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Michigan Capitol Commission faces Russia-related setback, mulls park plans

Maxim Jenkins

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is affecting plans for a new underground visitor and multi-use space attached to the Michigan state capitol.

The Heritage Hall project plans to open this summer. But a manufacturer is having trouble getting some preferred materials from Russia for use in a curtain wall.

Michigan State Capitol Commission Executive Director Rob Blackshaw said there are other options like a temporary wall or using different materials.

“I think that with our alternate solutions, we can meet those deadlines pretty quickly. We’ve thought about that a lot in the background, but we’re hoping that the option A is still feasible,” Blackshaw said after a meeting Monday.

Another factor that could possibly delay completion of the Heritage Hall is landscaping.

The commission first voted to loop the construction of Heritage Hall into ongoing infrastructure work about three years ago.

At Monday’s meeting, the commission also approved $25,000 for conceptual work on a proposed downtown park project.

The park would replace a parking lot between the Michigan Hall of Justice and state office buildings behind the state capitol.

That means the commission would need permission from the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget to use their space.

Capitol Commission Vice Chair John Truscott said the department is open to the conversation but has concerns.

“Obviously, they’re concerned [with] where do we put the people that are parking there now, if we return to employees full time with the state. We just don’t know what work-life is going to look like five or 10 years from now, so they have to be prepared for all contingencies,” Truscott said.

Truscott projected the park is still several years away from completion if it does get built. But early plans include an amphitheater, butterfly gardens and a greenhouse.

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