July 28, 2012
To make an old building new again takes time.
But time, as it relates to redevelopment of the former J.W. Knapp’s Department Store in downtown Lansing, is moving a little faster after the building languished for years.
Meridian Township-based Eyde Co., which is repurposing the aging art deco building it owns at the corner of Washington Square and Washtenaw Street, is wrapping up asbestos removal and is expected to seek construction bids within a matter of weeks.
The developer should close on a financing package that includes a $5.9 million federal loan by the third week of September, said Mark Clouse, Eyde’s chief financial officer and general counsel. Should that happen — and Clouse said he doesn’t have reason to believe the deal won’t go through — construction could wrap within 12 to 16 months.
The company wants some portion of the building, to be known as Knapp’s Centre, to include five floors of retail, office space and residential units and be ready for tenants in a year.
“We are excited about the building,” Clouse said. “It has withstood time relatively well.”
The $36 million project at South Washington Square and Washtenaw Street is one of the most high-profile redevelopment efforts under way in downtown Lansing. The building has been vacant since 2002.
The project is funded in part through a federal loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that allows the city to borrow an increased amount from its Community Development Block Grant award, also a HUD program, and repay it over 20 years.
When it’s done, the building should include retail space on the first floor and a mezzanine level, offices on upper levels and about 22 residential units on the fifth floor. Apartments are expected to be mostly two bedrooms and 900 to 1,200 square feet, he said. They could cost upward of $1,000, but final decisions should be made closer to occupancy depending on market conditions.
Perhaps the most dramatic change will be the creation of a four-story atrium that stretches from the second to the fifth floors. A series of pedestrian bridges will connect the upper floors, and structural testing is under way to find the safest way to carve it out.
Eyde Co. will relocate its headquarters back to the Knapp’s building, in which it hasn’t been housed for years, and a small-business incubator will set up shop on the first floor, Clouse said.
Until six months ago, underground parking was incorporated into the site plan. Since then, he said, load-bearing concrete columns set about 18 feet apart have become an obstacle.
Parking for Knapp’s now will be through the city’s system, including on-street metered parking and spaces in nearby ramps. Clouse said the goal is to work out a discounted rate for residents to park overnight in city garages.