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Topic: Civil Racketeering case against RTAB member
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Joel Ferguson, Virg Bernero accused of racketeering in Red Cedar ...
www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.../joel_ferguson_virg_bernero_acc.html
Sep 12, 2016 - LANSING, MI - Joel Ferguson, developer and chairman of MSU's Board of Trustees, is accused of conspiring with Mayor Virg Bernero to use ...

Yet Snyder placed Ferguson on the RTAB board. There have been no updates on this lawsuit but I find the allegations disturbing.
Grand Rapids News
Joel Ferguson, Virg Bernero accused of racketeering in Red Cedar Renaissance Project: Lawsuit
Updated Sep 12, 2016; Posted Sep 12, 2016

By John Agar
jagar@mlive.com
In this file photo, Joel Ferguson, a Michigan State University Trustee and head of the Ferguson Development Group, speaks during a press conference with Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, second from right.
LANSING, MI - Joel Ferguson, developer and chairman of MSU's Board of Trustees, is accused of conspiring with Mayor Virg Bernero to use their political influence to "steal" the Red Cedar Renaissance Project.
Developers Christopher and Leo Jerome filed a federal lawsuit alleging that Ferguson, Bernero and others have long engaged in racketeering - rigging bids, bribery and extortion - culminating in Ferguson taking the project, valued at $380 million, from the Jeromes, former partners.
"It is an act of a very powerful political figure using a local city to extort money from someone he's trying to do business with," attorney Mike Cox, the former state Attorney General, told The Grand Rapids Press and MLive on Monday, Sept. 12.
Partnership announced to develop former Red Cedar golf course on Lansing/East Lansing border
Ferguson holds such power in Lansing that he "routinely dispatched" the mayor and the CEO for Lansing Economic Area Partnership, or LEAP, "to deliver financial demands to Chris and Leo Jerome," Cox wrote in the lawsuit.
He said Ferguson's enterprise is "so brazen" that he wrote a demand letter to Bernero for equity shares in the project from the Jeromes, Cox wrote.
"Ferguson was clear that this putatively City of Lansing-run project would be taken from the Jeromes by Bernero if Ferguson's demands were not met. Indeed, Ferguson's demands continued to escalate, and he made good on his threats; ordering Mayor Bernero and LEAP CEO to take the project ... award from the Jeromes - and in violation of Lansing contracting ordinances - award the Project on a no-bid basis to Ferguson's company," Cox wrote.
"Such strong-arm racketeering tactics are a matter of course and a way of doing business for Ferguson," Cox wrote.
Expanded redevelopment plans for former city-owned golf course in Lansing move forward with voter approval
Both Ferguson and Bernero denied wrongdoing and said the allegations were absurd.
Bernero issued a statement:
"The lawsuit is a case of sour grapes by a developer who was unsuccessful. The complaint is frivolous and devoid of any legal merit. The specific claims will be answered in court at the appropriate time.
"Regardless of any assertions made in the complaint, Mayor Bernero will be represented in his official capacity as mayor of Lansing by legal counsel selected by the City Attorney.
"We do not anticipate this lawsuit having any impact on the Red Cedar Renaissance project or the Drain Commissioner's stormwater management project, both of which continue to move forward."
Ferguson had a similar response.
In a telephone interview, he discounted allegation after allegation contained in the 62-page filing.
"There is not any proof," he said. "They have no backup here or evidence. It's just guilt by accumulation."
He said he would not have been elected to his fifth term as chairman of MSU's Board if he had not earned the trust of others who know him and have worked closely with him.
He said the Jeromes are "trying, at the 11th hour, to throw crap on the table."
Leo Jerome lives in Holland, while his son, Chris Jerome, lives in Chicago. They own Story Companies in Lansing and their family has been involved in car dealerships for over 70 years.
Chris Jerome envisioned using family property and the closed Lansing-owned Red Cedar municipal golf course, bordering Lansing and East Lansing, for a "game-changing project" to recruit major national investors and retailers.
Voters in 2011 approved the sale of 12 of the golf course's 60 acres. Chris Jerome says he met with Bernero, and was interested in developing the entire 60 acres.
"Mayor Bernero insisted the Jeromes go and meet with Joel Ferguson because he controlled the majority of the City Council members' votes," the lawsuit said.
Ferguson was impressed with the idea and said he could get the votes for what was then known as the Capital Gateway project, the lawsuit said. He offered his help for free but kept increasing his demand for a stake in the project until he reached 20 percent, the lawsuit said.
Otherwise, he would block the project, the lawsuit said.
The Jeromes were pressured to increase Ferguson's share even further and to become partners with Ferguson's associates, the lawsuit said.
Later, the lawsuit said, Bernero said Ferguson demanded the Jeromes be cut out of the project.


