In a five acre site at the corner of Grand River Ave. and Abbot Rd. in East Lansing, immediately across the street from Michigan State University’s Abbot Rd. entrance, developers are proposing to put in five buildings with multiple uses.The applicant is proposing to demolish the buildings at 100, 124, 128, 130, 136, and 140 West Grand River Avenue and 303 Abbot Road to construct a ten-story, mixed-use building.The city of East Lansing recently approved an amendment that only requires 50% majority vote to sell city land, which would make future plans easier to execute. Local businesses want this intersection to be the beginning of the downtown area, instead it has become the “beginning and the end” of downtown East Lansing.
Connecting Community at MSU
Author: Katherine Bouma
While East Lansing is a university town, it lacks the sense of community like Atlanta, one of the top university cities in the world. At Georgia Tech, strong partnerships are built between the surrounding industry, government, and businesses and the university. An inclusive environment between students and community is apparent and this university produces the most of engineers of any university. By incorporating 100 centers for interdisciplinary research and collaborative student centers, its students are equipped for a better world view. upon graduating. These key connections are not apparent in the MSU community. A seemingly impassable barrier of streets like Michigan Avenue and Grand River exists to create almost two separate communities. East Lansing's government has made it quite clear: the university is its own entity and residents of East Lansing are not meant to be intertwined with the university culture. There is much debate as to what will be made of the Grand River/ Abbott intersection. Instead of contributing to this separate culture within the city, this project can be the beginning of a better-connected community. W,Y,X architects have proposed a unique way of connecting the community. A proposed "loop" between Grand River, Michigan Avenue, and the River Trail will be able to connect residents and university life and vice versa. The proposed project could be used to be a starting place or connecting point in this loop with inclusive community businesses and student centers. By creating a physical path, less resistance is in place of bridging the gap between students, staff and residents in the community. By connecting all stakeholders, paths can be crossed, both physically and creatively to exchange ideas about a more encompassing sense of community.
Economic and social stimulation through social scene
Author: Garrett Brown
In East Lansing, economic stimulation is provided by the massive student population of over 50,000. The fact that East Lansing isn’t creating ideas revolved around promoting both economic and social stimulation through the student population is mind boggling. With the Park District/Grand River and Abbott project East Lansing is once again failing to realize the steps they need to take to create a project which benefits East Lansing on all facets. Developing buildings for mixed uses such as a hotel or creating even more apartments is a step in the wrong direction. Looking at the project’s location, it is right next to the hot spot bars and clubs. However, East Lansing has a very weak bar and club scene compared to other college towns around the United States. By using this prime location to instead create an 18 and over club, economic and social stimulation will be increased far more than any other use of this space. As college students are over 18, providing a club for every student to be able to attend would be beyond optimal. Clubs generate a great deal of money in revenue, which will provide East Lansing with more than enough in taxes to put to new projects. In addition, the club would be right along Grand River which is home to an extensive amount of food chains which would benefit heavily as well. Lastly, this club would include TV’s all around, so it would be a popular spot during the week as well as the weekend.
Author: Isabella Hewitt
Principle: Adaptable Spaces
The Park District lies in a key location to both MSU and East Lansing. A large plot of land located between many restaurants and campus, this is would be perfect to create a cultural gathering point for both students and residents. While there can be apartments and stores built, it would be interesting that if on the back end (towards Albert) there was an open courtyard that housed a restaurant. I spent the last six months in Budapest, Hungary, where they have this thing called ruin bars that are a sort of bar with tons of art pieces but during the day they are a farmers market, preschool, and cultural gathering point. If in the back of this development there was an indoor/outdoor restaurant created that also allowed for public pieces of art and local activities that brought both college students and families together, it would serve as an area to bridge the divide. Below is a picture of one of these places in Budapest and while I do not think America or East Lansing is ready for something quite like this, drawing certain principles such as art, connectivity, and different cultures, are key takeaways to create a better space in the Park District that we can be sure will be utilized.
Author: Brendan Carney
In most cities, East Lansing to be included, alleyways have the singular use to businesses to me utilized for deliveries and discarding waste. They are considered dark and dreary by most and avoided at all costs. However, the incorporation of street art in alleyways can open these dead spaces up to foot traffic. These spaces should not be unused and should be creative, well lite, spaces for artists to show off their art work. This creates a more comforting area and connects the different businesses to the community.
