The Lansing City Council narrowly approved a timeline extension Thursday night for the developers of the Eisenhower Crossing site.
The extension, approved 5-3 with Councilmen Don Studnicka and Jesse Garvey and Councilwoman Andi Pawlowski opposed, gives CBC Real Estate Group until Jan. 1, 2014, to begin construction on a project at the site or face paying back $6,750 the city gave to them in August 2011 to complete a market study to judge the feasibility of a long-term care facility there. The study is complete and shows such a facility is feasible, according to the city's economic development director, Nolan Sunderman.
“We've used it for other projects as well,” he said, as a marketing tool for the city.
Under the original agreement, the city split the costs of the study with the Leavenworth County Port Authority, but included a clawback provision if construction did not begin within 18 months of the study's completion. Studnicka asked why the council not hold the developers to that time period.
“The six months is up, there's no action, now they're asking for another six months,” he said.
Mayor Billy Blackwell said the reason for the extension is to give CBC additional time to finalize an agreement with one of the companies it's in talks with.
“They've had several prospects, but nothing they could get locked in,” he said.
Blackwell also said that making the company pay back the sum offered for the study could cool their efforts to find a partner to build on the property.
“At the end of the day from the council's perspective, I think we'd rather see a multi-million-dollar development take place that has a lot of long-term impact than try to recoup the short-term funds,” Sunderman said.
And Blackwell said the extension does not leave the council without options in the future if the project is still stuck.
“If we do extend this period for another six months, that doesn't mean that we can't come back in another six months and request the money at that time if no progress has been made,” he said.