Last edited by untanglingwebs on Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:16 am; edited 1 time in total
Post Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:11 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Despite strong allegations in the racketeering court case , it appears the Red Cedar project is continuingJoel Ferguson, Virg Bernero accused of racketeering in Red Cedar ...
Post Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:13 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

City of Lansing Announces Development Team to Lead Red Cedar Renaissance Project
Posted on December 12, 2013 14:01
LANSING, MI Mayor Virg Bernero and LEAP President and CEO Bob Trezise today announced that a development team has been identified to work with the City of Lansing to redevelop the former Red Cedar Golf Course.

The city has forged a strong partnership with Continental Real Estate Companies, based in Columbus, OH and led by CEO Frank Kass, and the Lansing-based Ferguson Development Group, led by Joel Ferguson. The city and the Continental Real Estate/Ferguson Development Group have mutually agreed to a process for redevelopment.

We are thrilled to be working with one of the major developers in the United States in Continental Real Estate, said Mayor Virg Bernero. Their team is deeply experienced in mixed-use projects and urban revitalization, including riverfront developments. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get it right, and we believe we have found the best possible partners to lead the Red Cedar Renaissance.

Continental Real Estate has a national portfolio that includes the historic revitalization of Pittsburghs riverfront. They are a tremendous choice to lead the Red Cedar Renaissance, a project the has potential to create an environmentally friendly, high end mixed use village. We all look forward to charettes with stakeholders and neighborhoods to help design the development and riverfront park, said Bob Trezise, President and CEO of LEAP.

"We are very excited to work with the City of Lansing, LEAP, and Joel Ferguson and his team on this most exciting project. The Red Cedar development will set the standard for design, quality and planning while addressing the market needs of the region said Frank Kass, Founding Partner, Continental Real Estate Companies.



Located at a key regional intersection of Michigan Avenue, US-127 and Clippert Street, the property connects the City of Lansing, City of East Lansing, Lansing Township, Michigan State University, Red Cedar riverfront, Frandor shopping center and surrounding neighborhoods. The Red Cedar site is vital to the success of our region, and the goal of the development process has always been to look at what is best for the site, the City of Lansing and the region.

In 2011 and 2012, Lansing residents voted to approve the sale of the city-owned property formerly known as the Red Cedar Golf Course. In 2012, the city of Lansing conducted a Request for Proposals to identify potential partners to work on the project. Since then, the citys development team has spent more than a year conducting due diligence, meeting with development groups and potential end users, as well as working closely with the Ingham County Drain Commissioner to integrate his stormwater management project with the mixed-use redevelopment of the Red Cedar site.

###

The Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) is a coalition of area leaders committed to building a prosperous and vibrant region where business can thrive. To do this, we help entrepreneurs start new businesses, help existing businesses grow, and attract new businesses to the region. For more information about LEAP, please visit www.purelansing.com.
Post Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:18 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Lansing State Journal


Ingham County reluctant, but Red Cedar developer presses on
Eric Lacy, Lansing State Journal Published 11:26 a.m. ET Oct. 14, 2016 | Updated 4:40 p.m. ET Oct. 14, 2016
Lansing developer Joel Ferguson stays firm on belief his team will present county officials an impressive financial plan in "two to three weeks." Public funding through city is also an option.

LANSING -- Ingham County's top financial official has advised the Board of Commissioners that selling at least $35 million in bonds to support development at the former Red Cedar Golf Course is too risky. The developers, meanwhile, say they can create a plan that covers any perceived risks.

Tim Dolehanty, the county's controller/administrator, wrote in a letter this month that the county could put itself at risk if it helped fund the $380 million Red Cedar Renaissance project because it would not have "ancillary resources" to supplement any shortfall in property taxes needed to pay off the debt. The letter, dated Oct. 6, was addressed to Bob Trezise, president and CEO of the Lansing Economic Area Partnership.

"I don't have the authority to stop anything," Dolehanty said on Friday. "But as their principal policy advisor, I would like to think my suggestion would carry some weight."

Any bonds needed for the project would require a special taxing district to be established for the properties built at the development site. Property taxes from that district would be used to pay off the bonds.


Dolehanty told the Lansing State Journal on Friday the county still had not received a financial plan for the project, which the county requested in August. He's concerned that if the county sold the bonds then it would not be able to protect itself legally and financially if the developer or any of its tenants won appeals from the state to reduce their property tax assessments.

"If there are no taxes to capture, then the county is obligated to pay," Dolehanty said. "We just can't take that risk." Dolehanty's letter mentioned that "informal discussions and media reports" suggest the total cost of public infrastructure for the project ranges from "$35 million to $45 million."

Less than a week after Dolehanty sent his letter to Trezise, Lansing developer Joel Ferguson's team researched legal cases dating back to 1954 about "restrictive covenants" that give them confidence the project will prohibit owners from going to the state tax tribunal to lower their property tax assessments.

A memo outlining that research, dated Oct. 11, was sent to Ferguson and his partner Frank Kass by John Pirich of the Honigman law firm. It was emailed Friday to the LSJ.

