Pandemic Stalls Construction – But The Abbot Lands a Retail Tenant

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Above: Looking out from the interior of “The Abbot” during the topping-off tour in January (photo by Raymond Holt)

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “stay at home” order made no exception for general commercial construction, and the result is that work has now mostly stopped on The Abbot and The Graduate Hotel in downtown East Lansing.

“The State’s notification left little time to cycle down a large construction project,” Chris Oakley told ELi by email yesterday. Oakley is Director of Design for Convexity, DRW’s development partner in the project at the northwest corner of Abbot Road and Grand River Avenue.

Shutting down a major construction site is no simple feat.

“Efforts needed to properly secure the site may have extended beyond the deadline but are/were necessary for public safety,” said Oakley.

One type of construction was exempted — the work the developers are doing to build new public infrastructure for the City of East Lansing according to the project’s development agreement. Says Oakley, “some of that work may happen during the shutdown.”

The good news is that the developers have secured a retail tenant for the first floor of The Abbot: a Walgreens pharmacy.

The other promising news is that, according to Oakley, “With additional efforts, we can absorb the current shutdown duration in our delivery schedule for both apartment and ground level tenants, which is critical. Housing and the pharmacy associated with our ground level tenant (Walgreens) are both essential and date critical.”

The apartments at The Abbot are about 95 percent leased, with occupancy slated to start in summer.

The Graduate Hotel next door has been set to open several months after The Abbot and appears to be less “date critical.”

The shutdown order has also been tough on existing businesses around East Lansing. The City announced Wednesday that it is launching a survey of businesses to try to get the word out to customers about how they can support local businesses.

Yesterday, the City announced that the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is providing 60 “working capital grants” worth $10,000 “to Michigan-owned small businesses in the tri-county region, including East Lansing businesses.”

ELi has a special section dedicated to our reporting on COVID-19 for East Lansing. See it here and sign up for ELi’s mailer to stay informed

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