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Travel Agent moves back to Downtown Lansing in 500-sq ft space

It’s been a tough decade for travel agencies. Between the same financial crisis all businesses had to contend with they have also suffered from the advent of Internet travel sites and a notable downturn in international travel after September 11, 2001.

Today, Craig Corey Vacations celebrates 20 years in business not only because they survived, but now they are back in growth mode. The agency, which once employed six in a large Downtown Lansing loft office, downgraded to a home-based business in 2002. Now, the agency is moving back to downtown, into a 500 square foot office in the Atrium Office Center.

“You really still need the visibility of a physical office,” says owner Craig Corey, “and I want to seize the opportunity to do so, but also, there is a renaissance occurring in Downtown Lansing, and I want to be a part of it.”

Corey is currently the only employee of his company, though he plans to expand his staff as the business continues to grow. He explains the resurgence of his industry as travelers having a renewed interest in learning more about where they’re about to go.

“We’ve had a huge a move back to professional travel planning,” he says. “There is so much information on the Internet. It might be factual, but it might not be realistic when it comes to your trip.”

Corey will move to the new location in mid-July. Craig Corey Vacations will be the only full-service travel agent in the City of Lansing.

Source: Craig Corey, Craig Corey Vacations

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

8,000 sq ft pet store offers unique services to pet owners

To say Laurie Griffith is big into pets is a bit of an understatement. In addition to holding a Master’s in Animal Nutrition, Behavior and Genetics, Griffith has worked as a trainer, breeder, exhibitor, groomer, veterinary assistant and behavior consultant for rescue groups nationally and internationally.

“A pet store just seemed like the logical step,” she says.

Her new, 8,000 square foot Eaton Rapids facility is just as comprehensive as her resume. All Creatures Great and Small Pet Resort, Spa and Canine Training not only carries specialty training and exhibition accessories and all the services the name implies, but also has a special focus on education.

“We have a pet education series once a month,” says Griffith, “often with topics suggested by clientele.”

As Griffith’s aim is to educate pet owners, not encourage impulse ownership, no animal are sold at All Creatures. At any given time, however, a variety of visiting pets can be found there, such as her children’s potbelly pig, rats or even a pair of tortoises who are best friends with a pair of bunnies.

“We wanted to open a local business and support the community’s pet needs,” Griffith says. That same impulse has led her to carry many Michigan-made items, such as homemade treats, heating pads and locally made toys.

All Creatures opened in December and celebrated its grand opening in March. The shop currently employs Griffith’s family members and supports an internship program, training two local students in pet care and training.

Source: Laurie Griffith, All Creatures Great and Small Pet Resort, Spa & Canine Training

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


$1.4M mixed-use project to bring 14,380-sq ft of new development to Michigan Ave

The corner of Michigan Avenue and Marshall Street in Lansing is about to get a long-awaited facelift.

“There hasn’t really been any new development on Michigan Ave on the east side outside of Sparrow,” says developer Scott Gillespie of The Gillespie Company of his proposed $1.4 million mixed used project. “This will be the first in many, many ears I’m excited to be a part of it.”

The finished product will be a 14,380 square foot, three-story building featuring 12 to 13 apartments and commercial space on the first floor. Gillespie has recently signed with Subway Restaurants as a tenant for about half of the commercial space. Approximately 2,000 square feet of commercial space is still available. The residential portion of the building will include a variety of studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments.

Gillespie had his eye on the property for years, as it is adjacent to a building he owns. He was able to purchase the property after it went into foreclosure and the Ingham County Land Bank took ownership.

The project has been approved by the Lansing Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, and Gillespie is awaiting final approval by the City Council.

“I’d like to start as soon as I get approval from the city,” he says. “I’d like to have it going by mid-summer.”

Gillespie plans to have to the project completed by the first quarter of 2012.

“I’m excited to change the landscape on the area,” says Gillespie. “And my hope is that it will spur more development on Michigan Avenue.”

Source: Steve Gillespie of The Gillespie Company

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2 announces completion of first project with $91,000 invested

It has been about a year since the NSP2 Consortium, a collaboration of entities including 20 Michigan municipalities and eight land banks, was awarded $224 million from the federal government to purchase and revitalize properties. Last week, the Ingham County Land Bank, MSHDA and the City of Lansing announced the completion of the first project funded by Lansing’s $17.4 million piece of the pie.

The newly renovated 520-square foot home is located at 1525 Hull Court where an open house was held Thursday to celebrate.

“The house they chose was in dire need of some help,” says Rebecca Eldridge of Rizzi Designs, marketing firm of the Ingham County Land Bank. “The neighbors have been so receptive to the project. Some of them have even been talking about renovating their own homes.”

The property now inspiring the neighborhood was purchased and renovated for $91,000 and will soon go on the market with a sale price of $54,000. It is a 5-star energy rated home with all new appliances.

“It’s a perfect house for a responsible college student, a young professional or a couple who just got married,” says Eldridge.

This is just the beginning for the NSP2 Consortium. The next property to be renovated is also located on Hull Street. The Consortium’s goal is to increase the supply of quality units that house low-, moderate-, and middle-income households.

Source: Rebecca Eldridge, Rizzi Designs

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

Creative Wellness expands into 8,000 sq ft space to support growth

Creative Wellness in East Lansing is growing in every conceivable way. The 21-year-old business that began with six partners is now a business staffed by 50. The growth will continue over the next several months as the wellness center adds services, jobs and moves into a new space three times the size of their current location.

"This is very exciting time to be involved in integrative medicine and holistic healthcare," says co-owner Christine Reay. "More and more people are understanding that need to be proactive with our health."

So many, in fact, that Creative Wellness will move into an 8,100 square foot space nearby their original 3,000 square foot location in April. The added space will allow for expanded services, including couples massages, as well as doubling the number of treatment rooms. CB Richard Ellis/Martin facilitated the company’s relocation to 2045 Asher Court in East Lansing. "We’re busy interviewing for additional staff," Reay says. "We expect to add ten jobs in the next year."

Reay and her Creative Wellness co-owner Irene Savoyat employ both support staff and practitioners of massage, acupuncture, oncology massage, chiropractic, yoga, tai chi and more.

Creative Wellness will celebrate the opening of their new location in April with an open house. Details will be available on the company website closer to the date of the event.

Source: Christine Reay, Creative Wellness

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

Sparrow Michigan Athletic Club Completes $400,000 in Renovations

The Sparrow Michigan Athletic Club (MAC), ranked sixth among the top 100 single-location health clubs in the country, has recently completed extensive renovations and enhancements including a new NBA-quality basketball court

It's also the only mid-Michigan club affiliated with a hospital.

"These investments, combined with the MAC's ability to integrate with Sparrow's wide range of clinical programs and services, advance our commitment to serve you as the region's most sought after fitness facility," says Sabarras George, executive director of the MAC, a division of Sparrow.

During the course of the last six months, the Michigan Athletic Club has now changed its logo, color and name to incorporate its long-standing relationship with Sparrow Hospital

Aside from the basketball court donning its new Sparrow-centric logo, the MAC also remodeled all four of its locker rooms, repainted the club and redesigned and resurfaced its gym floors.

The MAC has also launched an all-new website with an emphasis on user-friendliness in its design, including easy access to health-related information, programs and services available through Sparrow.

Source: Nicole Brillantes, Sparrow Michigan Athletic Club

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

Ingham County Land Bank and City of Lansing Construct New LEED Home

What do you get when you combine modern building science with passive solar techniques and universal design? You get an energy-conscious and accessible home like the one at 5219 Hughes Road in Lansing.

In an effort to combine sustainability, usability and modern design, the Ingham County Land Bank and the City of Lansing funded the 1232 square foot Hughes Road house project which was completed by Vesta Building Industries.

Vesta used Structural Insulated Panels for the outside shell, a high-efficiency condensing boiler for heating the radiant floor and domestic hot water.

Vesta also used materials that are healthy for the occupants of the home and friendly to the environment. The house will earn certification in the LEED for Homes program of the U.S. Green Building Council.

“We put a lot of time into this project to ensure we met the three principles to the best of our ability. This is not only an environmentally friendly home, it’s also the kind of home you can grow old in,” says Gene Townsend, the LEED AP for Vesta Building Industries.

The passive solar design uses south-facing glass with wide overhangs allowing the polished concrete floor to soak up the sun in the winter but be shaded from the intense summer sun. The home has also been designed to be wheelchair accessible.

The house is up for sale, and if you want to see it, the Ingham County Land Bank will be hosting its annual Community Holiday Party at the home on On Dec. 7, from 4 -7 p.m.

Source: Tony Beyers, Vesta Building Industries

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

Arialink Celebrates 400 Miles of Fiber Optic Network in the Lansing Region

Lansing-based Arialink — one of the largest fiber optic service providers in Michigan — is celebrating the connection of its 400th mile of fiber optic internet cable in the Capital region.

As the service anchor for the City of Lansing, Arialink fiber also supports the national corporate headquarters for Jackson National Life Insurance, TechSmith Corporation, Accident Fund, Delta Dental Insurance and Liquid Web Inc.

"We're out there every day, stringing up lines and micro-trenching fiber to completely overhaul the telecommunication infrastructure in Lansing," says Jason Schreiber, CEO of Arialink. "We want to bring world-class technology to every school and business in the Greater Lansing area. We need to stay competitive in the global economy — for today and for the future."

Currently in the process of adding more than 100 miles of fiber optic network, Arialink is rapidly expanding its coverage area in the Lansing region. Construction is underway to bring new fiber optic service to both Williamston and Webberville.

Source: Amber Shinn, Arialink

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

YMCA of Lansing Campaign Secures $2 Million to Renovate Four Local Facilities

After their most successful capital campaign of the past 50 years, the YMCA of Lansing raised $2 million which will be used for major renovations at its Oak Park, Parkwood, Westside and Mystic Lake Camp locations in the Capital region.

“This $2 million will be invested into four [of the] branches across Mid-Michigan, serving different communities, to get the most benefit out of the money being invested,” says Tony Fragale, president and CEO of the YMCA of Lansing.

“190 different donors contributed to this campaign," he adds, "which gives a great picture of the generosity of people . . . an impressive response to the Open Doors campaign during difficult economic times.”

The Open Doors capital campaign was launched three years ago in order to raise funds to improve facilities at YMCA of Lansing branches. As Fragale notes, the renovations will enable the YMCA of Lansing to expand its programs, keep pace with its growing membership and meet emerging needs within the community.

The work is expected to be completed at Oak Park, Parkwood and Westside around mid-December, in time for the New Year. The work at Mystic Lake is expected to begin sometime in January or February 2011.

Source: Erin Incarnati, Publicom

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

Just B Yoga Offering Community Classes in 650 Sq Ft REO Town Space

Tucked quietly in a space at 106 Island Ave. in REO Town, Just B Yoga offers yoga for people of all levels, as well as tai chi and meditation classes and programs to the community. What makes the establishment unique is that it is donation-only, so you pay what you can.

Owner Belinda Thurston aims to encourage participation and never wants money to be an issue.

“Yoga and tai chi are often the most needed in our underserved communities … [but] they are least accessible in these communities,” says Thurston. “Just B is about helping restore, heal and build community from its roots. That's what I see REO Town is doing and I love being a part of it.”

Just B Yoga’s programs have increased since its inception last spring, and will also begin offering power yoga classes, a restorative yoga class and a prenatal yoga class. There is also a Hip Hop Power Hour class, giving power yoga students a hip hop playlist.

“Please keep checking the website because the [programs are] expanding quicker than I can keep up with myself,” adds Thurston, playfully.

Source: Belinda Thurston, Just B Yoga

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


Innovative Online “REO Town Eats” Diner Design Project Kicks Off in Lansing

Have you ever wanted to have input on the development a new eatery in the Capital region? Imagine being able to suggest what’s on the menu, the interior and exterior decorations and even help name the place.

Well, thanks to developer Pat Gillespie and a group of local entrepreneurs, you can do just that through the REO Eats Project.

The project, which will be located at the former Dalmatian’s Firehouse Grill at 1107 S. Washington Ave. in REO Town, will use social media as a vehicle for creative community involvement.

