The Lansing City Council Thursday agreed to move forward on a partnership with a private developer for road and sewer improvements at a site on the city’s north end.
The council had heard about the proposed benefit district at Eisenhower Crossing several times, most recently at a Dec. 13 work session. Under the agreement, the council would pay about $250,000 to extend Kane Drive and about $200,000 for the sanitary sewer upgrades needed to handle additional capacity from a $25 million multi-phase development that the current owners of the land say is in the works. In total the city would bear roughly 47 percent of the total costs of those improvements, with the developers paying the remaining 52 percent. In order to pay their share, the city will have to first issue short-term temporary notes, then 15-year bonds.
City legal counsel Neil Shortligde said the only thing new this time was some revisions to language in the part of the process up for the council’s consideration — the resolution of advisability — that relates to a second resolution that will be needed to finalize the district.
“We just wanted to make sure with that addition that it’s perfectly clear that nothing is going to happen until that second resolution is passed,” he said.
Councilwoman Andi Pawlowski said she wanted to make sure that the city was protected from paying their share of the improvements only to have the current owners, whose stated plan is to sell the land to another developer for the construction of the project, only build a portion of the full project or stretch the full build-out over a number of years.
“My concern is that we’re going to spend a lot of money to fix this problem downstream and
we’re not going to see any revenue off of it for a long time,” she said, adding later, “what’s tying them to doing the whole development?”
City Economic Development Director Nolan Sunderman said if the developers decide to change the plan, they would have to bring it before the city as a new development plan. Shortlidge said the council would have to approve a final development plan before issuing building permits, and the second of the two resolutions setting up the benefit district is tied to the issuance of those permits.
Timothy Klink, the legal counsel for the current land owners, said by the time that the building permits are issued and the benefit district finalized, the developers will have invested a significant amount of money for the project.
“Developing this site is not feasible right now with the sewer the way it is,” he said. “It’s not until these items are taken care of that there’s going to be any development on that property.”
That resolution passed, 6-1, with Pawlowski opposed. The council also approved another document drafted for the project — a site agreement that Sunderman said is meant to further protect the city as they help this development, especially because unlike other benefit districts, this one will not go into effect immediately.
Page 2 of 2 - “Because we’re breaking those up, we want to put a trigger in place so that the council’s aware, the developer’s aware and any future developer’s aware of the trigger that must take place for those improvements to be constructed,” he said.