"We do not feel (Dolehanty's) letter is bad news, because he gave us a bar to jump over," Ferguson said.

Ferguson said his team will present county officials a sound financial plan within the next "two to three weeks."

Ferguson said Friday his team also will be prepared soon to give city of Lansing officials all the financial details about the project they might need in case county officials decline to offer public financing.

"The city and the county are both in play," Ferguson said. "Were not married to either one of right now."

Trezise said Friday he appreciates the county's willingness to take a look at a potential bond proposal while developers and LEAP are still trying to determine whether public financing is needed.

The city still owns the former golf course property and recently extended its purchase agreement with the developers to Feb. 28.

Ferguson: Red Cedar project moving, despite lawsuit
Ferguson told the LSJ last month that he and Kass have already spent "$5 million to $6 million" to move the Red Cedar project forward, including $80,000 to remove trees from the former golf course site so it can be prepped for development.

The project calls for a full-service hotel, a boutique hotel, a medical office building, five restaurants, 129 town homes and student housing that can accommodate 1,200 people. City of Lansing officials have called it the largest Lansing development in recent history, with the exception of General Motors plants.

Dolehanty said he hasn't received word from any Ingham County commissioners that they support the bond proposal since he wrote the letter. It's unclear if Lansing officials, including City Council members, would be willing to approve city-issued bonds to help fund public infrastructure for the project.

Mayor Virg Bernero said Friday in a statement that issuing city bonds for public infrastructure related to the project "has always been on the table." He also expressed optimism the project will succeed. Bernero described the project as "a vitally important project that will create jobs, bring new residents to the city and have a transformational impact on the Michigan Avenue corridor."

"When the developers bring forward their final proposal, we will work hand in hand with LEAP to conduct our due diligence and move forward from there," Bernero said.

Randy Hannan, Bernero's executive assistant, wrote last month in an email to the LSJ the county bonding option would "save millions of dollars on the long-term debt service."

Moody's Investor Service's credit rating for Ingham County general obligation bonds is AA2 (considered high quality) compared to Lansing's A2 (upper-medium grade), the LSJ reported last month.

Both Lansing and Ingham County are well beneath their debt limits. Michigan law caps borrowing by local units of government at 10% of the state equalized value of property in their jurisdiction. According to the city's 2015 financial reports, Lansing had $91 million in outstanding debt, less than half of its legal limit of $208 million. Ingham County's legal limit is $796 million and it had about $87 million in outstanding debt, according to its 2015 financial reports.

The county's long-term financial concerns deepened over the summer, when officials were notified of new calculations for its pension fund that would dramatically increase annual payments in coming years. The county's reserves will cover the 2017 bump, but by 2021 the payment is expected to top $21 million annually. As early as 2018, county officials expect to be making difficult decisions about cutting services.

A second financial challenge looms with the aging, outdated county jail. Replacement costs could range from $55 million to $76 million, and several commissioners have expressed doubt that voters would OK a special millage for new construction.

Lansing, meanwhile, has hopes of moving out of its outdated City Hall. Bernero has pushed for a new county jail in the city and holds hope of incorporating facilities for Lansing's 54-A District Court and Police Department, although county officials are reluctant to move the jail from Mason. Both of those efforts would require city spending.

Eric Lacy is a reporter for the Lansing State Journal. Contact him at (517) 377-1206 or elacy@lsj.com. Follow him on Twitter @EricLacy
Post Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:21 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Lansing City Pulse
L
NEWS Dec. 7 2016 09:48 AM
Red Cedar kerfuffle
MSU clears Bernero of accepting Rose Bowl tickets from Ferguson
BY TODD HEYWOOD
Michigan State University says that Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero paid for game tickets for himself and his wife to the 2014 Rose Bowl, contradicting a claim in a federal racketeering lawsuit against him and Joel Ferguson, the chairman of the MSU Board of Trustees.

The lawsuit was filed against them in September by Christopher and Leo Jerome, who were originally partners with Ferguson in the $380 million Red Cedar Renaissance development project on Michigan Avenue.

For the 2014 Rose Bowl, Ive confirmed Mayor Bernero was sold two tickets via the presidents office in the stands, said Jason Cody, an MSU spokesman.

However, the Berneros did receive special treatment. Besides being able to buy tickets through President Lou Anna Simons office, they were also allowed to visit the MSU suite at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena to witness MSUs 24-20 victory over Stanford University.

Cody said there was no cost to enter the suite to visit trustees and other dignitaries.

In the lawsuit, the Jeromes contend they were improperly cut out of the Red Cedar golf course redevelopment project as a reward from Bernero to Ferguson for political favors. It also alleges Ferguson has paid for numerous other items for both the mayor and his wife.


Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero paid for 2014 Rose Bowl tickets for himself and his wife, contradicting a lawsuit that claims otherwise as part of its case against the mayor and developer Joel Ferguson that alleges racketeering connected to the Red Cedar Renaissance project.
Courtesy Photo

Ferguson has said he could not work with the Jeromes, which led to their removal.

The federal lawsuit also alleges that Ferguson paid for the Berneros Rose Bowl trip.

In an emailed statement, Bernero said: Anyone who claims that Joel Ferguson paid for our trip to the Rose Bowl is mistaken. I paid for it myself as a Christmas gift to my wife, Terri.

Former Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, who is representing the Jeromes, declined comment.

The allegations may be fueled, at least in part, by Ferguson himself.

He told us he paid for that trip, Lansing City Councilman Jody Washington said, referring to an Oct. 27 meeting with him and Councilwoman Carol Wood on the Red Cedar Renaissance project.

However, Wood could not collaborate Washingtons recollection.

Ferguson denied hed made such claims.

Why would I say that? he asked. While Ferguson may not have paid for the Berneros tickets, he has provided MSU sports tickets to other politicians and public officials, apparently at his own expense. In doing so, he has apparently done nothing illegal or unethical by MSU standards.

But that may not be true of at least two recipients, Derrick Quinney and Janene McIntyre. Both were city officials when Ferguson gave them tickets, but neither reported the tickets on annual disclosure forms, as required by the City Charter.

Quinney, who served on the Lansing City Council as an At-Large member from 2007 until 2015, confirmed he accepted tickets to sporting events from Ferguson and that he failed to report them. He resigned his city position when he was appointed Ingham County register of deeds last year. He was elected to the post in November.

Quinney denied that the gifts were attempts to influence him. He said Ferguson had coached a youth football team he played on and the two had remained lifelong friends.

If I have to file new information to rectify this, I will, he said.

McIntyre, the former city attorney, had also accepted an undetermined number of tickets from Ferguson, the developer confirmed. However a review of McIntyres disclosure forms found she failed to disclose the tickets. It is possible she did not receive enough tickets to trigger the $500 reporting threshold, but Ferguson declined to comment any further.

As a trustee, Ferguson is given tickets to MSU sporting events and the Wharton Center to distribute as he sees fit. The university, in turn, issues 1099 federal income forms to trustees for the face value of the tickets each has received over a year. The trustee is then obligated to pay income tax on the value of the tickets. The only time that does not apply is if the trustee identifies the ticket distribution as a university business expense, in which case it is not tabulated in the 1099 income document, said Cody.

Cody said in the last three years Ferguson has not claimed any tickets as business expenses and has thus been issued 1099s for the value of the tickets. He declined to disclose how much those tickets were worth.

Ferguson said he does not see what the fuss is about.

No one feels it but you, Ferguson said Thursday in an interview. I dont think it moves the needle on anything. Im not going to discuss any tickets with anyone, cause I havent done anything improper.

Ferguson said its on them elected and appointed officials for failing to disclose the tickets.

He said administrators and trustees pass out tickets to various sporting events all the time. He noted that on any given home game, many lawmakers have taken free tickets, including the governor and attorney general as well as senators and representatives. There is no state law requiring disclosure of these gifts to state lawmakers, who appropriate the universitys budget. Its a non-issue.

Its a non-event. We do it openly, Ferguson said. When asked why MSU officials had not released the list of recipients, even though it had been requested, he said officials were offended by the questions.

Keith Kris, chairman of the Lansing Board of Ethics, said he was surprised to learn that Quinney had failed to disclose the gifts. The boards authority is limited, however, he said.

We cannot instigate investigations, he said. We rely on citizen complaints and reports in the media to do that.

He noted that the board started such an inquiry into interim City Attorney Joseph Abood earlier this year, but reluctantly dropped it when he was not forwarded as the final selection for the post. Abood came under scrutiny when City Pulse reported he was supervising his own daughter as an employee in the City Attorneys Office and that his former family law firm was a preferred outside legal counsel provider for the city. His disclosure form when he was appointed to the interim post showed he was receiving residual payments from the firm.

Some of us were very, very troubled by that, Kris said. But once he was not the interim, nor the city attorney, we did not have the ability to continue. Many of us believed it was unfair that some city employees, like police officers, have to disclose any outside income source, while others dont.
Post Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:27 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Lansing City Pulse


And what if I did? Lansing Developer Joel Ferguson publicly demonstrates disdain for ethics when dealing with government officials
March 14, 2017



No Secret Lansing Deals a coalition of Lansing citizens and small business owners demands Lansing Developer Joel Ferguson explain his longstanding relationships between Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and other city officials.

According to public statements made by Lansing 1st ward council member Jody Washington, Ferguson paid for two tickets for Bernero so that he could attend the 2014 Rose Bowl.

Buying football tickets for a friend may not seem newsworthy, but when former Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox alleges in federal court that you routinely engage in dishonest business practices to influence city officials in accordance to your agenda, thats when bad behavior must be questioned by the public.