The project is asking for input and feedback to determine virtually everything about the diner — from menu and pricing, to the theme, name and interior design.
 
“REO Eats represents the spark of innovative, entrepreneurial, community thinking that is going to bring REO Town back to life," says REO Eats team member Josh Hovey, who is an account executive at The Rossman Group.

"Yes, the diner is a small space. Yes, it’s a challenged area," he says. "But by creating the opportunity for the entire community to have a hand in creating the new diner, we’re going to increase our chances of success and hopefully people will want to continue to be active in seeing all of REO Town succeed.”

Input isn’t just being left to residents; people all over the world are encouraged to share their ideas through social media. The REO Eats Project will last 90 days. As far as the group is aware, the REO Eats Project is the first of its kind.

Source: Josh Hovey, REO Eats Project

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

Statewide Children’s Association Moves to 4,858 Sq Ft Space in Lansing

The Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children (MiAEYC) is moving from its Hagadorn location in East Lansing, to a 4,858 square foot space within the Capitol Commerce Center near the I-496 and Creyts Road interchange.

"We are excited about our move," says Keith Myers, executive director of MiAEYC. "The new location will allow us to provide enhanced services to the early childhood community."

The MiAEYC works with young children, their families and early childhood professionals to improve the education and welfare of children from birth through eight. This move will give them the space they need to facilitate programming and services better.

The nonprofit will move into its new space in November.

Source: Keith Myers, MiAEYC

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

IBM Expansion Means New 10,500 Sq Ft MSUFCU Branch in East Lansing

A new Michigan State Federal Credit Union branch will be opening in East Lansing at the intersection of Farm Lane and Mt. Hope. The new location was proposed after IBM — who is currently leasing office space at the MSUFCU Crescent Branch location — expressed interest in growing its staff and expanding to utilize the entire Crescent Branch facility.

“The Farm Lane location was selected due to its size, location, visibility and access on and off campus,” says April Clobes, executive vice president at MSUFCU. “It is a great location for our members that work on and off campus. Additionally, it is located on the MSU-CATA bus route.”

The Crescent Branch location will remain open until the construction of the Farm Lane Branch is complete. Open completion of the Farm Lane Branch, the staff at the Crescent Branch location will transition to the new space.

“This will be a win-win situation, as IBM is expecting to bring in new jobs for the community and hopefully hire MSU graduates. Any time we can create new jobs for our community it is a positive situation,” add Clobes.

Source: April Clobes, MSUFCU

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

E. Lansing Adds 1.4 Miles of Non-Motorized Pathways on Saginaw Street

In partnership with the City of East Lansing, the Michigan Department of Transportation administered the construction of 1.44 miles of eight-foot-wide, non-motorized pathways along the north side of Saginaw Street from Harrison Road to Stonegate Lane, and along the south side of Saginaw Street from Audubon Road to Alton Road.

"The Saginaw Pathways interconnects a number of businesses, school buildings and neighborhoods and provides alternative transportation means for pedestrians and bicycles to travel between destinations," says Todd Sneathen, director of the Department of Public Works for the City of East Lansing.

The completion of the Saginaw Pathways Project is a result of extensive planning and preparation from the City of East Lansing. More than five years in the making, the project broke ground in April of this year and was completed last month.

"The completion of this project has taken many years of planning and construction and we’re very excited see it finished,” says Sneathen.

Source: Todd Sneathen, City of East Lansing

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

Lighthouse Massage Center Moves to New Old Town Lansing Location

Looking for a rock star massage in Lansing? Well, Elizabeth Everett, founder and owner of Lighthouse Massage Center can certainly deliver.
She’s joined the likes of Alicia Keys, The Fray and Alice Cooper, and many others on tour, practicing her massage and yoga.

After moving from nearby Grand Ledge, Lighthouse Massage Center now offers its unique services at a convenient location next door to Hilltop Yoga Studio at 109 E. Grand River in Old Town

Everett is very excited to be in Old Town, and is taking additional yoga training at Hill Top. “My passion in life is to facilitate healing through massage and yoga,” says Everett.

Ahsiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy is one of the options available at the Lighthouse, and it’s one of the only places in Michigan you can get this type of massage.

And yes, bars are involved. Everett skillfully uses her feet to apply pressure along the back, glutes, hands, legs and feet.

Of course, if that isn’t your thing, she’ll also give you a regular massage.

Lighthouse Massage Center is open 9-5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Source: Elizabeth Everett, Lighthouse Massage Therapy

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


Cooley Law School Finishes First Phase of $6 Million Downtown Library Expansion

The first phase of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School’s $6 million Lansing campus library expansion is now complete. The space, known as the Center for Research and Study, amounts to a total of 63,924 square feet, including a second floor for future growth.

"There was a combined collaboration and effort between the City of Lansing, the Eyde Company and Cooley Law School to successfully coordinate many important parts of this project," says William Schoettle, chief operating officer and vice president for operations at Cooley.

"Part of the effort of this project is to upgrade the parking and provide an attractive physical connection between the law school, Capitol Ave., and Washington Square."

Following the expansion, the Thomas E. Brennan Law Library, 330 S. Washington Square, will nearly double in size to 138,927 square feet, becoming the nation’s second largest law school library in physical size.

"The new interior space serves as an oasis for students,” says Duane Strojny, Cooley's associate dean for library and instructional support. "The Center also connects the Cooley buildings, creating a more unified campus feel. “

Source: Terry Carella, Thomas M. Cooley Law School

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

Vesta Completes Construction of 1539 Sq Ft Green Home in Dimondale

Specialists in efficiency design and construction, Vesta Building Industries (VBI Homes) in Old Town have completed yet another energy efficient project. It took VBI 100 days to complete the project: a home located on the west bank of the Grand River in Dimondale.

“The green building mantra promotes local sourcing of building materials. This will always have a positive effect on local job stability,” says Scott Schmidt with Vesta Building Industries. “The other is through energy efficiency, which reduces the operating expenses of green buildings. Whether you operate a business or a residential structure, it is useful to have consistent monthly expenses.  The more energy a building uses, the more expenses will fluctuate with the energy markets.”   

Vesta Building Industries emphasizes that cost reduction isn’t the only benefit to energy efficiency. “An airtight building provides better interior control over temperature, humidity and pollution. This control allows us to provide a healthier more comfortable environment that can increase productivity, and an overall improvement in quality of life,” adds Schmidt.

Source: Scott Schmidt, Vesta Building Industries

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley

New AnQi Sushi Express Open For Business in Downtown Lansing

Thanks to AnQi Sushi Express, there is finally a place in Downtown Lansing for sushi-lovers to head to for a quick lunch, sushi on-the-go or some bubble tea.

After five years of making sushi for the Okemos branch of Meijer Inc., owners Steve Hsieh and Joanna Liu decided they were ready to open their own store.

“There is no sushi place [Downtown] and after my success at Meijer [it made sense to take the next step],” says Liu of AnQi Sushi Express.

Differing from other sushi establishments in the area, AnQi’s focus is to serve a “healthy, fast, fresh and delicious” alternative to lunch crowds, or those looking to get sushi as takeout. Some unique items on the menu include a sushi sandwich and sushi balls.

AnQi Sushi Express is located at 111 E. Allegan St, and is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Source: Joanna Liu, AnQi Sushi Express

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


New 700 Sq Ft Waterfront Bar and Grille Opens at the Lansing City Market

The Lansing City Market has long delivered wonderful local fare, and following tradition, now welcomes the Waterfront Bar and Grille, a casual dining experience with modern flair.

“While catching a quick lunch or enjoying one of our many microbrews or organic wines, customers are able to enjoy the City Market shops or a relaxing view of the Grand River on our patio,” says Robert Schleman of the Waterfront Bar and Grille.

The restaurant is housed in a 700 square foot space inside the market, with expansion plans for a second floor and dining overlooking the market. You can expect freshness and presentation, and the wares of many of the market vendors are used in the food prepared at the Waterfront.

“As we continue in this exciting vision of a new Lansing, we are cross marketing with various vendors to promote an awareness of local services and entertainment,” adds Schleman. “We are extremely honored to be a part of Downtown Lansing's rebirth in the new City Market.”

Source: Robert Schleman, The Waterfront Bar and Grille

Writer: Suban Nur Cooley 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


Gordon Food Service Opens New Location in Okemos

A national food distributor has opened its doors in Okemos after what store officials say are 20 years of requests from local customers.

Gordon Food Service, the nation’s fourth largest distributor, is celebrating its grand opening this week at 1851 Newman Rd., in the lot that used to house fast food restaurant Steak & Shake.

The 15,000-square-foot store specializes in bulk-sized items similar to membership stores like Costco, but without the required membership, says Manager Chris Zylstra.

GFS has long been an anchor store on West Saginaw Highway near the Lansing Mall but had never found the right time or location to open on the east side of the city.

Until now.

“The public has been asking for this for 20 years,” says Zylstra.

The store is fully employed with 25 sales associates, plus a managerial staff. Zylstra said the company normally receives 200 or so job applications in a market the size of Lansing but received 700 for the Okemos store.

Source: Chris Zylstra

Writer: Louise Knott ahern

Habitat for Humanity Teams Up with MSU and Whirlpool to House 100th Family

Habitat for Humanity of Lansing will build a house for its 100th family next month in a first-of-its-kind partnership with Michigan State University and the Whirlpool Corporation.

Construction on the home will begin on Sept. 11 – the 9/11 National Day of Service – and will end Oct. 15 during MSU’s Homecoming weekend. Habitat will then present the keys to the new homeowner, an MSU grad student and single mother of three, during MSU’s homecoming football game on Oct. 16th.

“We are very proud to have served 99 local families in need of affordable housing and look forward to reaching this milestone,” says Julie Burtch, Habitat spokeswoman. “This means that 100 families, including hundreds of children, are no longer living in substandard housing. Instead, they are homeowners in safe, affordable homes. We hope the community will continue to support us as we grow toward serving 100 more families.”

The build is part of the 2010 Whirlpool Building Blocks Initiative, the corporation’s signature philanthropy program with Habitat for Humanity. Since 1999, the company has donated more than 110,000 ranges and Energy Star qualified refrigerators to new Habitat homes.  

The home will be built in two phases. The first half will be constructed in the commuter lot on Mount Hope Road, and it will then be moved to its permanent location in Lansing.

When completed, the 1,000-square-foot house will have three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a full basement.

Source: Julie Burtch

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern

New Outdoor Bar Opening Next To Tin Can In Downtown Lansing

It’s game day, and you’d like nothing better than to sit on a deck somewhere, dig into a steak and enjoy a cold beer.

Now you can.

Construction is nearly finished on a new 1,000-square-foot outdoor bar next to the Tin Can and Harem Urban Lounge on Michigan Avenue near The Stadium District.

Managers of The Big Deck Bar — who also are partners in the Tin Can and Harem — envision a spot where people can kick back and relax like they do in their own backyards.

“We’re going to have these buckets of beer from the Tin Can so you don't have to run in and out,” says Dave Sell, one of the managing partners. “We’ll have a grill out there for game days, and we’ll roll out a big screen so you can watch the games.”

Though the Deck will be accessible from both the Tin Can and Harem, Sell said they’re billing it as its own bar.

“We’ll have street-level access, as well,” he says.

The Deck will have seating for up to 55. Sell says they plan to be open for business by the weekend of Aug. 6.  Updates are available on the Tin Can’s Facebook fan page.

Source: Dave Sell

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern


Entrepreneur Opens New Men's Clothing Shop in Downtown Williamston

Even men want a good deal on clothes, but finding them isn’t always easy.

But a new business in Williamston hopes to fill that gap. The Men’s Attic recently opened at 107 S. Putnam St. The storefront is part of the historic Keller’s Plaza location at the corner of Putnam and Grand River Avenue.

Owner Brooke Locke says she has always dreamed of owning a business in that location and vowed that if a reasonably-priced storefront ever opened up, she’d do it.

So when Fabinelli’s Candy Shoppe recently closed, Locke jumped at the opportunity. She just wasn’t quite sure what she would do with the space.

