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor said the development will be “transformational” for the city.  

“This will provide much needed medical care where services are currently lacking and it will create a new building and facility on a crucial corridor in Southwest Lansing,” Schor said. “I am excited to see this progress.” 

The building, in its current condition, is not reusable and will need to be bulldozed, Ferguson noted. But that corner — which is surrounded by liquor stores — is still worth the investment, developers said. 

“We’re going to do everything we can to serve the needs of that community,” Stralkowski said. “We’re listening and then we’ll come back and try to figure things out. We’re going out into the community with this one. It’s a work in progress, but this is not hotels and market-rate housing and all of the things we usually talk about.” 

No specific timeframe has been established for the redevelopment, Stralkowski noted, but the sale agreement approved yesterday gives Ferguson Development  a 14-month “due diligence” period and sets a closing date for on or before February 2021 — plenty of time to sort out how ambitious the development plans can become. 

“This is special and will adhere to the needs of the community,” Stralowski added. “This is the type of thing Southwest Lansing needs. It’ll activate the corner. It won’t necessarily make anybody rich, but it’ll serve a need.” 

Under the sales agreement, the property cannot be used for any type of medical marijuana or sexually oriented business or as a casino. 

Editor's Note: This story has been edited to clarify that Ferguson Development plans to demolish the former elementary school for the new development. 

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