In 1986 the City of Philadelphia Mural and Arts Program was established by Jane Golden, a local artist, as part of an anti-graffiti campaign. The goal of the campaign was to facilitate the collaboration of local artists with prosecuted graffiti vandals to create murals around the city. Each year 50-100 murals are created and restored throughout the community. Community groups educate children in art and involve them in the creation of these murals.
Making Our Streets Safer for Everyone
Author: Kendra Hungerford
Principle: Multi-modal Transportation
Walking links together virtually every trip that we take. So why is it that there seems to be such little focus on making cities more walkable for its citizens? East Lansing, being a college town, needs to maximize walking as a primary mode of transportation, alongside driving and biking. They should focus less on making the roadways less congested, and more on expanding and reinforcing mode choice, improving walkability. Ninety-five percent of people who live in the Lansing area stated that improvement in walkability is a change that they would like to see made where they live.
Grand River generates hustle and bustle on a daily basis, causing a constant flow of traffic running directly between Michigan State’s campus and residential East Lansing, making it virtually impossible to travel safely and efficiently by bike or by foot. In order to create a truly successful and efficient development, the area should be accessible by multiple forms of transportation. By creating separate lanes for driving, biking, and walking alike, it will make streets less congested, therefore allowing all three types of traffic to move at a much more efficient pace. These separate lanes will also make travel safer for all involved because it would reduce the amount of interaction between drivers, walkers, and bikers.
Parking for Valley Court and the Church
Author: Marilyn Hecht
Principle: Safe Parking
Through interactions in the community, I’ve noticed a large number of people use the Valley Court Park with their children and many people attend church through The People’s Church in East Lansing. With current plans, the development will destroy parking space for the church and the parkway. Instead of only creating parking for condo residents, they should create another level on the condo on the corner of Evergreen and Valley Court to allow parking for these community events. It could also be similar to the parking on MSU’s campus as there are certain hours people cannot park there, but that way the community can still be involved in the area if they are far away.
Green Space Proposal
Author: Gejsi Rada
Principle: Go Better Green
With the recent tearing down of the old dilapidated building on the corner of Grand River and Abbott, the amount of space in East Lansing has suddenly opened up, and possibilities of what to do with it are endless. While campus has several areas for students and citizens to connect, East Lansing really deprives the people of such an area. A public “green space” with benches and trees would really integrate the beauty that is present on campus, with what could be available with the space availability in the city of EL. Generally crowded with apartment buildings and restaurants offering a quick cheap meal, it would be refreshing to give this area back to the people and use it in such a way that would bring them together while engaging with nature.
Offering a Seat in Downtown East Lansing
Author: Kate Den Houter
Principle: Placemaking and Community Engagement
Over the last several decades, many cities have either chosen to remove or not even incorporate seating into their urban areas. Several of these cities have chosen to remove seating in a fight against the hordes of homeless people that have taken up residence in these urban spaces. However, a lack of seating has been found to have an adverse effect for these cities and their local communities. “The absence of seating is just one way to exclude people from places” (Arieff, 2017). East Lansing like many of these cities is severely lacking when it comes to the amenity of public seating. While some downtown areas choose to incorporate benches, outdoor restaurant seating, or even community parks/squares with moveable seating, you would struggle to find adequate seating areas in Downtown East Lansing.
Allowing residents and students a place to sit when visiting the downtown area creates a stronger sense of community and strengthens the bonds with the area. East Lansing is currently in a period of reconstruction. Several projects are being proposed to redesign the town. One of these projects is the Park District/Grand River and Abbott. However, it has been said that the developer for this area has chosen to walk away from the project, meaning that the plot of land is up for grabs. The Grand River and Abbott Location would be a perfect location for a community square with mass amounts of seating to accommodate residents and the local university community. Ultimately, the choice to incorporate seating areas in Downtown East Lansing would be an easy, simple, and relatively cheap way to strengthen community ties with the Downtown area.
Source: Arieff, A. (2017, October 20). Designing a More Inclusive City. The New York Times. Retrieved from: https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/10/20/opinion/designing-inclusive-cities.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share&referer=https://t.co/pzBpyGxdvE?amp=1
Author: Marilyn Hecht
Principle: Connection with Nature
With the recent demolition of the old buildings at Grand River Ave and Abbot, the space seems vacant and open before the new construction begins. The current builder has now dropped from the plans, but if a new building is to be put up, it would be beneficial to create a little courtyard or garden space between that building and the courtyard of the People’s Church of East Lansing. This green space will help connect the new modern building with nature while letting the community have a beautiful space to walk in between the buildings. Thus providing a center to make connections. This will also provide a space for children to play and other families to spend time among the college student community. If the developer does not implement this in the blueprint, I think the city of East Lansing should require this of the reconstruction to allow the gap between families and college students to be decreased.
