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FLEX City Fitness doubles space with new Downtown Lansing location

It didn't take very long for FLEX City Fitness to hit its stride. Just a year and a half after opening, the small group fitness business is moving from its original, 1,000 square foot location to a new, 2,200 square foot space on Washington Square.
 
"We grew about 50 percent in our first year, and we just wanted to be able to accommodate the growth," says FLEX City Co-founder Jenny Quinn. "We also wanted to stay committed to Downtown Lansing. We really believe in what's going on here."
 
FLEX City Fitness combines the community support of class exercise with the attention of a personal trainer with small classes. The classes alternate cardio and strength training, and the workouts change so clients are always surprised with a new challenge. 
 
"We have indoor cycling, treadmills, barre and more," Quinn says. "The intervals change every day, the different pieces of equipment change, so it keeps people's bodies changing and guessing."
 
Along with the new space, FLEX is developing online classes for clients who may not be able to attend as often or students who may leave town during the summer. The new studio will also have new equipment to improve clients' experience.
 
FLEX City Fitness will open for its first class in the new location on Aug. 19. The business is operated by Quinn and her partner, Trista Parisian with the help of two interns. They hope to continue their growth to add new instructors in the future. 

Source: Jenny Quinn, FLEX Citiy Fitness
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

The Runway to return fashion to the Knapp's Building in 2014

For decades, when young fashion designers wanted to make it in the industry, the obvious decision was to pack up and move to New York, Paris, London or precious few other fashion-centric cities. Could Lansing be the next hot spot for aspiring designers?
 
If it sounds far-fetched, consider the fact that The Runway, Lansing's forthcoming fashion business incubator isn't being created in the hopes that fashion talent will find their way to the city; it's to begin harnessing all of the fashion-based entrepreneurship that is already here. 
 
"When Jeff Smith and I were came on, we were evaluating and were looking for a unique thing we don't have an incubator for yet," says Co-Director the New Economy Division for Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP). We kept running into people who were starting their own fashion lines. There are a number of people who are getting formally trained in this area, and there are lot more people who are dabbling in it on the side."
 
On track to open in January of 2014, The Runway will soon be under construction in an 8,200 square foot space in the Knapp's Building, including a floor level and mezzanine level. The first floor will offer a flexible space for the designers in residence to sell their work, as well as events. The mezzanine level will include 13 offices.
 
Not only is The Runway a great fit for a community with so much fashion talent, says Szymusiak, but also because of the very building it will be a part of. 
 
"This is bringing fashion back to the most iconic department store in the area," he says. "The retail space for tenants will really bring that back to the Knapp's Building."
 
LEAP is the service provider for The Runway, which is funded by the Lansing Economic Development Corp. 


Source: Ken Szymusiak, LEAP
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

What Up Dawg? looks to expand into Downtown Lansing

The East Lansing restaurant known as the hot spot for hot dogs is continuing to grow with an eye on Downtown Lansing. What Up Dawg? recently expanded their sales with a new downtown hot dog cart, and is hoping to be the newest business in the bustling block of Michigan Ave. that includes The Loft and The Tin Can. 
 
"One of the owners of this building saw us and they really weren't interested in doing their own food, they just wanted to book musical acts," co-owner of What Up Dawg Seth Tompkins says. "They are trying to provide an atmosphere on that block where you can go to multiple venues all at the same stop." 
 
The new space would operate as a "What Up Dawg Express" says Tompkins, offering an abbreviated menu from a 400 square foot location. The format would be similar to other food businesses on the block, and be believes the location would be a great fit for What Up Dawg. 
 
"With the convention center there and all those bars, its great, and it's about two blocks from the Capitol," Tompkins says. "And what I really like about this location is that it's a good location in July, and good location in September."
 
While plans for the new location are still pending, Tompkins says he hopes to open by August if possible. In addition to the new staff member hired to operate the hot dog cart that is open daily on the corner of Washington and Ottawa downtown, the express restaurant would create two new positions. 
 

Source: Seth Tompkins, What Up Dawg?
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Capitol City Scoop to open this week with MSU Dairy Store treats

Downtown Lansing's newest business brings something new as well as something familiar to the neighborhood. Capitol City Scoop will be downtown's only dedicated ice cream parlor, serving MSU Dairy Store ice cream and opened by the owner of Downtown Lansing's The Barberrettes and Coterie Purlieu, Felix Compos.
 
"I'm hungry," says Compos. "I think Downtown Lansing needs these businesses that I've chosen. The Lugnuts and other businesses sell ice cream, but no one specializes in it."
 
