EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — An affordable housing development could go up in the heart of Spartan County, but not everyone wants to see it greenlit.
It was standing room only at the meeting Wednesday evening where East Lansing heard more about the five-story mixed use building.
Developers say they’re filling a need for more housing, but some people believe it will do more harm than good for downtown.
“You know, what are my guests going to get out of it? They’ll get a longer walk, and there will be no additional reason for them to visit East Lansing,” said Al Bay, owner of the Wild Goose Inn.
Bay’s Wild Goose Inn has called Albert Street in East Lansing home since it opened more than 20 years ago. The small bed and breakfast sits next door to the proposed site of a five-story affordable housing building.
The building by American Community Developers is set to have more than 120 units, with a section of commercial space on the first floor. The proposal submitted to the city shows initial rent is expected to range between $930 to $1,195 per month.
The building will also take up the portion of the Baily surface parking lot that is privately owned.
City officials say the owners of that part of the lot are in an agreement with the city that could be terminated if the development moves forward.
ACD Vice President Chris Young says the project is expected to fill a need for a more budget-friendly place to live in the area.
“In the United States, there’s a huge need for affordable housing, and in the city of East Lansing, there’s a need,” Young said. “There’s a lot of people that are cost burden, and it will help the work force”.
Young says the property owner came to the developers instead of opting for other proposals. He adds that the rent is the max amount they can charge within Housing and Urban Development standards.
Before becoming reality, the project needs approval from the East Lansing Planning Committee.
Answering questions from that committee, Young says students, including graduate students, would not be allowed to live there — in order for it to still be considered affordable housing.
Both residents and business owners in the area say while the intention is good, they’re skeptical of rent prices and say the project might make it harder for people to park and shop downtown.
“When you get rid of that ramp, you’re done. The 500 block is done,” said Sally Potter, who spoke at the meeting.
A few people spoke in support of the project saying there’s benefit for business and people.
“If we want to try and obtain a more balance in our community, enable our businesses to endure the ups and downs of the university calendar, we have to be open for these opportunities,” said Nathan Warner during his public comment.
Wednesday’s meeting is only a part of the process before any shovels dig in.
The East Lansing Planning Commission is set to come back for a final decision in two weeks. If developers are given the green light, construction could start by 2024.