When the city was first approached by Jeffrey Surnow, about three years ago, he expressed his vision for a mixed-use office building and/or hotel fronting a downtown park. The city was attracted to his history as someone who always looked to harmonize the commercial elements of a development with urban green spaces. At the time, the city had not decided where it would relocate current city and police operations, although the city was moving forward under the assumption that municipal buildings were not the best use for this site.
Sadly, Mr. Surnow passed away that spring, and there were no developments on the project until later that summer, when Mr. Surnow’s sons, Sam and Max, partnered with the Boji Group to try and bring the plan back into fruition. This new partnership, Central Park Development Group, is the entity of which most of the public is now familiar. They came back to the city with a much larger plan, incorporating the office and park elements of Jeff Surnow’s initial proposal, with a solution for the city’s needs: a new police station and a new City Hall, which would be located in the office building. This marriage of public and private was based upon a similar structure used for the State Senate offices in Lansing.
As discussions with this developer became more serious, the city retained Plante Moran CRESA (PMC) as its real estate advisor to vet the details of the proposal. Plante Moran has a long and distinguished history with large scale development projects, and in particular, municipal projects. They’ve been side-by-side with the city, not only examining the details of this particular project, but offering guidance to alternatives when the project would hit a roadblock. PMC was also tasked with performing a feasibility study on the city’s current City Hall and police station. Was it a viable alternative to invest in our current facilities instead of pursuing new ones? Their conclusion was no, citing that both buildings were functionally obsolete.
Locating City Hall within a speculative office building presented many legal and, to some extent, financial challenges, and we - the developer and the city - made the mutual decision to pursue a standalone building for City Hall operations. When this decision was made, the city also decided shortly thereafter that it was in its best interest to assume management and control of the city-owned portions of the project. That decision was made in April, and that is where the project currently stands.
The city is pursuing the development of a new police station (which is very deep into the design development process - nearly complete), a new City Hall, a downtown park, which hasn’t entered any stage of the design development process, and a parking structure. It is anticipated to close on its bond financing for the project in late 2017 or January 2018 A comprehensive overview of the project can be found here .
The private office building is solely being developed by CPDG.
On June 26, 2017, the commission released outside counsel to draft a development agreement that memorializes these terms into a development agreement. This development agreement was presented to the commission on August 28, 2017 and unanimously approved.