Joel Ferguson and (Ferguson Development company officials) misuse Fergusons political influence to create a pay-to-play system for municipal and state contract approvals, political favors, and access to public tax dollars related to public contracts for highly profitable land development projects focused primarily in and around the City of Lansing. Cox said in a recently published response in the Lansing State Journal.

So what was Fergusons response to this pay to play allegation by a former state attorney general?

And what if I did? Seriously. Thats what he said.

We deserve more than dismissive answers from our city business and political leaders regarding serious public matters. No Secret Lansing Deals continues to stand up for the citizens of Lansing, who deserve to know what goes on behind closed doors.

You can further support us by liking our Facebook page.
Post Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:31 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Bernero Still Trying to Jam $380 Million Red Cedar Complicated Matter Before His Term Ends
May 17, 2017


For Immediate Release: May 17, 2017
Contact: TJ Bucholz, 517.657.3944

Years have passed, yet the infamous Bernero and Ferguson duo wont let go of their absurd development dreams. This morning, the Lansing State Journal reported that Developers of a proposed $380 million project called Red Cedar Renaissance are still working on a plan to finance whats been a complicated matter with public land that sits on a flood plain.

No Secret Lansing Deals, a group comprised of concerned citizens and business owners, is committed to eliminating the culture of cronyism and back-door deals that has infested Lansing during Berneros administration.

Unfortunately, the Red Cedar project is just another product of the mayors friendly relationship with wealthy developers like Joel Ferguson, at expense of everyday Lansing residents.

The Red Cedar development is extremely complicated and puts an unnecessary amount of risk on the backs of Lansing taxpayers, said TJ Bucholz, director of No Secret Lansing Deals. It isnt worth the $380 million cost just so Bernero can help out a friend.

The Red Cedar project has been riddled with issues since Ferguson began to seek public funding in the form of bonds from Ingham County taxpayers more than a year ago. He was not successful because of the complications with developing the project and uncertainty about its financial feasibility.

Its time to for Ferguson and Bernero to let go and move on. The city needs leaders focused on the problems Lansing is facing now, not failed developments of the past.

The fact that that the city revealed its $675 million crisis with unfunded liabilities and Bernero still wants to spend tax dollars on a pet project is ridiculous, said Bucholz. City leaders should be dealing with that disaster and invest into crumbling roads and infrastructure instead of wasting public funds on failed projects.
Its time for a change. Its time for the Angry Mayor to finally release his grip on the City of Lansing and let the people choose a leader that always puts the taxpayer first.
Post Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:34 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Vanguard Public Affairs | TJ Bucholz
www.vanguard-pa.com/tjbucholz
TJ also has the unique experience of serving as senior program officer for United States Program Advocacy at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, ...
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This company was also part of the many ads during the recall election




Note: Bill and Melina Gates were investors in Republic Waste haulers


Last edited by untanglingwebs on Sat Nov 25, 2017 6:31 am; edited 1 time in total
Post Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:37 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Lansing City Pulse

Red Cedar rising?
NEWS May 17 2017 11:48 PM
Red Cedar rising?
BY TODD HEYWOOD
Developer says agreement in principle reached, announcement expected as soon as a week
After years of delays and false starts, a proposed $270 million development on the citys former Red Cedar Golf Course on Michigan Avenue could be moving swiftly to the formal approval process with the city as soon as next week, says developer Joel Ferguson.

Expect something to be announced within a week or so, Ferguson said Monday in a phone interview. I would say weve come to an agreement in principle.

Details of that agreement, which would include the purchase price as well as how much the city could be on the hook for infrastructure development, were not released.

An effusive, but evasive, Bob Trezise, president and CEO of the Lansing Area Economic Partnership, which has been working with the developer and the city on the project, would not confirm a deal had been reached.

I will say we are finally making great and fairly rapid progress, he said by text message when asked if he could confirm an agreement had been reached.

When told Ferguson had confirmed a deal in principle had been struck, Trezise responded Too funny.

His response is evidence of the ongoing struggle to bring the massive project to life. Its been hampered by negotiations over the value of the former golf course and how much and who will pay for infrastructure to allow the development to move forward in a floodplain.

In order to develop the land, the developers are seeking public funding to build elevated platforms made of concrete on which to build. Ferguson and his development team want those platforms, called plinths, built using publicly financed bonds. Theyve sought bonds from the county, which rejected them, and have been seeking the bonds from the city. Those bonds could be for as much as $35 million.

Without such infrastructure in place, Ferguson has argued the property itself has no value because it cant sustain any development. He softened that edge Monday, saying, Of course the property has a value.

But what that value is Ferguson isnt saying. A land purchase and development agreement with Ferguson and Continental Lansing LLC filed with the City Clerks Office on Nov. 10, 2014, however placed the value of the land at about $7.14 million. Last year in an interview with City Pulse, Trezise declined to say how much the property purchase price would ultimately be, saying only, I have a number in mind.

