Developer proposes entrepreneurial, office space for city-owned downtown East Lansing properties

Megan Banta

Aug 14, 2020

EAST LANSING – A local developer wants to transform a property on the edge of downtown East Lansing into entrepreneurial and office space.

River Caddis Development has offered to buy a property at the corner of Evergreen Avenue and Albert Street at the edge of downtown from the city's Downtown Development Authority for $5.5 million.

EAST LANSING – A local developer wants to transform a property on the edge of downtown East Lansing into entrepreneurial and office space.

River Caddis Development has offered to buy a property at the corner of Evergreen Avenue and Albert Street at the edge of downtown from the city's Downtown Development Authority for $5.5 million.

The East Lansing-based developer plans to invest millions in the property to build a 112-foot-tall office building with space for tenants and collaboration that it's calling the Central Innovation, Technology and Arts District of East Lansing – CITADEL, for short.

A rendering of River Caddis Development's proposal for the Central Innovation Technology and Arts District of East Lansing
The proposal also would help the city pay off its $5.5 million debt on the property.

Officials canceled a meeting where the developer would have presented plans after the city declared a local state of emergency because of the coronavirus update, but the city still plans to consider the proposal.

"We will reschedule as soon as it is practical," said Tom Fehrenbach, the city's director of planning, building and development.

City searching for a developer since 2009
City officials have been searching for a developer for years after buying the property for a little more than $5 million in 2009.

The East Lansing Downtown Development Authority owns several properties along Evergreen Avenue. The group is trying to sell the property to developers.
They upped their efforts last year after the bank started calling in larger debt payments.

More:East Lansing officials trying, again, to find a developer for downtown properties

Two developers responded to a request for proposals the city issued in November after turning down a proposal from Vlahakis Development and Royal Properties in October.

Both developers – Convexity Properties and River Caddis Development – offered to buy the four parcels totaling 1.082 acres from the city's Downtown Development Authority and estimated they would invest millions to transform the site.

Convexity has since withdrawn its proposal.

That leaves the CITADEL proposal from River Caddis, an East Lansing-based developer.

Overall investment of $129.5M
According to a letter of intent from the developer, the objective of the proposal is "to connect people, place and community in one structure through a joint approach."

River Caddis describes CITADEL as "a district, a place, an idea" and says the building would be just the first phase.

A rendering of River Caddis Development's proposal for the Central Innovation Technology and Arts District of East Lansing
"It will provide opportunity for the downtown area to be open to business to business companies, as well as a ground floor activated by commercial and restaurants that increases the presence in an area of the city not known for heavy foot traffic," the proposal says.

The developer has proposed:

Office space
Structured parking with 250 spaces, including spaces for electric vehicles and bike and scooter parking
Restaurant space
Food/beverage experiences
An alley transformed into public space with art
A two-level lobby that can be reconfigured
The CITADEL would be more than 350,000 square feet in total — a 252,600-square-foot building with 113,100 square feet of parking.

River Caddis estimates it will invest $129.5 million overall in the property, including $85 million in building costs and $5.5 million for the land.

A rendering of River Caddis Development's proposal for the Central Innovation Technology and Arts District of East Lansing
The developer's proposal includes letters of support from:

Lansing Economic Area Partnership
Delta Dental
Michigan State University Federal Credit Union, which plans to build an 8-story building on the property directly to the east
Ameresco in partnership with Urban Campus & Core