Creating an Interactive Environment
Author: Benjamin Roth
Principle: Connectivity and Shared Culture
Grand River Ave provides a natural barrier between the city of East Lansing and MSU's campus. The university tends to look inward for planning, seeing itself as a 'walled garden,' theoretically offering everything within its boundaries. The city tends to distance itself from the university, too, when devising economic, residential, and aspirational policy. In both of these cases, those in charge of decision making are committing a fatal error- neither of these bodies exist separately from the other, and, in fact, their shared purpose is the entire reason either exists in the first place. Instead of NIMBY-style rent policies, which incentivize consolidation and higher prices, the city should embrace its status as a college town and seek to expound the positives (rather than running from the negatives). A huge step in the right direction can come at the blank slate that is the Grand River and Abbot development area. This location is located conveniently central to both the city and the university, and using the space to provide something other than an area for public interaction would be criminal. Instead of having soulless retail chains or fast-casual restaurants littering the facade, we can use this space for a park with benches and fountains, or as a multi-use place for outdoor concerts, festivals, movie screenings, bookstores, and coffee shops. Regardless of what is put in this space, we must realize that environments that expound sociability are mutually beneficial to both the university and the city. Public space would qualify as an investment in both.
Community Involvement Increases Satisfaction
Author: Kelsey Storemski
Principle: Community Involvement
The Grand River and Abbott Park District development plans have been thwarted multiple times, which has caused a lot of financial distress and tension within the city. The old and crumbling buildings on the lot have recently been destroyed and are now a pile of concrete and dirt that is surrounded by a wall of aggressive metal fencing. It has left East Lansing in a half-empty state of despair that creates anxiety and sadness for its residence. New development plans have once again fallen through due to several issues that have occurred during the development process. City council has failed to include the community of East Lansing in the planning process and has continuously tried to sign on plans for large, expensive, and utopian projects. The city has been afraid to invest a substantial amount of money into these plans because they are expensive and have shafted much of the responsibility onto developers that do not have the available capital and lack thorough understanding of East Lansing’s design and culture. Because of the city’s approach to these plans, they have made little effort to improve the lengthy approval process for new ideas and did not do their due diligence to communicate and negotiate the specific details of the development, which led to a bullwhip effect on problems.
The city council of East Lansing must change their approach to this approval process by involving the community’s thoughts into its approval process. It has been proven that city’s that communicate with others in the community on city planning have a higher sense of pride and satisfaction within their city. There is also a greater chance of inclusiveness when it comes to diverse demographics within the city because the whole community is taken into consideration. An open conversation with residents needs to be created, and their input needs to be taken seriously. East Lansing is filled with intelligent persons that have a lot to say about where they live, and they have a great understanding of what their city needs. The community should have a say in what kind of projects should be implemented, how the city should finance these plans, and who can be trusted to develop these ideas. Public opinion can be analyzed with public surveys, open meetings, online voting, and increased awareness through advertising.
Designated Space for Community Self-Expression
Author: Suzanna Smentowski
It seems like most of the construction projects that are popping up in the East Lansing area are all residential and high-end apartment-style housing. While the city is changing to accommodate more people, not much has changed to create places for the people to be creative and be involved in the placemaking of a city. Grand River and Abbott is planned to be the newly designed center of East Lansing, so it seems appropriate to merge the construction of newly developed space with a designated space the people can use for self-expression. This project plan mentions that there would be a public plaza on the corner of Abbott and Grand River. I think this would be the perfect spot to allow for people to create a place they can enjoy. If done well, this space could turn into several different examples of placemaking. It could become a site for public art projects – where artists could paint or chalk up sidewalks and graffiti walls. It could become an area for people to sit and relax, eat lunch, or read a book. Much like the rock on MSU’s campus, this space would give people the opportunity to express themselves, get creative, or send a message. It could bring a community together and would exemplify the creativity of a city as the art within the space would always be changing.