So after some market research, she realized that even though the region has several options for women’s consignment clothing, there were few if any stores dedicated exclusively to men’s consignment.

An idea was born.

“Men don’t want to have to sort through a lot of stuff to find what they’re looking for,” says Locke, who is on the board of the Williamston Chamber of Commerce and is also chair of the city’s zoning board of appeals. “We have quality clothing at really great prices.”

Her initial inventory includes top brands like Ralph Lauren, Tommy Bahama and Lord & Taylor, as well as several men’s suits.

Source: Brooke Locke

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern


1,700 Sq Ft Expansion of Gracie's Place in Williamston Will Mean 20 New Hires

Dawn-Marie Joseph had a simple philosophy when she opened her restaurant and coffee shop, Gracie’s Place, in Williamston two years ago.

Let the customers dictate the future.

What they wanted out their most recent move: A massive expansion that would more than double the size of the restaurant, allow Joseph to be open for dinner every day and – perhaps most importantly – make room for an actual kitchen.

“Our current kitchen is so small that we don’t even have a stove,” Joseph says. “We have a Panini grill, two soup pots, four hot plates and an oven. That’s how our chefs have been cooking everything.”

Gracie’s Place is located in a renovated historic building at 151 S. Putnam. Joseph purchased the vacant 1,700-square-foot building attached to her current spot earlier this year.  

When finished in August, Gracie’s Place will feature 2,700 square feet of restaurant and bar space and will be able to accommodate 80 people – up from 24.  

They will also be able to finally make full use of their liquor license. Gracie’s currently serves wine and beer, but the expansion will allow space for an actual bar.

Joseph is currently interviewing for the roughly 20 more staff people she will have to hire to handle the larger space and dinner crowd.

Source: Dawn-Marie Joseph, Gracie’s Place

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern


Greater Lansing Food Bank Takes Lease on Newer, Bigger Space

The Greater Lansing Food Bank is moving into a new building that will give them much-needed space for food distribution and its other programs.

CB Richard Ellis/Martin negotiated a lease for the food bank on a 5,631-square-foot building at 919 Filley St. in Lansing.

Executive Director Terry Link says the new space will allow the food bank to house all of its programs under one roof.

“This will make us more effective with the resources we have,” Link says. “We were crunched in space and our various programs were not under the same roof. It made communications a little more difficult.”

The food bank does not provide meals directly to individuals, but instead distributes food to a network of food pantries in Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties. Link estimates their services touch 70,000 people annually and help to move 3 million pounds of food.

The food bank is currently gearing up for its annual “gleaning” program, in which volunteers harvest fresh produce from area farm fields that would otherwise go to waste.

For more information, visit www.greaterlansingfoodbank.org

Source: Terry Link, Greater Lansing Food Bank

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern

New Clothing Boutique in East Lansing Caters to Campus Women

Michelle Gross knows that if you want to sell premium jeans, cocktail dresses and one-of-a-kind accessories, location matters.

Which is why Gross strategically decided to open her new clothing boutique, Jeanologie, just a few blocks away from a row of Michigan State University sorority houses in East Lansing. Her display window along M.A.C. Avenue can’t be missed by young women on their way to class or work.

“I was in a sorority at Michigan State, and I know how hard it can be to find cocktail dresses and other clothes for events,” Gross says.

Jeanologie opened July 1 in a 500-square-foot store at 303 M.A.C., across from the Marriott Hotel at University Place.

Gross offers a variety of sizes and brands – including BCBG, Kensie, Lucky Brand and Betsey Johnson.

“I don’t carry more than a few of each dress because I don’t want girls on campus running into each other wearing the same thing,” she says. “I carry a range of sizes, too. For a dress, I might have a size zero, an eight and maybe a 12.”

Gross is a graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in apparel and textile design. She is working with some of her former professors to offer current students a chance to carry their own designs in her store on consignment.

Source: Michelle Rose Gross, Jeanologie

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern


YouthBuild Project Unveils First Renovated Home On Emily Street in Lansing

A year ago, the house at 551 Emily Street in Lansing was an unlivable eyesore.

Today, it’s waiting for a new owner to move in, thanks to the work of a nonprofit partnership called YouthBuild.

The program trains high school drop-outs the craft of carpentry and home renovation while giving them a second chance at an education.

The Emily Street home is around 800 square feet and has two bedrooms and two bathrooms, says Brindley Byrd, program director. It’s the first of an expected five that YouthBuild participants will renovate while attending classes at Lansing Community College.

The program hosted an open house July 15 to show off the refurbished home. A second is expected to be finished by the end of summer, Byrd said.

“Our mission in YouthBuild is to give these young people the chance to restart,” Byrd says. “They now know they can do it. They can be successful in college, and they can fix something. They can take a house and turn it into a home.”

Of the roughly 20 teens and young adults who worked on the Emily Street home, 16 earned a certificate of completion from LCC, Byrd said. Seven or eight earned a GED.

YouthBuild is a cooperative program among Capital Area Michigan Works! and the Ingham County Land Bank, which donated the homes to be renovated.

The renovated homes will now be put on the market for low-income buyers.

Source: Brindley Byrd, Capital Area Michigan Works!

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern

Photo: Andrea Kerbuski

MSU Federal Credit Union Breaks Ground on New Downtown Branch

MSU Federal Credit Union is wasting no time on its plans to open a new branch inside a Downtown Lansing building that once housed a landmark restaurant.

Just one month after announcing that it was planning to buy the building at 104 South Washington Avenue – former home of Dimitri’s Restaurant – the credit union held a groundbreaking ceremony on July 19 to mark the beginning of construction.

MSUFCU jumped at the chance to buy the building because of its location, says April Clobes, vice president of marketing and e-commerce.

“This provides us with a store-front opportunity in a well-traveled intersection of the Downtown area,” Clobes says.

The new branch will open in early 2011, she said, and will provide between 15 and 20 new jobs in the Lansing region. Clobes says they’ll start hiring for the new positions within a month, and the new employees will spend several months in training.

Dimitri’s closed its doors in June after nearly 40 years in business. The restaurant took up half of the roughly 14,000-square-foot building, but MSUFCU will take up the entire building, Clobes says.

Source: April Clobes, MSUFCU

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern

WKAR To Begin Construction of New 1,000 Foot Broadcast Tower

It was once the third-tallest structure in the entire world, but the famed WKAR broadcast tower on Dobie Road in Okemos will be replaced over the next few months with a new antenna designed to improve radio and TV reception for public programming.

The Michigan State University Board of Trustees approved construction of the new, 1,000-foot tower at its June 18 meeting. It will be finished by January 2011, after which the original 1953 tower will be dismantled.

The new tower will improve reception quality for WKAR’s television programming and its AM and FM radio broadcast channels. All have suffered from poor signal strength since the federally mandated conversion from analog to digital, said Diane Hutchens, WKAR communications manager.

“We have lot of people in Eaton Rapids and Jackson to the south of us who have a difficult time picking us up, even with converter boxes,” Hutchens said. “These are people who depend on public broadcasting for a lot of their news programs and entertainment programs, and they are so frustrated.”

During construction, WKAR will periodically operate at a reduced rate and will alert viewers and listeners ahead of time.

Funding for the project comes from a variety of sources, including grants, private donations and matching contributions from MSU.

Source: Diane Hutchens

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern


Allen Neighborhood Center Introduces Eastside Summer Jazz Series

Get ready to jam on Lansing’s Eastside.

The Allen Neighborhood Center has received a $2,500 grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs to host a summer jazz series called, “JAM: Jazz on the Avenue and at the Market.”

The jazz series will feature young musicians from the area and provide performance opportunities for students in the jazz programs at Lansing Community College and Michigan State University.

But the broader mission of the program is to use music and the arts to spur further revitalization of Lansing’s Eastside neighborhood, according to Joan Nelson, center director.

“The Eastside is one of the truly walkable communities in our area,” Nelson said. “Michigan Avenue has more live music than any other street in town, but we were missing jazz.”

Upcoming performances include:
•    The Peter Nelson Band – 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., July 16, Gone Wired Café, 2021 E. Michigan Ave.
•    Jon Beshay and Ralph Tope – 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., July 21, Allen Street Farmers Market
•    Royce Phillips and Louis Rudnor – 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., Aug. 4, Allen Street Farmers Market
•    The Marcus Miller Band – 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., Gone Wired Café

Source: Joan Nelson

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern

$3,000 Grant Boosts Eastside Efforts To Promote Healthy Eating, Exercise

Sometimes, people need a little incentive to get moving and eat right.

Which is exactly what the folks in Lansing’s Allen Neighborhood Center hope to provide more of thanks to a grant from the Capital Region Community Foundation.

The neighborhood center received a $2,890 grant to support Market Walk, a program that offers people tokens for the neighborhood farmer’s market in exchange for walking.

The more steps a person accumulates, the more tokens they receive to use on fresh, healthy foods.

The center piloted the program last year and had such great response that they had a waiting list of 35 people to enroll this year, said Joan Nelson, center director.

She said the grant will allow them to double their enrollment this year to as many as 80 people.

“This program is really meant for people who are not already walkers or joggers or in some kind of regular exercise program,” Nelson said. “We wanted to give people an incentive. We encourage people to exercise and eat well.”

The Allen Street Farmer’s Market is held every Wednesday from 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. through Oct. 27.

It’s one of several programs sponsored by the Allen Neighborhood Center, an organization that promotes revitalization and activities on Lansing’s Eastside.

Source: Joan Nelson

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern

NEO Center Hosts Opening of New Art Gallery In REO Town

Can art be the catalyst for urban revitalization? Tom Stewart thinks so, and he’s ready to prove it.

As president of the Center for New Enterprise Opportunity (NEO) – a small-business incubator designed to spur neighborhood revitalization in Lansing – Stewart and his board of volunteers celebrated the opening of a new art gallery in REO Town July 9.

Art Alley will feature the works of local and regional artists with the hope of drawing more people to the historic strip of South Washington Avenue.

“Art is often at the core of urban revitalization,” said Stewart as he watched volunteers put the finishing touches on the 1,100-square-foot space. “REO Town in particular is important because it’s just south of Downtown, and there are a number of beautiful buildings down there. It would be a travesty if they were lost.”

The gallery space at 1133 S. Washington Ave. was renovated entirely by volunteers. Stewart’s company, Commonwealth Enterprises, will occupy attached 1,250 square feet of office space.

The gallery currently features the work of photographic artist Lewis Smith. A retired UPS driver, Smith’s work has been featured in galleries around the Capital region and is on permanent display at Lansing Community College.

New artists will be featured monthly.

Source: Tom Stewart

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern

Proposed $38 Million Triangle Project Hopes To Spark Walkable Development

A proposed mixed-use development project in Meridian Township has secured initial permission to proceed from the township and is now ramping up its marketing plan. The last step will be securing financing from lenders to start construction on the $35 to $42 million project.

The Triangle at Whitehills Village project would include a unique community/business center concept where people work and live. The proposed 18-building, 364,900 square foot site plan calls for seven townhomes with 39 units, eight work/live mixed-used buildings, two two-story office buildings and a 24,500 square foot market and culinary center.

“This is like an incubator on steroids for adults,” says Gil White of Gilbert M. White Realtor Inc.,

Located near Marsh and Lake Lansing roads in Okemos, White says this single project could set the tone for the rest of the area.

“This project is kind of a tipping point for the whole corridor, which now includes a Meijer and Rite Aid,” says White. “The area is going big box.”

White says the Triangle models a different style of development that places more emphasis on walking rather than cars, encourages social interactions and provides business space for New Economy entrepreneurs. It's also located on a brownfield site, and loaded with green features: all buildings will be LEED-certified and parking lots will be made of pervious pavement that allows water infiltration.

Source: Gil White

Writer: Andy Balaskovitz

Hilltop Yoga Grows Into Additional 800 Sq Foot Space, Adds Third Location

Adjacent to their current Old Town location at 108 E. Grand River Ave., Hilltop Yoga now rents 800 additional square feet of space at 110 E. Grand River Ave., making room for specialized yoga classes and massage therapy. Luckily, the former tenant of the 110 address was a wood carver, so the interior was already decorated with hand-carved woodwork.

