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Gillespie Group breaks ground for ‘600 Block'

Hotel, grocery, apartments to front Michigan Avenue

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MONDAY, May 6  — It’s about to get a whole lot busier over in downtown Lansing’s Stadium District.

The Gillespie Group formally broke ground today on a mixed-use construction project comprising downtown's first grocery store, dozens of market-rate apartments and the first hotel to arrive in Lansing in decades.

It’s the project “everyone has been asking for,” developer Pat Gillespie said today, speaking to dozens of officials and business leaders.

“We’ve had a lot of success in a short period of time but at each turn, someone would say, ‘When are you getting to get a grocery store? When are you going to get a hotel?’ No matter what progress we made, that was the litmus test for success,” Gillespie said. “Today we’re here to talk about and celebrate the groundbreaking.”

Contractors have been preparing the expansive, one-square-block site that runs east from Larch Street along Michigan Avenue. Plans for the “600 Block” project call for the hotel and apartments to be stacked on top of a mini-Meijer grocery store — using millions of dollars in Brownfield redevelopment funding and state-sanctioned loans to make it possible.

The project will fill a “food desert” void that has plagued downtown Lansing for years.

“The Capital City Market project will act as a catalyst for future growth and development along the Michigan Avenue corridor while generating greater economic activity for downtown Lansing and benefiting surrounding property values,” added Jeff Mason, president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

The City Council approved a request last year for more than $10 million in tax-increment financing to get the project off the ground given the environmental contamination caused by the former gas station and auto repair shop on the site. The state Department of Environmental Quality also provided Gillespie with two $1 million loans.

The four-story development will cover more than four acres and include both an “urban” Meijer — the second in the state — and 36 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments and a 124-room Courtyard by Mariott hotel. Gillespie said the “gamechanger” of a development absorbed 21 downtown parcels in order to become a reality.

The grocery store, billed under the working moniker “Capital City Market,” will mark Meijer’s second departure from its traditional storefronts to a 37000-square-foot “urban market” concept that mirrors that of the Bridge Street Market, which opened last year in downtown Grand Rapids. It includes a 20-year lease agreement.

Gillespie said he expects the development to be fully operational by late 2020. About 25 to 30 jobs are expected to be created at the grocery store. A “fair amount” of staff will also be required to operate the hotel and another couple employees will help staff the apartment complex, he said. Gillespie also committed to using local labor.

Details released today show the project will include 298 parking spaces and a grocery market (less than 200 steps from the Cooley Law School Stadium) with eight to 10 traditional aisles. It’ll be open everyday from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

“We are proud to be a partner in this endeavor,” added Lansing Mayor Andy Schor. “This is truly exciting. This is transformational for our downtown, for our Stadium District. I don’t think a day goes by without somebody mentioning this to me or me mentioning it to them.”

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