A longtime MSU fan with family connections to the university, when Compos started thinking about an ice cream store, he immediately thought of the MSU Dairy Store. It only took a phone call to get the partnership moving, and with the local creamery's involvement, Capitol City Scoop will serve more than just ice cream. 
 
"We're going to have a chef and he'll be doing some foods," Compos says. "Quick stuff you can eat for lunch. Some of it will be a little Southwestern. We're bringing in real tortilla from San Antonio."
 
Capitol City Scoop will have 12 to 16 flavors of ice cream, as well as cheeses and lunches made by the in-house chef. Similar to Compos other businesses, the shop has undergone significant renovation to fit his classy, signature style, including an upper level seating area.
 
The shop is set to open on Thursday with a grand opening planned for next Monday. Capitol City Scoop will employ a staff of up to six.  
 

Source: Felix Compos, Capitol City Scoop
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

New downtown law firm focuses on the arts and non-profits

A background in theater arts, non-profit administration and law may not be a conventional career path, but it's what has made Katharine Hude's new law practice, Hude Legal Services, so special. 
 
"I love working with non-profits and artists because of my background," Hude says. "It's part of what makes me a little unique in terms of what legal service I offer."
 
A Lansing native, Hude opened her Seymour Ave. business in February in a building shared by other legal practices and non-profits. Her specialty extends beyond offering legal advice to those in arts and non-profit community, but also consultant services such as strategic planning and communications planning. 
 
"I think there are a lot opportunities for artists and entrepreneurs in the Lansing area," says Hude. "The arts community is being looked at more and more in terms of economic development and attracting talent. It's important." 
 
Hude hopes to continue to grow her new practice in Downtown Lansing. She hopes Hude Legal Services might in the future have a staff that may provide non-profits with administrative services the organizations may not be able to afford to maintain in-house. 
 

Source: Katharine Hude, Hude Legal Services
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Michael's opens in former Brannigan Brothers space

Now on its third identity in the last year, the former Brannigan Brothers location in Downtown Lansing recently opened as a new restaurant and bar called Michael's. According to bartender Benjamin May, the new name comes with a classier atmosphere.
 
"We have a lot more top shelf alcohol," he says. " We're trying to attract a different crowd, a little bit older, such as the grad students at Cooley."
 
The restaurant's interior has been completely renovated since its time as Brannigan Brothers. Michael's now features live blues music on Wednesday nights and is also focusing on catering to sports fans with several TVs, as well as the local lunch crowd. 
 
Michaels currently employs a staff of approximately 14, and May says the new business has been busy since their opening in mid-March. 
 
"It's been a lot busier since the new owner has come in," he says. "We've got a pretty awesome staff."
 
May says Michael's hopes to soon add live music on the weekends in addition to Wednesdays. 
 

Source: Benjamin May, Michael's
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

MODI Gallery offers new option for local artists

It began with Brendan Martin's desire to find the right place to show his own work, but now into its second show on Michigan Ave., the new MODI Art Gallery has the potential to become much more. 
 
After moving back to the Lansing area where he grew up after living in Philadelphia and studying art in New York, Martin noticed a gap in the local arts scene.
 
"There are [local galleries] with older, more accomplished artists, and others that sell postcards and jewelry," says Martin. "There isn't a professional environment for young, emerging artists. We wanted to be a tradition style gallery with one show per month." 
 
Together with partner Pat Abood, Martin set about changing that with the 600 square foot space at 605 E. Michigan Ave. A former medical marijuana dispensary, the pair invested some serious time and elbow grease into the storefront to transform it into a gallery, aided by funds raised on Kickstarter. 
 
MODI Gallery opened with a showing of Martin's work on Feb. 1. A second month-long showing is now underway, and artists have expressed interest in showing in April as well. That all depends, says Martin, on how MODI continues to take shape as an organization, as he hopes it will become more of a community project than a proprietorship.
 
"We want to stay open and be able to let people show there," he says. "We're looking at how we can do that." 
 
Martin is optimistic about MODI's future. He and Abood have already partnered with such organizations as the Arts Council of Greater Lansing and Lansing Art Works. 


Source: Brendan Martin, MODI Art Gallery
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Renowned interior designer opens Downtown Lansing studio

Just when it seemed Downtown Lansing's 113 S. Washington Sq. couldn't get any more chic, the second floor of My Sista's Boutique is now the home of Kendra Dennis Designs, an interior design and event planning firm with a notable history in the industry.
 
