Center City District bond and TIF update // Alice Dreger

There’s good financial news emerging on the Center City District project — the strict cost-control measures put in place by now-Mayor Ruth Beier and her colleagues on Council in 2017 turn out to be stricter than we had realized. In 2017, the TIF was effectively reduced by Council from a $56M cap to a $50M cap!

Combined with the new valuation method from tax assessor David Lee for big apartment buildings, this means that the Center City TIF will pay off years earlier than … Read more →

We Were Outgunned // Alice Dreger

What happened at the BRA yesterday?  ELi has my report up , but I would sum it up this way:

We were outgunned. And we were paying for the other side’s weapons.

What my reporting team saw yesterday is what we see at so many meetings. People representing our side – in this case, BRA members Jim Croom, Jeff Smith, and Aaron Stephens – ask really reasonable questions and express reasonable skepticism. 

But then, in the end, they vote “yes” without adequate protections for us. In the fog of … Read more →

Letter to the Brownfield Development Authority // Alice Dreger

I have steadily reported for East Lansing Info on the Center City District project from the day it was introduced, on many occasions with my colleague Chris Root. We have spent a lot of time using FOIA to document what has happened (and not happened) with regard to the public financing of this project.  Today I sent the attached letter (below) to the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority about their meeting which happens tomorrow (Thursday, July 9) at noon. I share it with readers of Public Response … Read more →

East Lansing City Bond Attorney // Eliot Singer

I see  in ELi  that some members of Council are (finally) questioning the continued use of the bond attorney. I would add, they also need to get rid of Baird as the city’s bond agent.

Better yet, time to stop allowing DDA/BRA to issue bonds and to stop allowing the city to issue bonds unless approved by voters. Just a reminder, the DPW building was built without voter-approved bonds (with cost overrun) after voters were promised, in approving sale of the old building, there would be no … Read more →

Will the Chappelle Indictment Change City Hall? // Alice Dreger

It’s painful that Jim Cuddeback, the founder of Public Response, is not alive to read  the news  that real estate developer Scott Chappelle has been indicted for tax and bank fraud. When it was impossible for citizen watchdogs to convince any local news organization to report the truth about Chappelle’s history, Public Response provided the space to educate the community.

Eliot Singer, above all, worked doggedly to track and expose what was really going on with the developer with whom the City was looking to partner … Read more →

Selling and redeveloping city’s Evergreen properties is not financially necessary // Eliot Singer

Three of the EverGreen properties

With a new Council and an apparent willingness to look beyond the DDA for solutions to the Evergreen properties quagmire, I am going to revive my analysis from several years ago that it is not financially imperative to sell and redevelop the city’s Evergreen properties, which were originally bought with the intent of tearing them down and replacing with a massive parking garage.

Recall that the properties were bought 10 years ago for more than 3 times their assessed market value, at a time … Read more →

Albert Ave. // Alice Dreger

When the Center City District project was pitched, the idea was to institute a “woonerf” on Albert Ave. between About Road and MAC Ave. A woonerf is a European street style that has no markings and slopes from storefronts – basically there are no sidewalks, no lines, no lanes. In Europe, these are usually old-fashioned cobbled roads and everyone goes slowly on them. They’re not very welcoming to cars unless drivers are willing to go very slowly, and the visual cues tell drivers to … Read more →

The Quest for Answers on the Center City Ground Lease Payments // Alice Dreger

East Lansing’s City Council voted on Tuesday night to clarify the Center City District ground lease deal so the City can finally start getting paid for use of the public land. I explain the details of the deal in a  new report   up today at ELi . 

Readers of Public Response are often interested in the backstories of major stories, so I wanted to make sure you note you have the opportunity to see my correspondence with city officials and the developers in terms of trying … Read more →

The DDA’s Evergreen Avenue Debt: It’s Time to Think Creatively // Alice Dreger

Three of the EverGreen properties

Tomorrow night, Sept. 10, City Council will take up the question of whether to permanently rezone the DDA’s Evergreen Avenue properties (314-344 Evergreen on the east side) to B3. In a report published today at ELi, I explain what that would mean and list what are seen as the pros and cons of this rezoning: 

https://eastlansinginfo.org/content/rezone-big-redevelopment-near-park-complicated-question-coming-council

As a lot of Public Response readers know, these properties carry about $5.6 million in debt, a debt for with City taxpayers are ultimately responsible. 

That debt … Read more →

Mourning Loss of Mackerel Sky // Eliot Singer

Mackerel Sky - East Lansing - Street Shot

I was saddened to see that Mackerel Sky will be closing, after celebrating 30 years. I met Tom and Linda in 1980, right after we first moved to Michigan, when they were co-owners of Brother Gambit, back when downtown East Lansing had a vibrant small, locally-owned, business community, which we regularly patronized, despite, at the time, living in west Lansing. There was still such a community, as well as vibrant historic neighborhoods and the top local school system, when we chose to buy a … Read more →

DON’T MISS OUT!
Get notified when a new PR essay is published:
Subscribe Now
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.
close-link
Send this to a friend