“We are so thankful [for] how nice it is,” says Hilltop business manager and instructor Annie Topie. “It’s beautiful.”

The new location opened June 7 and is used for specialized or private yoga classes as well as massage therapy, a service Hilltop wants to emphasize in their business. “This is a nice massage environment, and there is always room to grow,” says Topie.

They are also fans of their surrounding environment. “Old Town is such a unique area, and it’s getting busier. We want to contribute to that, too,” Topie says.

With more than 35 instructors, Hilltop offers 60- to 90-minute classes seven days a week at their Haslett and Old Town locations. Hilltop’s repertoire now includes meditation, massage and various styles of introductory and advanced yoga classes.

“We try to offer a range for beginners up to experts because we want our customers to feel comfortable,” says Topie, who has been an instructor at Hilltop for three years.

Source: Annie Topie

Writer: Andy Balaskovitz

Habitat for Humanity Sells Fifth Home in Lansing's Northtown Neighborhood

Habitat for Humanity Lansing has just sold its fifth house in three years in Lansing’s Northtown neighborhood. Since 1987, the organization has rehabilitated or built 84 homes in the area.

The latest home, located at 1433 Massachusetts Ave., was donated to Habitat for Humanity by a private resident in 2008. It was in near-complete condition, which is rare for homes donated to Habitat for Humanity, says Executive Director Denise Paquette.

“This was a phenomenal donation,” says Paquette. “I hope people think positively about the person who donated this house.”

It is appraised at $97,000 after more than 200 Habitat for Humanity volunteers made renovations. Features include three bedrooms, two bathrooms, full kitchen amenities and a washer and dryer in the 1,100 square foot home.

The home is to be bought by Angel and Amanda Bonilla, high school sweethearts and first-time homebuyers with two children. Angel works in restaurants while Amanda does in-home healthcare, says Paquette. They are required to pay a maximum of 30 percent of their income toward the house, and will receive a $12,000 grant from the Michigan State Housing and Development Authority (MSHDA) to help cover costs.

“The Bonillas are thrilled beyond thrilled,” she says. “This is one of the biggest investments a family can make to move up and now they have that opportunity.”

Source: Denise Paquette, Habitat for Humanity Lansing

Writer: Andy Balaskovitz

North Lake Lansing Park Stays Natural Thanks To $2.83 Million Acquisition

One hundred and twenty acres of mature woodlot and healthy wetlands have been secured for $2.83 million, thanks to the help of a state Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) grant and a generous community.

The Lake Lansing Park North property in Meridian Township was formerly owned by HDI Builders of Okemos, but now belongs to Ingham County. Donations to match 30 percent of the DNRE grant came from 1,000 people in the community, Meridian Township Land Preservation Advisory Board, Ingham County and the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.

“The process has taken a while, but people in the community really are thrilled,” says Karen Fraser, financial coordinator for the Ingham County Parks Department.

The parks department will maintain the land with help from local non-profits.

Characteristic of this southern border to Lake Lansing Park North are the wetlands, mature hickories and oaks, sandhill cranes and white horned owls, as well as hiking trails.

And, of course, the solitude.

“It is really a neat nature park,” Fraser says. “Cars zip down Marsh Road and you can’t hear anything back there.”

She doesn’t anticipate any changes to the 120 acres now that the county owns it.

“This is not a place we would develop,” she says. “It will remain a natural area.”

Source: Karen Fraser, Ingham County Parks Department

Writer: Andy Balaskovitz

Photo: Courtesy of Ingham County Parks Dept

Lansing Food Organizations Join Forces in 5,000 Sq Ft North Lansing Space

The Greater Lansing Food Bank, the Garden Project and Food Movers all once had offices scattered around in various sites around Lansing. In an effort to get all three programs under one roof and to improve communication between them, they now share a single office space in north Lansing.

The Food Bank and Garden Project spent 10 years sharing offices in the Ingham County Health Department building in South Lansing, while Food Movers was at the corner of Pennsylvania and Grand River avenues.

The new building is about 5,000 square feet of office and warehouse space and allows the programs more flexibility and efficiency in labor, says food bank Director Terry Link.
Employees are still getting settled at the new facility, 919 Filley St., but plan to host an open house in June.

“We used to be scattered—now we are all in one place,” he says. “This makes us more efficient and effective.”

There was a roughly 50 percent increase in the number of Lansing community gardens last year, led primarily by efforts from the Garden Project. Last year there were 45; this year there are 70.

There is also conversation about redeveloping larger plots to make them more like urban farms. All of this is part of the Greater Lansing Food Bank’s efforts to bring more healthier, local foods to those in need, says Link.

Source: Terry Link

Writer: Andy Balaskovitz

Site Dedication Ceremony Supports New Barrier Free Playground at Potter Park

Lansing's Potter Park will have a few new additions in the future, including a Flippopotamus and a fish called the Big Kahuna. No, they are not being added to the Potter Park Zoo, but to the Park itself, and they are not animals, but playground structures.

CASE Cares, part of CASE Credit Union will host a site dedication for the barrier-free playground, to be built when the remaining funds are secured. "CASE Cares is in the process of raising money," says Kathy Devine of CASE Cares. "[We're] hoping to build next spring."

Devine says the site dedication is the first step in building the playground. The goal is to make the community aware that the project needs money.

She says the event is not a fundraiser, but that they are looking for donations. Those who donate have the option of naming parts of the playground, including the equipment. Devine says that sponsored equipment will feature a plaque bearing the name of the sponsor.

The focus of the playground is to built a play space for special needs children and their families. “It will have a special surface, spongy, easier for wheelchairs and walkers,” says Devine.

Source: Kathy Devine

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan

Red Cedar Friends Build New $750,000 LEED-Certified Meetinghouse in Old Town

The Red Cedar Friends have built a brand new meetinghouse in Lansing's Old Town. The 4,500 sq. ft. building is located at 1400 Turner St.

“Red Cedar Friends [Quakers] have met in rented space since the late 1940’s,” says Susan Waltz. “As a faith community, we have long wanted a home of our own.”

The project, including the property, cost $750,000. The new building features a main meeting room, a social hall, a kitchen and two class rooms. Waltz says the building was designed by Tim Mrozowski, a professor in the Michigan State University School of Planning, Design and Construction.

The journey toward the completed meetinghouse was a long one. Looking for property started in 2001, and the lot on Turner St. was not purchased until 2005. The official groundbreaking was in Oct. 2008.

“The building is registered as a LEED project,” says Waltz, “and when all the paperwork has been submitted and reviewed we hope to obtain silver or gold status.”

Keeping the project local was another focus, “To the extent possible, we used local suppliers, local contractors, and local materials.”

The Red Cedar Friends will have an open house on Sat. May 22, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Source: Susan Waltz

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


Williamston Farmers’ Market Will Open Seventh Season With More Vendors

The City of Williamston’s Farmers’ Market will open for its seventh season on Thurs. May 20. The hours of the market are 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., and it will be open every Thurs. until Oct. 14.

The grand opening will feature several special highlights. “There will be live music near the end of the market day and children activities from the local libraries,” says Christine Miller, the market manager. This is Miller’s second season with the market. The number of vendors this season will be 10 to 15, an increase over last year.

Miller says the inspiration behind starting the market was “to bring commerce to the downtown area and to provide the community a source of local fruits and vegetables.”

Miller says that the people of Williamston are supportive of the market. “Many people are wanting to learn more about how products are grown and they want to know where their food is coming from and who is raising it.”

Miller advises shoppers to keep coming back. “Please visit the market throughout the season," she says, "as products and vendors will change as the season progresses."

The market is set up in Williamston’s City Hall parking lot.

Source: Christine Miller

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan

Leslie Invests $13,000 To Secure and Improve Local Recycling Center

Leslie is moving and improving its recycling center. The new center will feature a concrete slab large enough to hold five bins, and a six foot privacy fence.

"We will start it as soon as we get appropriate permits and design work completed," says Brian Reed, City Manager of Leslie.  Reed estimates the cost to be in the range of $13,000.

"We have worked with Northwest Refuse on our recycling center for several years. It provides a very useful service to our community and we support the use of recycling," says Reed.

"We are moving the site to free up our public parking lot [and to] keep a closer eye on it," says Reed. "Unfortunately, we have had a rash of people who are not courteous with how they use the recycling area and we want to prevent it from becoming a larger problem." Improper use of the current recycling center has led to blowing trash and citizens leaving materials on the ground.

Despite problems in the past, Reed is optimistic about the new and improved location.

"We encourage people to report any misuse of the recycling center, and we are hopeful that moving the location will help alleviate some of the problem."

Source: Brian Reed

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan

Streetscaping and Improvement Plan For Michigan Ave Corridor Moves Forward

The section of Michigan Ave running from the Capitol building in Downtown Lansing all the way to East Lansing could look different in the future. Improvements to the corridor are still being discussed and planned, and a "unified vision for future developments of Michigan Ave" is on the horizon, according to Ken Szymusiak of the Lansing Economic Development Corporation.

There will be enhancements to the corridor's infrastructure, including new curbs, trees, benches and improved streets. Szymusiak says the goal is to have Michigan Ave "unified from the Capitol to East Lansing," with the focusing being on the "attractiveness" of the corridor's streetscape. A CATA study was done on transportation plans so that nothing is overlooked.

Szymusiak says there is nothing concrete yet, but that those along the corridor are making recommendations and seeing "block by block what could be done." Coordinating the look of Michigan Ave along the planned route is the key, as is maximizing the area. "We want to spur future development," says Szymusiak.

Street lights, flowers and more will be taken into consideration for the potential new look of Michigan Ave. Szymusiak says the key is to "think long term" when it comes planning and implementing any changes.

Source: Ken Szymusiak

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan

Delta Dental Receives Environmental Award for Work on Pond and County Drain

Delta Dental in Okemos (4100 Okemos Road) received an Environmental Stewardship award from Meridian Township last week. The award was in recognition of Delta Dental's environmental efforts as it adds a second building to its 57-acre campus.

The project broke ground in 2008 and will be completed in 2011. The total cost of the project will be between $80 million and $90 million.

In addition to a second building, the project includes a new data center and an expansion to the Delta Dental Pond, which is also the county drain. New plants and trees are being added to rejuvenate the setting of the campus.

"Many people have seen our amazing new building rising from the ground during the past year, but that may have overshadowed some tremendous work that was accomplished at ground level, and below, with the renovated pond and county drain," says Ari B. Adler, communications administrator for Delta Dental of Michigan.

The new trees, flowers and grasses will take some time to grow in and complete the new look of the campus.

"Things will still look a little scruffy for a couple of years," says Adler, "but what you’ll see here after the plantings take hold will be well worth the wait."

Source: Ari B. Adler, Delta Dental

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan

Photo: Becky Johns

Burchfield Park in Holt Plans to Add New 100 Sq. Ft. Children's Garden

A new addition is coming to Burchfield Park in Holt: a Children's Garden. "The garden will be 100 sq. ft. and [will be] located near the toboggan hill," says Megan Allen, a naturalist at Burchfield Park.

The garden will be comprised of three raised beds, 3 ft. by 8 ft. each, and two play structures. Allen says that each of the beds will have a theme. One is a "Tomato Soup" bed, featuring a variety of vegetables. Another is a Butterfly/Hummingbird bed with plants designed to attract flying and crawling fauna, such as fennel and dill. The third bed is for "Fantastic Blooms," with unique flowers like Bleeding Hearts and Chinese Lanterns.

The play structures will feature Russian Mammoth sunflowers, which can grow up to 12 ft. in height, snapdragons and even edible nasturtiums.

Allen says the total cost of the garden will be less than $100, with most of that cost going toward seeds and tools.

"All the wood for the structures is reclaimed wood from around the park, and nearly all the soil and fertilizer have been donated by great community organizations such as the Get Mint Trading Company, Sundance Riding Stables, [and] the Greater Lansing Food Bank's Garden Project."

