MSUFCU Submits Plans for Downtown Office Tower – Including One Huge Brick Wall

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MSUFCU's proposed building seen looking northwest, across Abbot Road and Albert Ave. (as if standing where the tattoo parlor is).

Michigan State University Federal Credit Union has now submitted its proposal for a 7-story office building just south of Dublin Square, at the northwest corner of Abbot Road and Albert Ave.

There’s not much too surprising to us in this submission. MSUFCU has been quite communicative about its developing plans since the whole process started, responding steadily to all questions.

The one thing that does stand out, though, is the north wall. If built as proposed, Dublin Square sure won’t have much of a view. That side of the building is proposed to be a solid wall of brick-faced concrete, rising up seven stories right next to Dublin Square’s deck.

Here’s the submitted drawing for that, showing what the building would look like if you were driving south down Abbot Rd. toward campus.

Here’s a photo showing the Dublin Square deck in the foreground and The Abbot and the Graduate Hotel (under construction) in the background. What would go between these is a 7-story building with a blank brick wall on this side.

Gary Caldwell for ELi

Photo showing where the building would be constructed: along Abbot Road, between the patio of Dublin Square and the new buildings going up on Grand River Ave.

This kind of windowless façade is a common approach when architects are expecting something equally tall to be built right next door. As of now, though, we have not seen any proposal for redevelopment of the site that currently holds Dublin Square.

Much more pleasant to look at will be the east- and south-facing sides of the new MSUFCU building. Those would be constructed with brick and a lot of glass – clear glass alternating with what is labeled in the plans “green spandrel glass – typical.”

The south side of the proposed building, along Albert Ave., just west of Abbot Rd.

MSUFCU has provided the following rendering to show what the building would look like along Albert Ave. This is looking northeast, as if standing at the back of People’s Church.

If approved and constructed, the first floor of the building will have a branch office of the credit union, replacing the one now next to Peanut Barrel. The entrance will be at the corner of Abbot Road and Albert Ave.

The proposed east side, showing the branch office entrance at the lower left (corner of Abbot Rd. and Albert Ave.).

The first floor will also contain various other service components (a vault, bathrooms, etc.) plus offices and conference rooms. A chunk of the first floor is marked for lease to another entity, with an entrance on Albert Ave.

The second floor has a large “community space” meant for things like presentations and performances.

The third through seventh floors are meant for office, with floors 3, 4 and 5 for the MSUFCU and floors 6 and 7 to be leased out. No tenants have been identified yet for the two top floors.

As expected, there’s no parking designed into the building. The plan would be for drivers coming to this building to use the City’s parking system, including the ramps on Albert Ave., Grove St., and M.A.C. Ave.

The application does not include a traffic study, but rather a “Traffic Impact Statement as directed by the City of East Lansing.” That study anticipates only “100 trips in the AM peak and 93 trips during the PM peak.”

Construction at the site looks like it will be fairly disruptive to a downtown already disrupted for years by big construction. The site is so tight, the credit union is proposing to dedicate one lane of Abbot Road and one lane of Albert Ave. to its construction site.

In the following image, submitted with the plan, these are marked “permanent lane closure,” but what this really means is closure during the period construction. For reference, City Hall is in the upper right of the image, and a corner of Peoples Church is at the lower left.

Construction of buildings of this type typically takes at least a year. The project is expected to be completed in 2022 if all goes as planned from here.

There is some degree of environmental contamination at the site, but rather than asking for a Brownfield Tax Increment Financing (tax incentive) plan, MSUFCU plans to pay for dealing with the contamination as part of their construction costs.

MSUFCU will thus be keeping up its reputation as a major property tax contributor in the City of East Lansing. The activities in the building will also be subject to East Lansing’s income tax, making the project a good thing for the City’s bottom line.

The next step in the process is for Planning Commission to review the application (along with a report from the City’s Planning staff), including holding a public hearing to get feedback on the plans. Planning Commission will then make a recommendation to City Council, which will make the final decision on the project.

The Transportation Commission and Downtown Development Authority will also review the plans and make recommendations.

The building will replace what is now Parking Lot #4 and what used to be part of Albert Avenue. A year ago, voters overwhelmingly approved the sale of the land to MSUFCU for this purpose at the appraised value of $810,000.

View all the materials submitted through this page.

Note: This article was updated with the renderings once they became available, at about 5:15 p.m. on date of publication.

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