More Student Apartments on the Northern Tier? Plus Answers to Other Reader Questions!

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We are always happy to work to answer your East Lansing-area questions as part of our Ask ELi to Investigate public service news reporting! Here are answers to some questions that have arrived in the last few days via our contact form.

Reader question: “A large area on the east side of Abbot Road south of the Aquatic Center entrance was cleared over the past two weeks. Can you find out what this new development will be? If it is more apartments, could you find out and report what the occupancy rate is for the existing apartment complexes on Abbot Road in East Lansing?”

Answer: This new development will not consist of another student-attracting apartment complex. As ELi reported back in January, this development by Provision Living will consist of a senior housing complex, including an assisted living and memory care building, a four-story independent-living apartment building, and independent-living private villas. Learn more in this article by Chris Gray for ELi.

Incidentally, readers often ask us to find out occupancy rates for various projects, but the occupancy levels of private projects are not available to us unless a landlord wants to give up that information, which they rarely do. (We can find out how many people a given unit is licensed for via public records, but not whether a given unit is rented.)

Reader question: “Thank you for the information on the lane reduction on Abbot Road, between Saginaw and Lake Lansing Road.” (That was here.) “Years ago, the City Council approved the reduction of lanes, with the addition of bike lanes and a median lane, for Harrison Rd. and Coolidge Rd. This vote was taken after a recommendation by the Transportation Commission at the time. Harrison Road was reconfigured after it was repaved a few years back. There has been no reconfiguration on Coolidge. Was this decision reversed, set aside (for repaving, etc.) or forgotten?”

Answer: We asked Scott House, Director of Public Works, what’s up with this. He responded that the plan is now to convert Coolidge Road from 4 car lanes to 3 car lanes plus 2 bike lanes in 2023.

“This will be a federal aid project funded by the Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) for the bike lanes and the Surface Transportation Program (STP) for the street,” explained House. He says the plan will be brought to East Lansing’s Transportation Commission and City Council “before final design and validation.”

Reader Question: This one is about the Center City District deal with Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors and Ballein Management and those developers’ claim that they can rent as much as 20 percent of the Newman Lofts apartments to people under age 55. We are getting a lot of questions like this one.

“…if in the master [development] agreement the city and Harbor Bay signed is going off of the FHA of older persons act, are they not in compliance with what they are supposed to be following? I do know that the City of EL has in their local zoning laws that it does have to be 100% 55 and up, but would the federal law supersede the local law?”

Answer: The federal law sets a minimum of what’s required for a 55+ project, and local folks can’t do less than the federal law requires. However, the City of East Lansing could set a higher requirement than federal law for this deal in terms of number of units required to be age-restricted, and that’s what they did in the agreements signed by the developers and in the local governing law, Ordinance 1384. Read more in this article by ELi’s Andrew Graham.

Also in the mailbag – not a question – but this positive feedback about ELi’s coverage of the eight school board candidates:

“I read the written responses from candidates, and then listened to portions (sometimes all) of the Zoom interviews. Thank you for these chances to make more informed decisions. Thanks especially to the interviewers for whom this was time-consuming and (perhaps a little) tiring.”

Thanks to the reader for checking out the written responses to ELi’s questions and also the videotaped interviews conducted by ELi reporter Emily Joan Elliott and local pediatrician Dr. Jane Turner. We do bring this kind of reporting specifically to help inform your vote!

Note that you may also want to check out Emily’s report on local voting options.

Want to reach us with your questions? Use our contact form. Love our service answering your questions?

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