Source: Megan Allen

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan

Michigan State University's Case Hall Slated For a $16 Million Renovation

Changes are coming to Michigan State University's Case Hall, home to the James Madison College and to the Honors College. Upon completion, Case will handle the main food service options on the campus' south side. With the Skandalaris Football Center nearby, Case will be the main dining venue for athletes.

"We will be renovating [Case] extensively," says Mitch Watt, vice-president of Grand Rapids-based Triangle Associates, which will be providing construction management for the project. "There will be a focus on food service." Case Hall will feature a 30,000 sq. ft. refurbishment valued at $16 million.

Case Hall will receive an 8,000 to 10,000 sq. ft. addition in addition to a complete remodel. There will be six food service venues, including an all-you-can-eat buffet. Included in the plans are an 850-seat main seating area as well as a retail beverage outlet.

Triangle, in the role of construction manager, will oversee pre-construction, planning strategy and contracting duties.

"[We're] just finishing designs and they should be done by October," says Brent Gibson, a senior project manager.

This is not the first time MSU has hired Triangle for construction and renovation. “We did Owen Hall with success and they brought us back," says Gibson, and the Case Hall team is the same team that worked on that project.

Source: Anne Rothwell, Mitch Watt, Brent Gibson at Triangle

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan

For-Profit Organic Farm Coming to The Beaumont Development in East Lansing

An organic farm is coming to East Lansing. The farm would be located at The Beaumont, a property being developed by the Gillespie Group between Coolidge and Chandler Roads.

The farm "will start out small, with vegetables and flowers," says Darcy Schmitt, East Lansing's planning and zoning administrator. She describes it as a "franchise farming operation," and says the goal of the for-profit farm would be to sell its crop to local restaurants. Whatever produce is not sold will be donated to local food banks.

The farm would utilize about five acres of land near The Beaumont and "will be a great asset to the tenants," says Schmitt. The Beaumont features a mix of houses, condos and apartments.

Because the land was not originally zoned for agricultural use, Schmitt says the farm had to get the "go ahead from the [East Lansing] City Council," adding that the farm "will have the same restrictions as any agriculture practice in Michigan."

Schmitt says the farm wants to get going "as soon as possible" after the rezoning issue is resolved and "seeds have been purchased." School groups will be invited to the farm once it is up and running, for a hands-on learning experience.

Source: Darcy Schmitt

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan

$22-$24 Million Restoration Proposed For 190,000 Sq Ft Knapp’s Building

Anyone who’s spent significant time in Downtown Lansing has at least mentioned the Knapp’s building, the iconic 1930s former department store located at 300 S. Washington.

After roughly eight years of vacancy, the Eyde Company, which owns the building, is attempting to restore the 190,000 squire foot structure—to the tune of $22 to $24 million
—and turn it into office space, retail space, apartments and a business incubator. A new restaurant is also a possibility.

“The Knapp’s Centre has been largely underutilized for the past 20 years,” says building developer Nick Eyde, who is the project manager for the development. “It’s steeped with history and is truly one of Lansing’s most beautiful and unique buildings. We’re thankful for the chance to finally put it back to prominent use.”

The project is contingent on the approval of more than $19 million in outside financing and tax breaks, but Mark Clouse, CFO and general council for the Eyde Company, says he’s confident the project will move forward with construction potentially beginning in the summer of 2011.

Clouse says the company has been working on the conception of the redevelopment for several years, but that the necessary pieces needed to renovate the building have fallen into place.

The recent Ignite 3.0 event at the Knapp’s emphasized resident interest in the renovation, he says.

“It showed us the amount of enthusiasm there is for the building and for being Downtown,” he says. “It did have an impact. It kind of solidified our willingness to make an investment.”

The first floor of the building is scheduled to be parking space. The incubator will take up an estimated 10,000 square feet of space. The upper floor is slated to be residential space. and the Eyde Company will move its 50 employees into new office space.

To read Capital Gains' previous article about the building's potential, click here.

Source: Josh Hovey, Rossman Group

Writer: Ivy Hughes

New Prep School Targets Young Professional Parents in Downtown Lansing

Little Scholars Preparatory School will be opening its doors in Downtown Lansing in late April or early May.

The school is "very small and elite," says founder and owner Audrey Pallone. "We are only taking four kids under the age of two-and-a-half, and 12 over the age of two and a half."

Pallone invested $12,000 into a three-story building located at 416 W. Ottawa. The bulk of the investment went toward getting the building up to code. The children will only occupy the 1,000 sq. ft. first floor, and Pallone says, "we're making sure the fixtures are safe for kids."

"Local day cares have waiting lists," she says of her inspiration to open the school. A lack of day care options Downtown was another reason.

"There is a big crowd of young professionals in stages of having kids," Pallone says. Her focus is to target professionals that work Downtown with extended hours: 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. "That helps parents who have different hours," explains Pallone.

"There will be three teachers," explains Pallone, each certified and licensed to teach in Michigan. "Your child is going to be learning," says Pallone, who taught first grade for five years at a charter school. The curriculum will feature reading, math, writing and music, as well as character education.

Little Scholars is located at 416 W. Ottawa, half a block West of the Capitol. Online enrollment is open now.

Source: Audrey Pallone

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan


Grand Ledge Cycle & Sports Moves to 9,000 Sq Ft Building, Adds Equipment

Sean O’Connor, of Grand Ledge Cycle & Sports, is not only expanding the physical space of his business, he’s also expanding the line of products and services he offers.

“When I started the company I wanted the name to include ‘sports’ because I knew we’d want to expand beyond bicycles,” says O’Connor.

Now O’Connor has the space to grow. He recently moved his business to 221. S. Bridge St., a 9,000 square foot space that's a significant increase from the 2,000 square feet of floor space he had at his former location nearby. The new facility also allows for plenty of storage space.

O’Conner started his business selling bicycles, but now sells snowboards, snowshoes, climbing gear, kayaks and other athletic equipment.

“Anything that people do in Grand Ledge, I’m going to do it here,” he says.

O’Connor has been selling bikes since the 1990s. He also repairs bikes and sells a significant amount of merchandise on eBay.

“I really wanted to stay local here in Grand Ledge,” he says about keeping his business in the region.

Source: Sean O’Connor, Grand Ledge Cycle & Sports

Writer: Ivy Hughes


Okemos Adventure Company Packages Statewide and Capital Region Treks

Ready to take recreational advantage of Michigan's resources and existing outdoor activities, Kevin Karpinski launched Okemos-based Green Planet Extreme Adventure Tours, an adventure tour company focused on fun, sustainability and community service.

Green Planet Extreme Adventure Tours focuses on transportation and guide services, taking adventurers to their destination, finding guides for adventurers and picking them up when the adventure finishes. Adventures could include snowshoeing, back packing, cycling, water tours and brewery tours, to name a few. These tours are being created throughout the state.

Green Planet Extreme Adventure Tours was launched in February 2009, but will have its official grand opening in the spring or summer.

“Within the last couple of months the state came up with adventure tourism to attract entrepreneurs and in the meantime, we’ve launched our business and website,” he says.

Karpinski also gives a portion of proceeds from the tours to varying community groups. For example, a portion of the proceeds for the upcoming Lansing-based water tour (Feb. 6) will go to the Grand Learning Network.

Karpinski says he’s working with local developers to find a permanent location for his offices, but adds that he may be able to operate the company from his Okemos office for some time.

“We want to make this the heart of Michigan in Lansing,” he says. “We were born and bread in Michigan and we’re pretty excited about this.”

He also has locations in Ludington and wants to add kiosk locations throughout the state.

Source: Kevin Karpinski, Green Planet Extreme AdventureTours

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.


New Riverside Family Practice Opens in Eaton Rapids Medical Center

To better serve the medical needs of Eaton Rapids area residents, the Eaton Rapids Medical Center opened the new Riverside Family Practice at 2487 S. Michigan Rd.

The practice officially opened in June 2009, but is experiencing sizeable growth.

“We’re very busy and it happened a lot faster than we anticipated,” says Nancy Staffeld, vice president of Patient Services for the Eaton Rapids Medical Center.

Staffeld is hopeful that the medical center will earn a rural health clinic designation, which would allow Riverside Family Practice physicians to receive greater reimbursement for serving Medicaid and Medicare patients, giving these patients greater access to health care.

The Riverside Family Practice is a family practice, but also offers internal medicine and pediatric care. The new practice has three exam room as well as lab services.

Source: Nancy Staffeld, Eaton Rapids Medical Center

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.


Lansing Unveils Plans for $3.2 Million Waterfront Beautification Project

The City of Lansing is actively designing an improvement plan for the Grand River waterfront that runs along the new Accident Fund and City Market properties in Downtown Lansing.

The new design includes improved walkways, lighting, seating and natural beautification. It’s part of a $3.2 million Clean Michigan Initiative grant, which is administrated by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

“This project is meant to turn this into a riverfront that is inviting and walkable and bikeable and an awesome place to experience in the City of Lansing,” says Chad Gamble, public service director with the City of Lansing.

The City of Lansing is going for a “contemporary” plan that will include a new walkway in front of the Accident Fund property on the westside of the river.

“We’ll put in some irrigated planters and trees to really beautify the area,” Gamble says. “We really want to create an awesome sense of place in the city’s really core area.”

Construction is expected to begin by the end of March.

Source: Chad Gamble, City of Lansing

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.


EPA Recognizes City for $1 Million Rain Garden Development

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently selected the City of Lansing’s rain garden project to be a part of its “Implementing Smart Growth Streets” study.

The EPA intends to use the study to explore how the chosen cities implemented green practices and share those best practices with other communities. The project is one of only 12 selected projects.

“We feel very honored and respected to be included in that,” says Chad Gamble, director of Public Services for the City of Lansing. “It’s a real testament to the team we have formed to put this program together.

In 2006, the City of Lansing embarked on what is now a $1million rain garden project. The first 23 rain gardens were constructed along Michigan Avenue as a way to improve environmental quality, but also to beautify the concrete corridor.

Gamble’s been traveling around the country talking about the City of Lansing’s rain gardens. He says the city’s rain gardens are unique because other cities with equally harsh climates have had a difficult time implementing rain gardens throughout their cities.

“What we’ve done is build rain gardens to break up concrete in a very harsh environment,” he says.

The city has also added 12 rain gardens of varying size and planter islands to the 200 and 300 blocks of Washington Square in Downtown Lansing.

“This creates gathering spaces,” he says. “It offers up a softening of the atmosphere.”

Source: Chad Gamble, City of Lansing

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


East Lansing Adopts Michigan's First Community Green Building Policy

The City of East Lansing council has approved a new Green Building Policy. This innovative policy will ultimately lead to an increase in environmentally friendly public and private development within East Lansing’s city limits in the future.

“This policy makes East Lansing the first community in Michigan to condition our economic development incentives on LEED certification,” says East Lansing councilmember, Nathan Triplett. “We are leading the way in the promotion of sustainable building practices. The policy will make our city a hub for green development in a market where consumers are increasingly looking for green options.”

Along with LEED certification requirements that differ for public and private development, the new Green Building Policy also encourages all new private developments in the City to incorporate LEED or similar green building practices, such as ENERGY Star certification, and low impact design elements.

“In addition to a strong environmental case for this new policy, there is a rock solid business case. LEED certified buildings typically cost zero to two percent more to build, but result in a 20 percent energy costs savings over the life of the structure," says Triplett. "In other words, on a percentage basis, the return on investment is ten times the initial cost. Green buildings help reduce carbon emissions, water usage, electricity usage and lower utility costs for consumers."

Source: Nathan Triplett, City of East Lansing

Suban Nur Cooley, interim development news editor, can be reached here.


East Lansing Plan to Finish $1.7 Million Pathway Project In 2010

In the spring of 2010, the City of East Lansing will start the last phase in a five-year, $1.7 million public pathways development project.

“This provides a linkage,” says Todd Sneathen, director of Public Works for the City of East Lansing. “We have very few east-west routes throughout the city.”

The project was designed to increase sidewalk access and safety for pedestrians along major thoroughfares. The Saginaw Pathways Project will result in an additional 1.4 miles of sidewalk on each side of Saginaw Street.

