Extended-Stay Hotel Converting to Apartments

Wednesday, February 24, 2016, 8:05 am
By: 
Alice Dreger

Photo courtesy Google Streetview

What has been the Gatehouse Suites Extended-Stay Hotel in East Lansing will soon be converted to apartments under a redevelopment plan approved Tuesday night by East Lansing’s City Council. The plan received unanimous support by Council, with Mayor Mark Meadows and Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Beier telling the owner they see this as an opportunity to provide rental housing to non-students near campus.

The property, just east of where Grand River Avenue meets Hagadorn Road, consists of seven, white, two-story buildings, a maintenance building, and a pool. The current owner, Justin Miller, plans to undertake some relatively minor interior and exterior renovations to the buildings before renting out what will be efficiencies (studio apartments with minimal kitchen facilities) and one-bedroom and two-bedroom units.

Changes will include removal of the pool to create an outdoor space that looks down to the Red Cedar River. A previous owner had planned a similar conversion to rental apartments but had not carried out the plan. Councilmember Shanna Draheim mentioned that she stayed at this hotel when she first came to East Lansing and was looking for a house to buy.

In response to a question from Councilmember Susan Woods, City Planning and Zoning Administrator Darcy Schmitt suggested there does appear to be a market for these apartments. Beier and Meadows told the property’s owner, who came to the podium to answer questions, that they thought these are the kind of apartments MSU is seeking for visiting faculty. Beier said she would personally call MSU to put them in touch with Miller.

At Council’s meeting, Beier asked Schmitt whether the assessed value will be going up after these changes. Schmitt said she did not have that information. Pressed on the question by Mayor Mark Meadows, Schmitt said she would expect the property to increase in value from this change, thus resulting in more tax revenue for the City.

Miller told Council he planned to market the apartments at the “average” rent indicated by his market analysis, because he would rather have the property fully rented than waiting for tenants who might be willing to pay more.