The project has not been without controversy. Leo and Chris Jerome, who had a development option on the land until 2013, sued Ferguson, Continental LLC, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, and Trezise; alleging racketing and a pay for play scheme.

In March, a federal judge ordered former Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, who is representing the Jeromes, to rewrite and submit his brief against the defendants. That has been refiled, but Ferguson and others say the writing is on the wall, that the suit will be dismissed.

Ferguson has called the allegations of pay for play ridiculous, noting that he has not donated to Bernero or his campaigns in the past. Campaign finance records support this claim, while showing the Jeromes having given thousands to Bernero campaign committees as well as his 527 account.

If the project is approved, it would include retail space, boutique hotels, market-rate apartments and apartment units for students as well as public amenities, such as two amphitheaters. It would be the most substantial developments in Lansing since the redevelopment of the Ottawa Power Station in downtown that was completed in 2011.

It will be transformative of Michigan Avenue, said Patrick Lindemann, the Ingham County drain commissioner. He is working on developing a new drain system which will include retention ponds in the former golf course. That project will include redeveloping Ranney Park with various ponds and other water features as well as natural areas, installing of drain controls in the medians of Michigan Avenue and developing of the golf course. The goal of that project is to use natures cleansing power to remove tons of non-source pollution that flows into the Red Cedar River.

When completed, Lindemanns project will restructure the entire drainage course for portions of Lansing, East Lansing, Lansing Township and US 127 and 496. The cost?

I am telling people about $30 million, he said. That could be higher than the actual cost, which he wont know until he can formally create bidding requirements for the project which would spell out exactly how many feet of drain lines and other construction needs would be required. He said he will seek 30-year bonds to finance the project, which will make it affordable for the municipalities that will have to pay for the upgrades.

He said the process of finishing up the final designs, on which all those bidding documents would be based, is about 65 or 70 percent done. Right now employees of the Drain Commissioners Office are working with various utilities to identify buried utility services throughout the proposed drain are.

We dont want to miss any of those, he said. If we do, it adds time and money to the project. So this work on the front saves taxpayers money.

News that the development could be moving forward came as a surprise to Council members. Judi Brown Clarke, an at-large Councilwoman who chairs the development and planning committee, said she didnt have any specifics but theres been a lot of talk.

Jody Washington, the 1st Ward Councilwoman representing that area, said she has not heard anything either.

I know I have been hearing the same thing for five years: Shovels in the ground by October, she said Monday. But talk is all I have seen. Well, and trees being cut down.
Post Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:40 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

East Lansing Info

Home Labor Protest Continues at Nearby SkyVue Development
Labor Protest Continues at Nearby SkyVue Development
Tuesday, August 30, 2016, 7:46 am
By:
Ian Hoopingarner

The union protest over compensation for carpenters is now going into its sixth month at the site of the SkyVue development project on the corner of Michigan Avenue in Lansing, adjacent to the Frandor Shopping Center. Not yet complete, the project is being marketed to MSU students via a storefront in downtown East Lansing.

The Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters & Millwrights (MRCC), a union representing 14,000 Michigan construction trades workers, alleges that Kent Companies, a contractor hired to pour concrete for the development project, is not paying all carpenters wages and benefits commensurate with area standards. Todd McCastle, financial secretary for the Local 1004 branch of the union, recently told the Lansing State Journal, This kind of abuse has to stop.

Last week, I spoke with protesters on the picket line. Carpenters from the MRCC say that not all of the skilled tradespeople working on the construction site are receiving standard wages and benefits. Kent Companies, which contracted the carpenters, has responded to the protest by claiming that they pay competitive wages. Kent operates using a merit pay system, so not all workers make the same wages for work on the same project.

In defending the wages and benefits the company pays to carpenters to the Lansing City Pulse, Kent says they pay $22 per hour of work and $15.08 per hour in associated benefits. Compensation standards for carpentry work in Ingham County are $24.79 per hour in wages and $18.03 in benefits.

Kent Companies, the concrete contractor for SkyVue, has also been active in development projects in East Lansing, including DTNs 300 Grand apartment complex next to Biggby Coffee on Grand River Avenue. On November 11, 2015, that site made news when a crane operated by Kent Companies collapsed on top of other equipment, a fence, and a portable toilet. One worker was taken to the hospital but was not seriously physically injured. Safety equipment on the crane appeared to have been inoperational, DTN vice president Colin Cronin told the Lansing State Journal at the time.

The SkyVue project, being constructed on the site of the former Story Oldsmobile dealership (closed and sold in 2015) is a 667,000-square-foot development project that includes a nine-story building housing around 300 apartments. About 145 of the units are single-bedroom apartments aimed at attracting MSU students. The bottom floors of the development are intended to house two restaurants. Also a part of the development plan is a six-story enclosed parking ramp with space for 600 vehicles.