“The City has a vested interest in making Saginaw Street more pedestrian and bicycle friendly for public school children, Michigan State University (MSU) students and others that regularly travel along that corridor,” says East Lansing City Manager Theodore Staton. “We’ve spent a lot of time behind the scenes laying the groundwork for this project and are excited to see it included in plans for the 2010 construction season.”

The Saginaw Pathways Project is the final piece of the project and is scheduled to begin in April 2010. Completion is slated for August 2010.

Source: Todd Sneathen, City of East Lansing

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.


First Stage of $800,000 Gier Community Center Renovation Complete

The first portion of an $800,000 renovation to the Lansing-based Gier Community Center is complete, providing additional gym space and spectator seating for community members.

“We were able to make our facility safer by giving spectators a place to sit,” says Gier Community Center Director Brett Kaschinske. “In doing that, we were able to add a few features including two more basketball courts and a batting tunnel.”

Gier Community Center hosts youth basketball programs, floor hockey teams, after-school programs, summer camps, teen programs and aerobics classes. Kaschinske says the center’s been in need of a renovation since its inception in 1975 and has been building a construction budget for the last several years.

“It’s an $800,000 investment, but our total costs aren’t up to that right now. But we are doing some other things,” he says.

Renovations started in June. In October, the Gier Community Center held an open house to celebrate the new gym space. Kincaid Henry Building Group worked on the project.

Source: Brett Kaschinske, Gier Community Center

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.


Entrepreneur Opens 400 Sq Ft Ledges Therapeutic Massage in Grand Ledge

Not long after finishing school, Eric Billsen opened a 400 square foot massage therapy business in Grand Ledge.

Ledges Therapeutic Massage is located at 213 N. Bridge St. Owner Eric Billsen specializes in relaxation, Swedish and deep tissue massage.

“You can make people feel better just by touch,” says Billsen. “I fell in love with it (massage) and I can’t see myself doing something else.”

This is not Billsen’s first shot at business. Several years ago, he started a Lansing-based truck driving business that he’s since handed over to his father.

Billsen moved to Washington for a few years, but moved back to Michigan to be closer to his family.

“I’m a sentimental type,” he says. “I grew up here and I love having a foundation. I’ve always been really big into my family.”

Billsen says that for now, he’d like to remain a sole proprietor.

Source: Eric Billsen, Ledges Therapeutic Massage

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.


DeWitt Creativity Group Developing 3,200 Sq Ft Arts and Technology Center

A group of high school students and some very dedicated advisors are working on developing a 3,200 square foot arts and technology center on the second floor of the Riverview Office Center in DeWitt.

“We were talking about the possibilities of locating a creative area where students could express their creativity and also try to get some space for them to start a business after they’ve gone through high school,” says Jason LaFay, faculty advisor for the DeWitt Creativity Group (DCG).

The DCG was created to connect creative high school students to the community and entrepreneurship. The group was founded last year. Although the group currently only occupies a portion of the 3,200 square foot space, it has big plans to use it all.

“It will be a multi-use space,” LaFay says. “We’d like to put a little café in there that’s sort of like a student-run business.”

He also wants to include a general study area, performance space and smaller areas where students can launch business ideas.

Not only does the 240 S. Bridge St. facility offer space for a group that engages the community, it also gives the community a better impression of what LaFay says is building that is a bit more modern looking than other DeWitt buildings.

“It has as spectacular view of the Looking Glass River in downtown DeWitt,” LaFay says. “It has that industrial feel that you get in cities like Chicago and New York.”

Right now the DCG is leasing a smaller space in the building, but is in the middle of a campaign to raise $50,000 to build out the rest of the space. LaFay and Jeff Croley, who is the DCG director and also a faculty member at DeWitt High School, want to be able to hold meetings and events in the space as well as offer a place where students can display their creative work.

The DWC has hosted several events and has worked closely with community members to build a bridge between students, community, business and the arts.

Nov. 12, they will host a discussion about the city after an "Our Town" performance. For more information, email LaFay here.

Source: Jason LaFay, DeWitt Creativity Group

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.


MSU Puts New $400,000, 450 Sq Ft Mobile Air Pollution Lab on the Road

Michigan State University (MSU) is putting its new, $400,000, 450 square foot mobile air research laboratory on the road with the intention of better understanding the damaging effects of air pollution.

The researchers are also trying to understand why certain airborne particles that are emitted from plants and vehicles, induce disease and illness.

The advantage of the mobile lab is that it goes directly to the source, pulling 5,000 liters of air per minute through a smokestack-like structure, allowing researchers to immediately extract and study very fine particles.

The first MSU Mobile Air Research Laboratory, AirCARE 1, spends about half of the year in metro Detroit and half of the year in Los Angeles.

AirCARE 2 is headed to southeastern Michigan to study the cardiovascular health effects of transported air pollution originating from distant emission sites in Michigan or adjacent states.

“With the new mobile lab, we’re able to do different studies simultaneously in different areas of the country,” says Jack Harkema, a university distinguished professor of pathobiology and diagnostic investigation in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Source: Jack Harkema, MSU

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.


Alternative Energy Fuels Firm’s Move to 11,800 Sq Ft Space Williamston Location

Alpha & Omega Chimney and Masonry Service, which has been open since 1999, has moved from Okemos to Williamston, exponentially expanding its showroom and warehouse space.

“It’s 10 times the size of the Okemos space,” says Steve Hunt, owner of Alpha & Omega Chimney and Masonry Service.

The new space includes a 2,800 square foot showroom, office space and a 9,000 square foot warehouse.

Traditionally, Alpha & Omega Chimney and Masonry Service inspected and cleaned chimneys; however, in the last year the company has shifted its focus to alternative energy stoves.

“We’re installing wood, corn and pellet stoves,” he says. “We still do propane, but we’re really focusing on the alternative energy aspect.”

The addition of alternative fuels was generated by Hunt’s staff.

“About a year ago, in our weekly staff meetings, the guys keep coming back with testimonials of people who were tired of fossil fuel consumption and they wanted to address their home heating needs while being more responsible about the environment,” he says. “We decided to address those needs. I have an excellent and amazing staff of brilliant people that I think are smarter than I am.”

Though Alpha & Omega Chimney and Masonry Service is still engaged in the service aspects of the business, Hunt says the alternative energy-based portion is really picking up.

“Oh, we’ve seen an increase since we’ve added this component,” Hunt says. “Our next expansion will be about this time of year next year, and will include wind and solar.”

Source: Steve Hunt, Alpha & Omega Chimney and Masonry Service

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.


20 Volunteers Help Redesign Four Greater Lansing Housing Coalition Homes

Approximately 20 Capital region volunteers, Lansing Community College (LCC) design students and Michigan State University (MSU) design students got together and spruced up four Lansing Greater Lansing House Coalition (GLHC) houses to make them more attractive to potential homebuyers.

The program, called Creative Cents, gives two teams the opportunity to design two rooms in two houses. The GLHC provides $300 each for each design. The houses are located at 547, 545, 809 and 847 Baker St. GLHC's Amy Rose Wallace-Robinson says the goal of the project was to renew interest in the properties, one of which has been on the market for three years.

“This may be a way to revive interest in these homes again,” she says. “To carry on all the costs affiliated with holding a property is unreal.”

The Creative Cents concept is borrowed from an Indiana-based concept in which entire houses are designed to encourage sales. The GLHC didn’t have the money to design every house in its entirety, but did redesign the 547 office/guest room/study; the 545 master suite; the 809 living room; and the 847 dining room/kitchen.

The GLHC approved the designs before giving the teams design money. The teams worked on the designs through September and presented them Oct. 1.

“Really, this little idea that we thought would be a helpful and fun way to get to know people, blossomed into this mega event,” Wallace-Robinson says. “It went off so well. It’s definitely a program we will continue.”

The GLHC rehabbed all of the Baker Street houses before the design project. All of the houses are catered toward moderate–to-low-income families.

Wallace-Robinson says she hopes all four of the homes will sell by Nov. 30, which is the cut off date for the federal government's first-time homebuyer tax credit.

Source: Amy Rose Wallace-Robinson, GLHC

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.


Allen Neighborhood Center Starts Offering 140 Sq Ft Backyard Greenhouses

This fall, the Allen Neighborhood Center (ANC) and the Hunter Park Community GardenHouse are sponsoring Build a Backyard Greenhouse, a program that gives neighbors access to140 square foot backyard greenhouses.

“I think that this is something that, at least for serious gardeners who love to garden seasonally, will allow them to do it year round,” says Joan Nelson with the Allen Neighborhood Center. “This could also be a sweet little shelter in their backyard that they could duck into in February.”

The Allen Neighborhood Center and the Hunter Park Community GardenHouse worked on the six-foot tall greenhouse prototypes all summer. They’ve hosted several “how to” workshops for neighbors wishing to build the greenhouses, which can easily be placed in a small Eastside backyard.

Now, they’re putting together a manual with pictures and instructions so neighbors can put the $400 kits together themselves.

“We’ve found similar ones on the Internet that sell for $800 to $1,000,” Nelson says.

Neil Byrne, with the Allen Neighborhood Center, developed the concept and is available to construct the greenhouses.

“It’s a very cool idea,” Nelson says. “There’s this huge growing movement afoot all across the country about creating more green space. Combined with rising food prices, concerns about food safety and increased preference for locally grown produce, I think this will be appealing to a lot of residents.”

If you’re interested in getting information about the greenhouses, contact ANC here.

Source: Joan Nelson, Allen Neighborhood Center

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.


Kuntzsch Business Services, Inc. Expands Into Rehabbed Grand Ledge Building

Founded in 2004, Grand Ledge-based Kuntzsch Business Services, Inc. has added seven employees and moved into a 3,800 square foot rehabbed building in Grand Ledge.

“The 3,800 square feet was actually more space that we needed for the size of our business at the time, but within six months, we added four bodies. So we grew into it,” says President and CEO Rachel Kuntzsch.

Kuntzsch Business Services, Inc. provides services to organizations and businesses that strive to implement new energy solutions. Kuntzsch Business Services manages the Greater Lansing Clean Cities (GLCC), which recently won $1.1 million from a U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) competition for a bus-emission-reduction project.

Kuntzsch moved Kuntzsch Business Services, Inc. into the 300 N. Bridge St. Grand Ledge building in August 2008 after the former tenant, a physical fitness center, moved out.

“We had to do some finishing work to make it functional for an office, but it’s a very nice space,” she says. “It’s laid out so there’s a large open area for workshops and meetings for more than 25 people.”

Kuntzsch’s husband, Dave, and his business partners rehabbed the former auto repair parts warehouse in 2008, adding four 1,000 square foot condos to the upper floor of the building.

The move "ties into our sustainability model because it’s the renewal of an old space,” Kuntzsch says.

Kuntzsch Business Services, Inc. occupies the entire first floor of the building.

Source: Rachel Kuntzsch, Kuntzsch Business Services, Inc.

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.


Capital Area Michigan Works Put $1.2 Million Into Youth Construction Program

Capital Area Michigan Works! (CAMW) is working with the Ingham County Land Bank and other area partners to use a $1.2 million grant to retrain workers and rehab five Lansing houses.

The CAMW! YouthBuild Program will provide classroom and on the job training in construction and sustainability for 60 people ages 18-24. Selected students will take residential building classes at Lansing Community College (LCC) while simultaneously getting on-site construction experience.

A construction supervisor will oversee the students as they work on greening and rehabbing five of the Land Bank’s properties. The students will specifically focus on sustainable aspects of construction, working on air sealing, installation and other home upgrades.

“With this program, we hope to prepare young people for the residential energy efficiency market,” says Brindley Byrd, YouthBuild Program project manager. The students will also earn a Green Advantage Environmental Certificate and be introduced to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system, increasing their marketability when they leave the program.

The students will spend time working on academics with Eagle Vision Ministries as most of them will be high school dropouts in need of a GED.

“These are young people who didn’t make it through the system and we’re getting them back on track,” Byrd says. “We need to let them know they’re part of a bigger system.”

The addresses of the first two houses to be renovated are 540 Paris and 551 Emily in Lansing. The other houses will be identified as the program advances.