Before arriving in Lansing, Kendra Dennis made a name for herself as "Designer of the Year" in 2003 by the American Society of Interior Designers, as well as the Certified Interior Designers in 2005. Dennis has appeared on HGTV’s Home and Garden Show and has been the featured designer on TV One’s hot renovation show, Divine Restoration.
 
"I think I always was kind of a designer, from a child," says Dennis. "I was always creating. It was a gift I already I had, and I turned it into a business."
 
The renowned designer grew up in Texas, but now joins her sister – My Sista's Boutique owner, Tina Robinson – in Downtown Lansing. Kendra Dennis Designs offers residential and commercial design, as well as special event planning
 
"Commercial is less stressful but my heart lies in residential," Dennis says. "It's an emotional renovation. I also do custom furniture design."
 
Kendra Dennis Designs opened in the 2,500 S. Washington Sq. space in December and celebrated their grand opening March 1. Dennis employs a staff of three, and also provides space for a boutique of her daughter's work, fashion designer Tanesa Peterson.

Source: Kendra Dennis, Kendra Dennis Design
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Wandering Waffles brings all-day breakfast to City Market

If you think waffles are sit-down-breakfast food only, the forthcoming Wandering Waffles at the Lansing City Market would ask you to think again. 
 
Samantha Wilbur says she always comes up with big ideas while her military husband was deployed, and every time he'd come home, he would talk her back down to earth. But when she came up with an idea for a food truck, he totally agreed. 
 
"I said, 'You're supposed to tell me no!'" says Wilbur. "But he said he thought it was a great idea, so I started looking into the process."
 
As the idea for Wandering Waffles developed, it morphed from a food truck concept to a Lansing City Market business. Wanting to serve the after-bar crowd, Wilbur decided a permanent location without restrictions on nighttime hours was the way to go.
 
What kind of waffles does one eat at 1 a.m.?
 
"We do bacon, deli meat and cheese," Wilbur says. "We also have a pizza waffle with homemade tomato sauce."
 
The homemade waffle toppings will also include more traditional flavors of caramel and marshmallow fluff, all made with as many local ingredients as Wilbur can get her hands on. Wandering Waffles will also offer gluten free waffles and toppings.
 
The 430 square foot City Market restaurant is expected to open soon, with Wilbur and two other workers behind the counter. The entrepreneur hopes to see the concept grow into multiple locations in the future. 
 

Source: Samantha Wilbur, Wandering Waffles
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Public Sector Consultants to move into 10,000 sq ft downtown space

Starting this summer, Lansing's Public Sector Consultants (PSC) will be closer to the action downtown. The public policy research and program management firm has leased more than 10,000 square feet in the 230 North building, formally the Michigan Dental Association. 
 
"We looked at a number of places downtown, and we were really excited because basically it was a blank canvas," says President of PSC Peter Pratt. "We liked being all on one floor and having windows everywhere, and we like the idea of starting anew there." 
 
PSC will move to the third floor of 230 North after 21 years in their W. Saint Joseph St. location. While the new location won't be much larger in terms of square footage, Pratt says the layout of the new space will allow the firm to make better use of the space, including having more open common area and expanded meeting space.
 
"We have a curved wall in the reception area we want to do something interesting with in the reception area," says Pratt. "It's exciting. It's just going to be sort of a more unified, sort of funky feel."
 
The new downtown space, which was leased with tenant representation by CBRE|Martin, will also embody PSC's commitment to thriving downtowns. While the office will allow the firm room for growth, Pratt says the 28-person business is focused on slow and steady growth, adding a net gain of two staff members over the past couple of years. 

Source: Peter Pratt, Public Sector Consultants
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

MSUFCU to open Sparrow branch, add six new positions

Sparrow Health employees will soon have a new location to do their banking with Michigan State University Federal Credit Union – and a convenient one, at that. In 2013, MSUFCU will open its tenth Mid-Michigan location inside the Sparrow Professional Building.
 
“MSUFCU has been serving the Sparrow caregivers for more than a year and we have many caregivers as our members,” says April Clobes, executive vice president and chief operating officer for MSUFCU. “It means easier access to MSUFCU for the caregivers with a convenient onsite branch location and opportunity to meet with our financial services representatives to answer questions and help with financial decisions.”
 
The new 1,200 square foot branch was announced after MSUFCU was chosen from among seven financial institutions that submitted proposals to become the financial services provider inside the Sparrow Professional Building. According to Clobes, MSUFCU will offer Sparrow employees more than a place to put their money.
 
“We will also work with Sparrow to provide financial education to all the caregivers on topics such as buying a first home, to understanding credit scores, to programs for youth members,” Clobes says.
 
