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Lansing Masonic Temple holds open house with city hall plans in limbo

The owners of the historic Masonic Temple building in downtown Lansing are continuing to pitch their facility as the future home for local government offices as plans to convert the site into a new city hall remain on hold.

The Boji Group, which owns the building, held an open house Wednesday to allow the public to tour the building.

Boji Group president John Hindo said moving city hall there would encourage new growth in Lansing.

“This is a phenomenal building," he said. "It's a great historical building. I think this is a great opportunity for the city of Lansing to spur economic development.”

Constructed in 1924, Lansing’s Masonic Temple building has seven floors, including an auditorium and office and classroom spaces that were once used for Cooley Law School.

The Boji Group is hoping city officials will pay more than $3.5 million to buy the building and move its offices down the street from their current location on Capitol Avenue.

The city has accepted $40 million in state funding to fund city hall renovations. But a purchase agreement for the Masonic Temple building was rejected by Lansing City Council in a 4-4 vote earlier this month.

Councilmembers expressed multiple reasons for objecting, with many saying they wanted more time to consider the plan and share information with residents.

Hindo argued the facility is well-suited for the city's purposes, noting his organization has studied how similar buildings have been used across the country.

“In a few communities, they took their old Masonic Temple and repurposed them for a municipal office building," he said. "It made a lot of sense that the city of Lansing is looking for a municipal office building and has been for many years that this could be a good fit.”

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor has said he's committed to the Masonic Temple City Hall plan. The mayor has expressed support for the plan in part because relocating city hall would open up the current facility forredevelopment into a hotel across from the State Capitol building.

At his State of the City address this month, Schor said he's open to giving the City Council more time to look at the Masonic Temple plan. The city has until September 2027 to spend the state's funds.

But he cautioned that waiting would increase costs for renovating the building.

"This is a project that fits within the $40 million that we have appropriated, so we don't have to use City of Lansing taxpayer dollars. And we're confident that this is the best project," Schor said.

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
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