The 60 selected students will be split into two groups with one starting in the fall and one in the spring. The City of Lansing and the Michigan Laborers’ Apprenticeship and Training Institution are also partnering on the project.

Anyone interested in applying to the program must attend two informational sessions at the CAMW’s Lansing office. The first is at 11a.m., Aug. 19 and the second is at 3 p.m., Aug. 21.

Source: Brindley Byrd, CAMW

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.


East Lansing Home Management Company Finds Growth Market

For those of you who hate yard work and don’t care about clogged gutters, listen up. There’s now a Lansing-based service that takes care of the maintenance pains that come with homeownership, including yard work and painting.

Sam Tucker started the Home Management Company (HMCo) in January with the idea of helping older individuals stay in their homes by providing home maintenance services similar to those offered in condo developments. This includes finding contractors to do difficult jobs such as installing new roofs, to smaller tasks that can be impossible for older people, such as checking smoke alarms.

“We come in and sit down with clients and they can pick and choose the services based on what their needs are throughout the year,” he says. “We schedule everything so they don’t have to worry about it.”

Tucker hires reliable contractors to do the work, alleviating the annoyance of trying to find a contractor.

“We can find a plumber a roofer or a painter, but for someone to make one call and manage all aspects of their house with one call, we couldn’t find that,” he says.

While marketing his business, Tucker stumbled across a market he hadn’t anticipated.

“Ironically, we targeted the aging as our market, but the population that’s just too busy makes up about half of our clients,” Tucker says.

Tucker currently operates HMCo out of his East Lansing-based home, but anticipates future growth that may include developing a national presence.

“The stats with the aging people in the next few years is pretty phenomenal in terms of growth rate,” he says. “Our intent is to grow this business. We do feel there’s a need and we’re passionate about it."

Source: Sam Tucker, HMCo

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.


Foster Park Building Renovations Complete as Garden Project Gets a Green Roof

The improvements and renovations made to the Foster Park building within Lansing’s Foster Park are complete and include a green roof.

The Foster Park building is three blocks south of the Foster Community Center and houses the Lansing Garden Project, which is administered by the Greater Lansing Food Bank.

The renovation was one of necessity as the building’s roof had been leaking for quite some time. The renovations included a new roof, new bathrooms and updated community space.

A Foster Park neighbor brought the idea of a green roof forward. It was well received by the City of Lansing’s Park and Recreation Department as it fits in with the city’s desire to make Lansing a greener and more environmentally minded city.

“The benefit of the green roof is that it prolongs the life of the roof by not allowing the sun to break down the roof,” says Anne Rauscher with the Garden Project. “It helps with storm water runoff and also helps moderate the temperature in the building.”

The facility was closed for a year. The Garden Project moved out in the winter of 2008 and moved back into the facility in April 2009.

“We’re really grateful to be back into the resource building,” she says.

Source: Anne Rauscher, Garden Project

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.


Shovels in the Ground for New 11,400 Sq Ft, $1.6 Million Lansing City Market

After much talking and planning, construction for the new Lansing City Market in Downtown Lansing is underway,

The $1.6 million project is slated to be completed by December of this year. The new 11,400 square foot market will replace the current market, which is larger but not as spatially effective as the new design, according to Eric D. Hart, president and CEO of Lansing Entertainment and Public Facilities (LEPFA).

“It’s more usable than the old facility,” he says. “The old facility has about 13,000 square feet, but the centerpiece is an office and you can’t really use that area.”

The old facility, which has about 40 vendors, will remain open until the new market is finished. The new all-season market will be located closer to the waterfront. Harts thinks the majority of existing vendors will move to the new location and says he’s already getting interest from potential new vendors.

“We’re really concentrating on fresh food, fresh produce and prepared foods,” Hart says, adding that he’d like to see more Lansing residents view the new market as their local grocery store.

“We want there to be so much demand for this that it warrants expansion in the future,” he says.

The city is also building a 400 car parking deck on the back side of the Lansing Center to accommodate parking for the new market and the convention center.

Source: Eric D. Hart, Lansing Entertainment and Public Facilities

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.


Homegrown Entrepreneur Turns Class Project Into 2,300 Sq Ft Westside Salon

Board of Water & Light (BWL) employee and Lansing native, Wendy Bradley, has opened a 2,300 square foot full service salon on Lansing’s Westside.

Bradley started working on ZOE Life Spa and Salon while enrolled in an MBA program; there, she was asked to create a business plan. Eventually, what started as a class assignment turned into a business. 

“I wanted to do something different,” she says. “I really have this entrepreneurial spirit.”

Bradley researched spa franchises all over the country before deciding to open an independent enterprise.

“One thing I found was that it was very much like work, and that’s what I was trying to get away from,” she says about her decision not to open a franchise salon.

In February, she opened ZOE Life Spa and Salon, which is located at 6452 Millennium Dr. in Lansing.

ZOE Life Spa and Salon includes hair, skin, nail and massage services. It also offers body treatments, a make-up studio, an oxygen bar and spa packages. Bradley also has a concierge service, allowing her to connect customers to personal shoppers, wedding planners, a teen fashion consultant and dietitians.

“I wanted to start a spa in Lansing because I’m from Lansing,” she says. “We felt it was important to support the community we reside in.”

Bradley has nine employees and uses as many green products as possible. She built out the 2,300 square foot space to fit her needs.

Source: Wendy Z. Bradley, ZOE Life Spa and Salon

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


Lansing Breaks Ground on DEQ-Funded $3.2 Million Riverfront Project

The City of Lansing is embarking on the second phase of its riverfront beatification plan, a $3.2 million investment that includes cleaning up the river and aesthetic improvements to the riverfront.

“This really bridges the gap between environmental protection and progress,” says Bob McCann, spokesman with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

The second phase includes installing decorative lighting, railings, benches, tables landscape and directional signage along the east side of the river next to the new Lansing City Market, which, when constructed, will be a $1.6 million project.

A $3.2 million Clean Michigan Initiative Grant issued by the DEQ will support the design of the pathways on the west and east side of the river. The western portion of the pathway is in front of the new, $182 million Accident Fund headquarters that is also under construction.

The 1,012 linear-foot path on the east side will be finished this fall. The 867-foot boardwalk on the west side will be finished by the summer of 2010.

“When all of the pieces come together, this is not only a physical transformation of the riverfront, but also an economic transformation of this riverfront,” says John Holmstrom, with the Christman Construction Co.

Source: Randy Hannan, City of Lansing

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.


Changes Made to $12 Million Sobi Square Downtown Project

The developers planning the Sobi Square project in Downtown Lansing have changed the site plans to reflect changes in the housing market.

The $12 million project includes residential and mixed-use properties that encompasses Butler Blvd., Ionia St., Ottawa St. and Sycamore St. in Downtown Lansing.

The changes include adding a mixed-use building that would include retail, office space and living space. However, the first phase will include the construction of a 12-unit, 950 square feet to 1,175 square feet two and three-bedroom building on Ottawa Street.

The project, which resembles developer Gene Townsend’s Printer’s Row development, creates a community within the neighborhood. 

“We received feedback that if this corner is improved, it may improve the whole region,” says developer Gene Townsend with The Lenawee Company. Old Town-based VESTA Building Industries is also a partner in the project.

The project includes large rain gardens, expansive green space, a recycling area, patios, a fountain, garden and hidden parking.

“I think this will be pretty exciting because the buildings will be very energy efficient,” Townsend says.

Source: Gene Townsend, The Lenawee Company

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.


New Entrepreneur Celebrates a Year in Business at Agog Arts in East Lansing

As a former employee of Beyond the Wall poster shop in East Lansing, Laura Hall seized the opportunity to take over the place in 2008, when the previous owner informed her that the East Lansing and Ann Arbor locations of the Pennsylvania-based chain were closing.

“I've always wanted to own my own business, so it was the perfect opportunity for me,” says Hall.

She has been running her local art and retail business, Agog Arts, at the same location at 225 E. Grand River Avenue, and recently celebrated a year in business.

Although Hall still provides services and products similar to that of Beyond the Wall, she has incorporated local artists into the mix with a line of handmade jewelry, ceramics, original photography, by featuring an artist every month and by participating in the First Sunday Gallery Walk.

All of Agog Arts’ inventory is also listed online and can be ordered online. “All of the proceeds of the sales online of local art go directly to the artist,” says Hall.

“Being an artist myself, I know it is difficult to get your art out to the public, and when I took ownership of the store that was my first goal, to have a venue for local artists to display and sell their artwork.”

Source: Laura Hall, Agog Arts

Suban Nur Cooley, interim development news editor, can be reached here.


$850,000 Hunter Park Pool Grand Opening Scheduled For All Day Eastside Bash

The $850,000 Eastside Lansing Hunter Park Pool and splash pad renovation was completed last October, past prime swimming season. Now that summer is almost upon us, the Eastside is excited to unveil the public outdoor pool at its grand opening on May 30.

There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by an all-day swim lasting until 7:00 in the evening. Festivities are planned all day at Hunter Park as part of Lansing's Be a Tourist in Your Own Town activities. There will be a Family Fun Walk, Gardenhouse Tours and a free Hunter Park Music Fest. 

"There are many delightful things happening at Hunter Park, in addition to the grand opening of the pool," says Joan Nelson, Director of the Allen Neighborhood Center.

"Folks can come spend the entire day of May 30 enjoying music, food, workshops, walks, swimming and the start of summer in the beautiful 13-acre Hunter Park."

The pool and splash pad will be available for free open swimming everyday from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. until September 7. Adult classes and lap swimming will also be available from 7:00 8:00 p.m. everyday.

The pool also has a new zero-depth sloping entry to allow wheelchair access, and the splash pad has lots of water-spraying toys for children.

Source: Joan Nelson, Allen Neighborhood Center

Suban Nur Cooley, interim development news editor, can be reached here.  

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


Housing Partnership and Land Bank Invest in New Homes in East Lansing

As a result of a partnership between Hometown Housing Partnership (HHP), the Ingham County Land Bank and the City of East Lansing, a former 600 square foot rental property at 1237 Wolf Court in East Lansing was purchased and turned into a newly constructed 1700 square foot home for a future homeowner.

“There are several reasons to develop new construction units in the City,” says executive director of HHP, Michelle Reardon. “Increased numbers of high quality, affordable housing units within the City improve and stabilize neighborhood home values, [while] low maintenance and high efficiency units add to the affordability."

“It is important to maintain and improve the affordable housing stock in the City of East Lansing to allow a diverse resident base that will strengthen our community,” adds Reardon.

HHP hosted an open house of the property on April 21. The three bedroom property also features 5 Star Plus energy standards and eco-friendly building materials. 1237 Wolf Ct. is the first of three new homes to be built on Wolf Court.

“HHP recently purchased another parcel of land on Wolf Ct. and has begun the process to build two more units comparable to the existing product at 1237 Wolf Court. We hope to continue this model in the future as opportunity and needs arise,” says Reardon. 

Source: Michelle Reardon, Hometown Housing Partnership

Suban Nur Cooley, interim development news editor, can be reached here.

St. Johns Developer Transforms Old Lumber Yard Into New Fitness Complex

A former St. Johns lumberyard has been turned into a large fitness center by St. Johns business owner Jim Ortman.

The new fitness facility is home to Iron House Fitness Center, Curves, 1,500 square feet and two other workout areas that are 1,500 square feet each. It also has a new massage business, 1,500 square feet.

“I really felt that in this area, there’s a lot of things for people to do, but it’s all spread out,” Ortman says. “We said, 'Why don’t we just put it all together in one place where the family can come and do different things at the same time?'”

“We’ve had tremendous feedback,” says Ortman. “The owner (of Iron House) said that the first week they were there they had more than 50 new customers sign up. The same goes for Curves and the spa.”

Ortman really started working on the 407 N. Clinton Ave. building in December 2008, and opened in March. Ortman says he also wants to add health and nutrition classes to the facility.

Source: Jim Ortman, Ortman Photography

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


City of Lansing Putting $16.55 Million Urgent Road Repair Plan Into Action

The City of Lansing’s streets have a regional reputation for crater-sized potholes and divots, but this year, the City of Lansing is embarking on a $16.55 million plan to fix the worst of these roads.