The development costs for the SkyVue project were initially estimated at $77 million but according to the Lansing State Journal are now looking to be closer to $90 million. SkyVue is being built by Wolverine Building Group out of Grand Rapids. RISE Real Estate, based in Valdosta, Georgia, is responsible for the development of the site. The Lansing State Journal reports that RISE will be getting approximately $25 million in tax increment financing (TIF) reimbursements for the project over 25 years.

The development sits opposite Michigan Avenue from the former Red Cedar Golf Course, which closed in 2007. Lansing residents voted to sell that 61-acre plot for development in two ballot initiatives in 2011 and 2012. What was once one of two public golf courses in Lansing is now slated for redevelopment as the Red Cedar Renaissance project. Plans include a hotel and high-end apartments.

The approximately $200 million Red Cedar Renaissance development is led by MSU Trustee Joel Fergusons Continental Development and a Columbus, Ohio-based development company. A storm drain project is to be built alongside that development in order to alleviate run-off water pollution from the Frandor Shopping Center area. According to mLive, Ingham County Drain Commissioner Patrick Lindemann has found the area drain into the Red Cedar River to be one of the most polluted in the region.

Both the SkyVue and Red Cedar Renaissance projects were hailed by Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and are part of ongoing plans to urbanize the Michigan Avenue corridor connecting East Lansing to Lansing. The Park District redevelopment in East Lansing just northwest of the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Grand River Avenue is seen by some as another key part of this regional reconstruction plan, along which CATA wants to construct a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

One part of the Park District area, the City of East Lansing-owned property at 303 Abbot Road, has now been fully demolished as shown below, and further development is in the planning stage in that area, as ELis Chris Root reported last week.
Post Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:48 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

The approximately $200 million Red Cedar Renaissance development is led by MSU Trustee Joel Fergusons Continental Development and a Columbus, Ohio-based development company. A storm drain project is to be built alongside that development in order to alleviate run-off water pollution from the Frandor Shopping Center area. According to mLive, Ingham County Drain Commissioner Patrick Lindemann has found the area drain into the Red Cedar River to be one of the most polluted in the region.


Also a new drain as the Golf Course is in a flood plain.

A lot of infrastructure for this project! How much risk?


Developer signs deal to build $276 million project in Lansing
By STEVE CARMODY NOV 6, 2014
Michigan Radio
Developers signed an agreement to build a quarter-billion dollar housing and retail complex in Lansing today.


Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero (foreground), developers Frank Kass and Joel Ferguson sign an agreement.
CREDIT STEVE CARMODY / MICHIGAN RADIO
Now they just have to figure out how to build it in a floodplain.

The Red Cedar Renaissance project is intended to transform an old golf course on Lansings east side into shopping and dining mecca with a mix of apartments and parkland.

Developers plan to spend $200 million on the project. Another $76 million is earmarked for dealing with the problem that has long stalled development plans: flooding.

Lansings old Red Cedar golf course routinely flooded. Runoff from surrounding properties and the Red Cedar River occasionally overflowing its banks have limited the propertys uses.

Columbus, Ohio developer Frank Kass says over the next year and half his company will try to come up with an engineering solution that would lift the development above the floodplain and treat the runoff to reduce pollution.

Kass says his company has experience elevating individual buildings over floodplains, though an entire project is a different story.

Weve not done an entire site thats under floodplain, says Kass, So this is really new territory for everyone involved.

There are still several hurdles the Red Cedar Renaissance must overcome before construction can begin.

For example, the Lansing City Council must sign off on the agreement signed this week.

Still, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero is excited that a project that has long been simmering appears finally to be heating up.

New housing opportunities. New retail opportunities. Major development along Michigan Avenue helping to close the gap between the State Capitol and Michigan State University," says Bernero, will help "create what I call Miracle Mile.
Post Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:51 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

The cost of the project went up $100 million in 3 years


March 24, 2017



Ingham County reluctant, but Red Cedar developer presses on
October 15, 2016
Recent Posts

Ingham County reluctant, but Red Cedar developer presses on
October 15, 2016

No Secret Lansing Deals Saddened By Desperate Antics Targeting Ingham County Officials To Fund Red Cedar Project
December 8, 2016



No Secret Lansing Deals is disappointed with pathetic antics by local developers to approve funding for the Red Cedar Renaissance project, when it has been clear county commissioners will not support putting taxpayers on the hook for their work.

In October 2016, Ingham County Controller Tim Dolehanty declared in a letter to the Ingham County Board of Commissioners that the deal to fund millions of dollars in bonds for the Red Cedar project a scheme proposed by Lansing area developer Joel Ferguson did not make fiscal sense for the county.

This new scheme by Ferguson is just more typical shady, last minute antics to get funding for this fantasy project, said Jen Eyer, spokeswoman for No Secret Lansing Deals. Our county commissioners and Controller Dolehanty deserve accolades for their ability to see through the faade and should not vote in favor of this boondoggle.

