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Lansing's Oliver Towers' future may be turning from blight to bright

Nov 3, 2014

An eyesore in downtown Lansing may finally have a brighter future.

Lansing's Oliver Towers have been largely vacant since a fire in 2000.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A prominent Lansing developer is offering $1 million for the Oliver Towers. The former apartment building has sat largely vacant for more than a decade. It’s located on prime real estate in the heart of downtown Lansing, a block from the state Capitol building.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero today announced a prominent Lansing developer, George F. Eyde Family LLC, has agreed to buy the building.

“The long saga of Oliver Towers is finally coming to a positive conclusion,” Bernero said in a written statement. 

“This is one of those buildings that sat there,” says Bob Johnson, Lansing Director of Planning and Neighborhood Development. “There have been many conversations on the 'what if’s' and 'what should be' there. The proposals have come and gone.”

Three years ago, the city had another offer for the Oliver Towers.   

It will take more than a touch of paint to fix up the Oliver Towers
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Davenport University offered to swap its Lansing campus with the city in exchange for the Oliver Towers. Davenport officials planned to raze the building and build a multi-million dollar campus complex in its place.

But the Lansing City Council balked at the swap and the deal eventually was pulled off the table. Davenport University later bought and developed another downtown site.

Lansing Community College expressed an interest in the property, which is a short walk from their downtown campus, but that interest also waned.

The latest developer eyeing the property does not plan on demolishing the building. Johnson says the Eyde Family plans to renovate the building and turn it into a mix of market-rate apartments and retail space.

The Lansing City Council must still approve the sale. The council is expected to make that decision before the end of the year.