East Lansing Seeks Lawyers, and More Lawyers, and a Financial Advisor

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The Mary Sharpe sculpture outside East Lansing's City Hall.

The City of East Lansing is running three simultaneous searches for outside experts to help with major legal and financial issues.

On Thursday, the City released a “Request for Qualifications/Proposals” (RFQP) for “city attorney services.”

That’s because, on July 14, a 3-2 majority of Council voted to terminate the contract of City Attorney Tom Yeadon effective October 1. (Yeadon’s firm has held a lock on that contractual work for over 60 years.) At the following meeting, on July 20, the Council approved the RFQP for city attorney services.

According to the call for applications, “The contract to provide city attorney services will be awarded to the law firm that is determined to be most responsive to meeting the needs of City Council, East Lansing residents and East Lansing city government. The awarded contract will be for one year, with the option to renew after the first year of the contract.”

The deadline for applications is August 21 at 4 p.m., with no late submissions considered.

Meanwhile, the City has extended the deadline for attorneys to apply to provide special legal services to East Lansing’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (BRA).

The DDA (which has the same membership as the BRA) was expected to have voted on applicants at yesterday’s meeting, but only a couple of applications came in. So, the deadline for that has been extended to 1 p.m. on August 4.

According to a press release on the matter, “The legal services sought by the DDA and BRA will supplement the services currently provided by East Lansing’s city attorney, primarily on real estate development and transactional matters. Only licensed attorneys or law firms with licensed attorneys that practice law and maintain an office in Michigan will be considered.”

The DDA is facing another complex redevelopment deal as it seeks to unload its Evergreen Avenue properties, saddled with over $5 million in debt. River Caddis Development is trying to work up a viable proposal for an office building at that location.

At Thursday’s meeting of the DDA, the DDA voted to extend an exclusive agreement with River Caddis another three months to see if a deal can be worked out. The DDA hopes to have special counsel by then.

More urgently, the BRA is facing the sticky question of how to manage the refinancing of the bond for the Center City District project. Related to that, City staff are currently soliciting applications for an independent financial advisor to serve the BRA.

The BRA had gone into discussions of the refinance with no financial advisor, at first voting to follow the recommendations of the developer’s advisor and soon after rescinding that vote.

According to the press release on that RFQP, “The selected municipal advisor will represent and advise the BRA on the marketing, issuance and delivery of its proposed” Center City refunding bonds “and other related bond financing matters.”

Deadline for that is 1 p.m. on August 5.

The BRA is also likely to consult with the new attorney or law firm they are seeking about the differences that have emerged in how to interpret the Development Agreement and various Council resolutions governing the refinancing bond.

ELi has also reported this week that Council is currently seeking applicants for the two vacant Council positions left by the resignations of Ruth Beier and Mark Meadows. The deadline for that is Monday, July 27.

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