Under the guise of his own legal opinion, Ferguson has proposed a pitiful ruse that would allegedly hold his company accountable to pay off any bond revenue shortfalls from the project, when in reality taxpayers would likely be on the hook.

Ferguson has now told officials that $45 million of publicly backed bonds would be needed to build on the property in order to make a solid surface to lift out of the floodplain another increase from previously stated estimates.

According to Eyer, No Secret Lansing Deals and the coalition that stands for honesty and transparency from our elected officials expect and demand that taxpayers not be responsible for the costs associated with for-profit business deals.

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Post Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:03 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Mayor Bernero Must Explain Vanishing Documents
February 2, 2017


No Secret Lansing Deals a coalition of Lansing citizens and small business owners demands transparency from Lansing Mayor Virgil Bernero and wants his administration to finally explain the truth behind the $160,663 payout to former City Attorney Janene McIntyre.

Following a 2016 ambiguous council committee meeting, Lansing City Attorney Jim Smiertka stated that the payout of McIntyre was for release of the claim regarding employment related issues. McIntyres payout was allegedly motivated by a legal claim she made against the city but no claim can be confirmed, according to investigative work conducted by the Lansing City Pulse this week.

The statement from the citys lawyer contradicts public statements made by Bernero, who indicated to WILS Radio late last year that the payout was simply for a job well done.

So which is it? Documents would help shed light on this issue, but those items are missing in action at City Hall. The Office of the City Attorney, along with Berneros administration, has been unable to locate these documents related to such a claim. The repeated vanishing documents and complete lack of transparency from this case should sound the alarm for voters that our future is at-risk.

Its time for Mayor Virgil Bernero to come clean about what happened to these documents, once and for all. As the leader of Lansing government, it should be our Mayors responsibility to be transparent with citizens. We demand to know whats going on in City Hall, said TJ Bucholz, Director of No Secret Lansing Deals. The fact that Bernero seems to have something to hide regarding a possible scandal in our local government undermines his credibility with voters. The city needs to prove that no controversy existed in this payout, rather than just asking that we trust their word.

No Secret Lansing Deals stands up for the citizens of Lansing. They deserve to know what goes on behind closed doors.
Post Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:21 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

The "lack of transparency" is also obvious in Flint's Mayor karen Weaver. For years residents have been able to go on line and see the City of Flint Accounts Payable and the Check Register. Some months ago I was on that site and made a note to myself to check out not only some payments to 3 churches but also about three missing records in the middle of the check register. I brought it up on Facebook and now they are all gone except for a January 2017 partial document.

The only place you can read the City Council meeting minutes is on RTAB. Bill Payer, a literate and astute contributor to Flint Talk also made note of no minutes. If you don't attend council meeting and don't have Comcast to watch channel 17 on Sundays, you have little knowledge of what is happening.

I agree with "No Secret Deals" and this is an intolerable situation. And don't blame the City Clerk about the minutes because it is the Flint IT team that deals with the internet. And that throws the ball directly in Weaver's court! What secret deals are being transacted?
Post Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:33 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

No Secret Lansing Deals Supports Proposed Lansing City Council Bidders Ordinance
December 2, 2016


Lansing citizens, business owners, and organizations who make up the No Secret Lansing Deals movement are asking Lansing City Council leaders to approve a law designed to improve the way the city does its economic development business.

The Bidders Ordinance, written by Lansing City Councilwoman Jody Washington, would require the city to release all details of proposed RFPs that guide decision making associated with development deals in Lansing.

The ordinance, opposed by Mayor Virg Bernero, would simply require developers to publicly disclose the distribution, opening and awarding of bids. Failure to do so could, under the ordinance, result in revocation of incentives, such as tax breaks, or other penalties.

Council members decided last Monday night to table it until next week to potentially make it better, adding an amendment that encourages surrounding municipalities to adopt similar language. The City Council is expected to meet on the law in committee on December 8.

We want to ensure that our leaders simply play by the rules as outlined by law, said Jen Eyer, spokeswoman for No Secret Lansing Deals. There have been far too many examples in the region where the pay-to-play mentality has ruled the day, and citizens are demanding that practice end. Taxpayers in Lansing deserve better from their leaders.

No Secret Lansing Deals hopes to ensure that insider-directed, no-bid projects like the Red Cedar Renaissance plan, Skyvue, and other no-bid plans that favor only certain developers are a thing of the past, and that the city of Lansing focuses on ensuring that the playing field is leveled.

The time to be transparent in new business deals that play with our tax dollars is now, Eyer said. The city of Lansing needs to stop its sweetheart deals and pay to play nonsense. We want our leaders to focus on honesty and transparency, and certainly working to ensure taxpayers are not on the hook when developers say they are focused on growth, but only interested in lining their pockets at citizen expense.
Post Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:39 am 
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