East Lansing Cultural Center
Author: Suzanna Smentowski
Principle: Bringing Culture over the Lines
Michigan State University draws students in from all over the country and all over the world. Over half of these students live in off-campus housing, contributing to the cultural makeup of the city of East Lansing. In addition to the cultural makeup of the university, Lansing and East Lansing have quite a few prominent cultural communities in their makeup. While MSU’s campus offers space and resources for international students to feel more comfortable at the university, it would be fitting for the city of East Lansing to create a cultural center that would promote the different cultures that make up the city’s demographics. The center could be incorporated into the development plans for the Grand River and Abbott development. A cultural center in the city would not only help people of different backgrounds feel more comfortable in the city they live in, but it would be an opportunity for the community to learn more about itself. This space could host cultural events that would allow East Lansing residents to meet their neighbors while learning about them and other parts of the world. This center would not be limited to any particular group of people like the Islamic Center of East Lansing or the Nokomis Learning Center (a Native American culture center) in Lansing. Instead, it would serve as a safe space within the community for people to learn about each other.
Adaptability, Affordability, and Smart Growth
Author: Kelsey Storemski
Principle: Smart Growth
Grand River and Abbott’s Park District is in desperate need of a development plan that is realistic to what the city can afford. The recent project for development on this lot ultimately fell apart because the plan was too expensive for the city and its developers to afford. City Council needs to realize that an underfunded and expensive project that sets too high of expectations at once is not what the city needs. The debt associated with this lot is only worsening as more time passes because the city only wants to accept the most elite of development plans. Greater financial success can be achieved with a new development plan that implements smart growth and is capable of adapting in the future. The city should hire a developer that is knowledgeable about East Lansing’s history and architecture, and is well versed in smart growth concepts. A smaller yet equally efficient building space and city square should be designed on this lot. This building should be compact, capable of mixed-use for businesses and affordable living spaces, and should also have some artistic and modern aspects in its layout. This design should attract businesses such as restaurants, bars, and shops. The remaining area should be converted into a park area for students and other residents to interact with. The design should have a good connection with nature and Lansing’s art community. These ideas set a great foundation for bigger ideas and will ultimately attract more investors who are excited about the city’s progress. As more funding is eventually found, the city of East Lansing can slowly and consistently build into more complex and elite development plans.
Connection to a community's culture
Author: Kristina Gerding
The location of the Park District/ Grand River and Abbott project is vital to the culture of East Lansing because of its influential location. This location is ideal for attracting both the students and community members who spend time on Grand River. The buildings proposed in the plans are intended to be mixed-use with availability for business spaces. But in order to be successful in creating a space that successfully defines downtown East Lansing's culture, we need to look at how the culture is constantly changing and being redefined. The newly emerging urban culture that is making its way through many cities is also emerging in East Lansing. New spaces coming to this area need to encompass both this new urban culture along with the historic culture of MSU. Bringing in new vitalized projects that include art, cuisine, and nature instead of business buildings would help to transform and progress East Lansing in the urban movement.
Growing Engagement and Flowers in Downtown East Lansing
Author: Kate Den Houter
Principle: Community Engagement and Connection to Nature
After the developer decided to walk away from the proposed plans for the Park District Project, Downtown East Lansing has been left with an eye-sore in the shape of an unutilized and dirty construction site. The plot of land is quite large and in a central location, making it easily accessible by both university students and the East Lansing community. As Downtown East Lansing is rather lacking in terms of green space and community engagement, I believe that this abandoned construction site would be the perfect location to create a community garden.
Not only would a community garden beautify the downtown area by replacing an unutilized dirt patch with a wide assortment of flowers and plants, but community gardens have also been proven to have a lot of other benefits for the surrounding residents. Community gardens provide a common meeting space and activity for community members of all walks of life to partake in together. These gardens provide a common purpose for local residents and help to build a stronger sense of community. Another benefit of creating community gardens are that they provide the opportunity for education. Those who partake in gardening often find themselves learning about plant growth, health benefits, nutrition, organic practices, and even recycling and waste practices. Overall, community gardens have been proven to be incredibly beneficial to urban areas, and I believe that Downtown East Lansing would benefit immensely from creating one.