The new branch will employ a staff of five full-time and one part-time worker. MSUFCU now has 169,000 members, including MSU and Oakland University staff, students, alumni and their families. 

Barfly Ventures to revive Lansing Brewing Company, add 50 jobs

Lansing Brewing Company closed its doors in 1914 when local prohibition laws were passed. It took 99 years, but Barfly Ventures of Grand Rapids will revive the historic downtown business, opening their own Lansing Brewing Company in the summer of 2013. 
 
“We have really strong ties as a company and as a family to East Lansing,” says Barfly Ventures owner Mark Sellers. “I got a call from Pat Gillespie about doing something in his building, and that got me thinking about doing one thing in Lansing and one in East Lansing.”
 
Lansing Brewing Company is now taking shape in an approximately 6,000 square foot space in The Gillespie Group’s Stadium District development on Michigan Avenue. The bar and restaurant will brew their own beer and have a full food menu. 
 
Barfly Ventures is also developing a bar in East Lansing called HopCat. Sellers says the Lansing area was an ideal location to expand his Grand Rapids-based operation because his project manager lives in East Lansing, and the distance is short enough for him to remain active in the businesses. 
 
“I feel I need to be present at my bars,” says Sellers. “I don’t like to be an absentee bar owner.”
 
Lansing Brewing Company will employ approximately 50 workers and is scheduled to open in the late summer of 2013. 
 

ACC Natural Healing brings seven wellness practioners to downtown

Talk about finding a silver lining: Though Karen Kraft was already somewhat nutrition-minded and a certified massage therapist in addition to her work in the non-profit sector, it wasn’t until multiple diagnoses of Hodgkin’s lymphoma that she really began to focus more on both.
 
“It was a catalyst for me to get into that even more,” Kraft says. “While I was in the hospital at U of M, I wrote a business plan.”
A few years and a career change later, Kraft brought her business plan to life with the opening of ACC Natural Healing and Wellness Solutions on Ionia Street in Downtown Lansing in August. 

“It’s a beautiful old Victorian house,” says Kraft. “It has such a warm, welcoming energy to it.”

ACC services include massage, acupuncture, reflexology, reiki and more by Kraft’s seven practitioners, and offers discounts for area firefighters and Cooley Law School students. ACC also recently began hosting free lunchtime mediation sessions in their downtown location.

The 2,800 square foot business opened August. The space includes a large, open space on the third floor utilized for group meetings, tai chi, guest speakers and more. As ACC continues to grow, Kraft hopes to widen her product inventory, as well as begin a fundraising system to help clients with multiple therapy needs to receive the most comprehensive care.
 

Gibson's Books opens 1,500 sq ft Gibby's Grinders, adds 4 jobs

Fans of Gibson’s Books and Beans in Downtown Lansing have even more to enjoy now that the bookstore has expanded into an adjacent 1,500 square foot space to open Gibby’s Grinders
 
“When they closed the cafeteria down at the school, which generated a lot ore people come over looking for places to eat,” says Dave Poquette, manager Gibson’s.” We did some brainstorming and thought a sub shop would be the best solution.” 
 
The location had been vacant for several years before Gibson’s began developing the idea of Gibby’s earlier this year. The new sub shop opened last week, offering both hot and cold sandwiches. 
 
“So far, so good,” says Poquette. “We’re just getting it going.” 
 
Gibby’s currently employs about four new workers, and Poquette plans to add additional varieties of grinders and soup to the menu soon.
 

Tripp Auto to open 1,600 sq ft downtown location, add three jobs

The Jackson-based Tripp Auto Shop has only had a Lansing presence since 2010, but is already finding a place in the community. The family-owned business that participates in a variety of Lansing-area cultural events is now expanding its footprint locally with a new office in Downtown Lansing
 
“The new location will be like a concierge,” says owner Phil Tripp. “We’ll do estimates and detailing there, and then bring vehicles out to our Main Street location for repairs.”
 
The 1,600 square foot location will open next week with three employees and will work in conjunction with the 18,000 square foot Tripp Auto Repair location on West Main. Tripp says the new office will help further the company’s goals of giving exemplary service to their customers. 
 
“Lansing has half a dozen really good body shops,” says Tripp. “It’s about building relationships, and that’s something you have to prove to people. That’s how we built our Jackson store, one customer at a time.” 
 
Tripp says his family’s business specializes in guiding people through the process of paperwork and policies following an accident. 
 
Tripp’s Auto Shop first opened in Jackson in 1988 and now employs about 40 workers between their Jackson and Lansing locations. 
 
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