The Buildings are Tumbling: Do Not let the Community Tumble too
Author: Vanessa Velazquez
East Lansing has finally undergone some clean up on the corner of Grand River and Abbott. The abandoned building that gawked at the other side of the this busy street has been demolished and is in the middle of clean up. But the daunting question is what should go there? This area should be used to create a space that is social, comfort, accessible to all people, and active. In other words, this area should undergo the placemaking process that will build up the East Lansing community. Adding another building to this street is reported to risk the rent of the nearby houses and apartments to go up more, raising the rent could actually drive residents to more affordable housing on the outer perimeters of this city creating more abandoned complexes. This street is a hotspot for people to go and eat, grab a drink, do some shopping; therefore creating an open space is more suitable here to encourage more social interaction. When thinking of a space relatable to what is envisioned here, the concept of placing chairs together at the Wells courtyard should be goal as well. On a warm, beautiful day you see clusters of people gathered around enjoying the day or even sitting alone reading a book; this a goal healthy goal to move towards. Developments should never come at the cost of the surrounding residents, that is why this development should be rethought.
Bringing Culture over the Lines
Author: Vanessa Velazquez
East Lansing is the home to many different types of people from here and abroad. If a building needs to be built it should be more housing. This building should a welcoming center that displays cultural art and opportunities to engage with people they never have before. Michigan State University has a significant amount of international students that could have a less administrative place to celebrate their culture like the International Center. Our domestic community has some diversity as well, this center could be used to celebrate cultural or religious holidays like El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) which just recently past on November 2nd. If not a building, then an open space with walls that can be painted over like MSU's rock to celebrate the diversity of the community.
Author: Makenzie Brown
Principle: Culture is Key
MSU accommodates a huge number of international students, myself included and thus why I think it’s so important to consider culture as a good city principle to keep in mind when developing projects. In this class we have explored several different city squares across the world and I believe the Grand River and Abbott construction would be an ideal place East Lansing’s very own city square. A city square would act as an awesome cultural hub for all of Lansing’s residents.
The city square would focus on creating a place of belonging for all age groups, ethnicity, religions, languages, and personalities. Almost every city in the world has a square, of some sort, that gives culture a home. My hometown Glasgow, Scotland has its own square called ‘George Square’ and it is used all year round. If East Lansing followed suit I think it would bring tremendous benefits to our community as a whole. Ideas for using the square involve having a Christmas market to celebrate a holiday followed by billions all over the world. Other cultural experiences such as Chinese new year or craft beer festivals or Mardi Gras or highland games all would be awesome ways to use the square. Then on top of having different festivals throughout the year, food trucks could be permanently located in and around the square. A Chinese food truck, American food truck, Indian food truck, British food truck, Italian and so on. I know Drexel University in Philadelphia homes plenty of food trucks and they are used and loved by all of the people. I would love MSU to have the same amenity.
Author: Makenzie Brown
Principle: Economic Impact of Small Businesses
Grand River has so much potential and there are so many brilliant ways to make this space awesome. A good city principle I am very passionate about is economic impact of small businesses. The creation of a farmer’s market would really compliment this principle. A farmer’s market is a physical retail marketplace featuring foods sold directly by farmers to consumers. Typical foods that are sold from stands or tables are fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, beverages, etc. Lansing lacks places to get local fresh produce so a farmer’s market is perfect to bring that aspect to Grand River.
The creation of a famer’s market will not only generate business for local farmers but also work as a social gathering. Markets all across the world bring in heaps of people that are locals and also tourists. They are an attraction and attribute to many cities. When visiting New York, I went to Union Square Greenmarket. It was incredible and ever since I look for farmer’s markets wherever I go. They are fun and exciting and force conversation and interaction. All round a great way to create connection with our community, while simultaneously generating business for our residents
Author: Makenzie Brown
Principle: Citizen Centered Development
Michigan State and the Lansing area is seriously lacking entertainment of all sorts and kinds. In the past we had an Amphitheatre and my idea is to bring one back. The new available space on Grand River, East Lansing’s main hub for students and residents, is an ideal location for an Amphitheater to be located. What is really special about this project is that it ties in so many good city principle’s, creating a strong idea for improvement. It connects to community involvement, culture, creativity, and citizen centered development. What more could you ask for?
An Amphitheater is an open air venue for entertainment. The entertainment I had in mind would be performances by local bands and even alumni. Small shows or plays and even orchestras. Creating an Amphitheater that houses maybe 2,000 people max provides local talent with the opportunity to get recognized and appreciated, which is awesome for our community. Not only that, residents can experience and enjoy live entertainment without having to trek to Detroit, for example. Moreover, this is a structure that is visually appealing and would really create a wow factor to MSU’s campus and maybe even something we could be nationally recognized for in the long run. Within a city it is the people that are at the heart of the city. This creation allows the people of our Lansing community to function better and influence our community positively.
Food: Bringing People Together Since the Beginning of Time
Author: Hunter Kulka
Principle: Public Spaces
Public areas are essential to have a cohesive inclusive community. Currently East Lansing has a large divide between the students of Michigan State University and the residents of East Lansing. Part of the reason for this divide is that there is not a location for these two groups to mix and interact with each other. In order to have a more cohesive community we must generate a public area that serves purpose to both groups. Having a more cohesive community serves many benefits to the city so this is something that we should strive to achieve.
Currently the plans at the Park District call for there to be retail space on the first floor of the development. I think that this should be used as a “food court” instead. This type of environment would be excellent for both groups to interact with each other. This could serve multiple purposes; a place of diversity, and a place for productivity. Having a food court would lower the cost for restaurants to open which, this is excellent for diversity as can be seen at the Reading Terminal Market. The city could offer wireless internet for its residents at this place. The large seating area that would be here would make an excellent place for students and families to eat and get work done. Having that place where they interact would greatly improve the cohesiveness of the city.
The Spartan Lifestyle: Go Green
Author: Hunter Kulka
Principle: Go Better Green
Being the home to Michigan State University, Go Green is something that East Lansing hears a lot. However, this “Go Green” isn’t in support of the athletic department at MSU. Instead this represents the need to shift towards renewable energy and the impact that it can have on the community. With the shift in consumer preferences towards electric cars we need to find ways to help charge these cars, and help save the environment. Solar power is becoming more efficient and affordable with the new advancements in technology.
The Park District is a perfect place to help the city Go Green. The Park District is a large development with a lot of unused valuable real estate, the roof. The roof should be fitted with solar panels and wired down to the parking garage and into the power grid. This would allow the parking garage to be outfitted with free charging stations for electric cars, as well as feed any surplus energy into the power grid, lowering the cost of electricity for consumers. With the potential benefits that are present by putting solar panels on the roof, we can’t let this valuable real estate go to waste.
Author: Brendan Carney
Principle: Community Involvement
In most cities, East Lansing to be included, alleyways have the singular use to businesses to be utilized for deliveries and discarding waste. They are considered dark and dreary by most and avoided at all costs. However, the incorporation of street art in alleyways can open these dead spaces up to foot traffic. These spaces should not lie vacant and should be creative, well lite, spaces for artist to flourish. This creates a safer, more comforting area that connects the community to different businesses.
In 1986 the City of Philadelphia Mural and Arts Program was established by Jane Golden, a local artist, as part of an anti-graffiti campaign. The goal of the campaign was to facilitate the collaboration of local artists with prosecuted graffiti vandals to create murals around the city. Each year 50-100 murals are created and restored throughout the community. Community groups educate children in art and involve them in the creation of these murals. These murals are places randomly throughout the city and represent the different people and cultures that represent Philadelphia. It is an easy and affordable improvement to the City that allows artist recognition and helps community member s take pride in their neighborhood. This should be implemented in East Lansing as a way to brighten up dark spaces, educate children, and connect communities via art.
User-generated Urbanism: The Inclusive Approach to City Making
Author: Colin Liang
Principle: Constructing an inclusive community for the city users
The Park District project is located on downtown East Lansing, developers and the government are intended to invest larger amount of money to make the project happen. I happened to come across the director of the department of planning, building, and development at city of East Lansing, Tim Dempsey, in one of my classes. He was lecturing on the government support as a form of tax incentive for the projects that are fit for certain criteria; he mentioned DDA(Downtown Development Authority) is one of the project criteria that would be approved for the Tax Increment Financing; the case study link below shows an overview about the success of DDA in Ann Arbor, a considerably comparable city to East Lansing.
The idea I am proposing is that we should construct and build the Downtown East Lansing with the intention of improving the user friendliness, functionality and accessibility to promote participation of the community. All the city squares we have studied with the success on involving the community have some similar characteristics; they are welcoming and cultural intense, in another word, they all present a strong culture that is inclusive to everyone. I propose that the downtown project should also be a structural change on streetscaping and public amenities; the improvements would provide ease to participate so to stimulate the sense of belonging. Historically, businesses go where people go; commerce should be motivated and built along with the clustering of people. With the incentive that the city of East Lansing given, the project would be financially feasible and the developers should project a desirable rate of return.