The $16.55 million plan includes repairs to 302 miles of local streets, 107 miles of major streets and 33 miles of state trunkline roads. The state trunklines are scheduled to be fixed by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).

$2.3 million in federal stimulus money will fund improvements on Michigan Avenue, Edgewood Boulevard, Washington Avenue and Holmes Road. The remaining funding will come from emergency bonds ($3 million), the Lansing Combined Sewer Overflow program ($7.52 million) and other government funding ($6.03 million).

All of the improvements are expected to be finished by the end of the 2009 construction season.

To view a map of the scheduled projects, click here.

Source: Randy Hannan, City of Lansing

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.


$18.5 Million Wharton Addition on Track for March Performance

The $18.5 million renovation and expansion of the Wharton Center on Michigan State University’s (MSU) campus is getting closer to completion, with the backstage addition on target for a March opening. This portion of the renovation includes new dressing rooms, an elevator and new restrooms.

The backstage addition is expected to be ready for action by March 16, which marks the opening of The Lion King.

“This will allow us to operate more efficiently, especially with the bigger touring groups,” says Diane Baribeau, general manager of the Wharton Center. “I think we could still attract them without the addition, but this gives them more dressing rooms and allows them to use a second theater.”

The Wharton Center renovation is an $18.5 million, three phase project. The backstage renovation and addition are expected to be complete by the end of the May.

The third and final phase, which is an internal remodel that includes larger green rooms, star dressing rooms, additional backstage amenities and more restrooms, should be complete by the end of the summer.

Source: Diane Baribeau, Wharton Center

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.


East Lansing Considers $300,000 Investment in White Park Improvements

The City of East Lansing is discussing a proposal for $300,000 worth of new improvements to White Park.

The suggested improvements include upgrading the parking lots on Lake Lansing Road and Pebblebrook Lane, renovating the softball field and installing a picnic pavilion, universally accessible interpretive nature trail, wildlife viewing platform and bridge.

“People are generally very excited about the proposed improvements and are happy to see something moving forward in the park,” says Wendy Wilmers Longpre with the City of East Lansing.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is providing $225,000 for the improvements, while the City of East Lansing and the Al White estate are providing $75,000 in matching funds for the project.

The improvements are expected to start in the summer.

Source: Wendy Wilmers Longpre, City of East Lansing

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


Groesbeck Neighbors Working to Create New Community Garden

Lansing has a fairly well-developed network of community gardens that span across the city, but none of the gardens are located in the Eastside’s Groesbeck neighborhood.

Groesbeck neighbors want to change that, and are in the middle of a campaign to add a community garden to the section of multi-family housing located on the southern edge of the neighborhood in Slater Park.

“The park is currently unused for anything other than open space,” says Matt Brinkley with Lansing Township. “It was originally intended to be used as a soccer field, but it was never quite made for that purpose.”

Brinkley thinks the proposed garden could accommodate 20 gardeners.

“We have this large open space and we’re thinking about away to create additional amenities for the neighborhood residents in the surrounding communities,” he says.

Brinkley is looking for funding to start the garden, which he hopes to have up and running in the spring. For more information about the garden, please email Brinkley.

Source: Joan Nelson, Allen Neighborhood Center

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.


$757,300 East Lansing Hawk Nest Park Improvement Moving Forward

The City of East Lansing got a nice “Happy Holiday’s” package in the form of $757,300 worth of grants that will be used to improves the city’s parks system.

A $262,500 Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) grant will help fund a $350,000 improvement plan for Hawk Nest Park. Hawk Nest Park improvements will include a new playground and picnic pavilion and accessible walkways. The improvements funded by this grant will also include a one-third mile addition to the Northern Tier Trail.

An additional $429,000 MNRTF grant will pay for a 2.93 acre land acquisition from the White Family for the expansion of the park. This expansion will provide a location for a trailhead/park entry plaza and space for additional connections to the Northern Tier Trail.

A final $65,800 grant will pay for a 1.75 acre land acquisition from the St. Paul Lutheran Church on Lake Lansing Road. This parcel will eventually provide pedestrian access to the park from the north.

“Through assistance from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund and in-kind donations from the White Family Trust and the St. Paul Lutheran Church we are able to acquire more lands for public outdoor recreation, while also funding improvements and additions to the public amenities already present at the two park sites,” says East Lansing Parks Director Timothy McCaffrey.

“Outdoor recreation for our community members continues to be a priority for the City. This funding will help to improve the quality of life in our community substantially.”

Source: Mikell Frey, City of East Lansing

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.

 


Eaton County Completes $402,000 Potterville Park Project

The Eaton County Parks Department finished a $402,000, yearlong renovation of the Fox Memorial Park in Potterville.

The renovation, which is part of the Eaton County Parks Department’s five-year master plan, includes a new restroom and concession building, a new fishing observation deck, a new walkway and new park benches.

“We were replacing some structures that had been built in the late 1970s and early 1980s,” says Dan Patton, director of the Eaton County Parks Department.

The renovations also include a wheelchair accessible water access point.

“This is one of the only outdoor public swimming facilities in the county,” Patton says. “It’s really user friendly and caters to families with young children.”

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board and the Capital Region Community Foundation paid for the majority of the renovations.

Source: Dan Patton, Eaton County Parks Department

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.


Fast-Growing Tranquility Massage Expands into Williamston Location

Amanda Campbell expanded her massage studio, Tranquility Massage, into the space occupied by Profiles Hair Design Studio in Williamston.

Campbell started her business out of her home in Howell in August 2007. She decided to expand her business into the commercial space to accommodate growing demand for her services. She maintains her Howell location as well.

“I’m looking to maybe, within the next three years or so, open a parlor, which would have five rooms to get massages,” she says. “I haven’t decided on a location yet.”

Campbell specializes in tandem massage therapy. As the name suggests, this type of therapy involves tag team treatment by two massage therapists.

Three massage therapists work for Campbell. Tranquility massage is located at 110 North Putnam Ave. in Williamston.

Source: Amanda Campbell, Tranquility Massage

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


Meridian Christian Church Holds First Service In New 20,000 Sq Ft Addition

The Meridian Christian Church recently celebrated its 20,000 square foot facility addition by holding its first service in the building.

“This is our first building of any kind,” says Rick Stacy, pastor with the Meridian Christian Church. “This was perfect for the future grow of our ministries and youth program.”

The 16-year-old organization got its start in Meridian Mall, then moved its services to Chippewa Middle School. This is the first time parishioners have worshiped in a place of their own.

The Meridian Christian Church also acquired an 11,000 square foot children’s center from the Okemos Christian Center (OCC). The Meridian Christian Church moved some services into the former OCC building in October.

Stacy says they hope to have a youth center in the facility as well as a worship center and gym. Right now the gym houses the church’s large motor skills preschool program.

The church’s former address is 2630 Bennett Road. The new address is 2600 Bennett Road.

Source: Rick Stacy, Meridian Christian Church

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


Bustling Downtown YMCA Plans Second Expansion in Two Years

The Downtown Lansing YMCA is working on a 3,000 square foot expansion that, if all goes well, should be complete just in time to accommodate the January rush.

The YMCA is expanding its second floor exercise and fitness room space. The 3,000 square foot expansion will include a stretching room, a "mind, body and spirit" room for group yoga and pilates classes, and an area for suspension training and self-defense classes.

Suspension training is the latest in the group fitness trend. Participants use suspension straps that are hung from the ceiling to work various muscle groups. The straps allow them to use their body weight to increase their strength.

YMCA Assistant Executive Director, Ben Wheeler, says the expansion will accommodate growing fitness classes and give members access to a much-needed stretching space.

“It’s across the board that our classes are growing,” he says.

The expansion will also include a second floor bathroom. In 2007, the YMCA expanded the upstairs fitness area by 4,000 square feet. That expansion primarily included additional space for fitness machines and weights.

The Downtown YMCA is hoping to have the latest expansion opened by January.

Source: Ben Wheeler, YMCA

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


Survey Shows High Satisfaction With East Lansing

East Lansing residents are very happy with their community, the city and their quality of life.

East Lansing-based Adaptive Research Systems recently conducted a survey of East Lansing residents asking them to rank their satisfaction with the city. Of those asked, 97 percent said East Lansing is a good place to live and 90 percent indicated that their neighborhood is an“excellent” or “good” place to live.

“I think, almost without exception, what we found is that there’s an increase in approval or satisfaction with the city,” says Doug Carlson with Adaptive Research Systems.

Residents indicated that area assets such as access toMichigan State University (MSU), a strong sense of community and attractive neighborhoods are responsible for their satisfaction. The survey also demonstrated that 94 percent of respondents are satisfied with the overall quality of services provided by the City of East Lansing.

A similar survey was conducted five years ago. Since that time, residents report a 10 percent increase in the quality of relationships between residents and students. Their satisfaction with the city has also increased. In 2003, 95 percent of residents said they thought East Lansing was a good place to live. In 1997, this number stood at 94 percent. It’s now at 97 percent.

For the 2008 survey, 600 residents were interviewed, with a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

Source: Mikell Frey, City of East Lansing

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here. 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


$700,000 To Support New Clinton County Park and Lake Access

Clinton County is using $700,000 in state and local funds to develop the first Clinton County-owned regional park.

The county acquired the 42-acre Motz (pronounced "moats") County Park and its 15-acre lake in February 2007, and is working on a number of development projects to make the park attractive to local residents. This effort includes a massive universal access platform that will include unisex bathrooms, a special changing platform for those with spinal injuries, and a beach house storage space for all-terrain wheelchairs.

“Universal access is really going beyond the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and thinking outside of the box, coming up with development ideas that not only serve the disabled community, but everyone in a much more user-friendly manner,” says Jerry Jaloszynski, greenspace commission coordinator for Clinton County.

The county is also developing a swimming beach, two large group pavilions, a general picnic area, a pedestrian pathway, a parking lot and two shoreline-fishing platforms.

“We have a pretty dry county,” Jaloszynski says. “We do have Sleepy Hollow State Park, but it’s not the best for water contact because it’s weedy and murky This park has implications not only because it will provide additional water, but it’s clear water. That’s very attractive.”

Right now the county is working on designing and engineering the beach and park. Jaloszynski says the county hopes to have these developments ready for the 2009 swim season. Construction on the beach house is set to begin late next year.

Source: Jerry Jaloszynski, Clinton County

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.


City of East Lansing Opens New Grove Gallery Artist Co-Op

East Lansing welcomed a new artist co-op to its downtown this past weekend.

The Grove Gallery Co-Op, located at 325 Grove Street next to the Woven Art Yarn & Fiber Gallery, is a six-member co-op that’s supported by the City of East Lansing. The city’s Cultural Entrepreneurship Program allows qualified artists to receive subsidies for renting a space in the co-op.

The six artists who rent space also work in the gallery. Two off-site artists work outside of the gallery, but show their work in the space.

The Grove Gallery Co-Op artists work in sculpture, printmaking, pastel paintings, oil paintings, weaving, beadwork, free-form sculptural weaving with natural materials, fused glass, pottery and fiber arts.

“It’s important, for one thing, to support the cultural artists activities in the downtown,” says Heather Pope with the City of East Lansing. “In the downtown we have SCENE Metrospace, Trillium Gallery, Mackerel Sky and Woven Art. We’re creating something that we haven’t had, and it’s unique. It’s a draw for people to come downtown.”

The city started working on the co-op last fall. Artists officially moved in during the spring of 2008. The six in-house spots filled up immediately, but the Grove Gallery Co-Op continually takes applications.

Source: Heather Pope, City of East Lansing

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


Grand Ledge Parish Steps Up to Reduce Energy Use, Tackle Green Projects

St. Michael’s Parish and school in Grand Ledge is extending its civic obligation to the environment, pledging to reduce its energy use by 15 percent within the next few years.

“We don’t pretend that we’re breaking huge new ground,” says Pastor Jim Eisele. “We just really think that care for the environment and the church fit well together.”

The St. Michael Parish joined the Michigan Interfaith Power and Light group, which focuses on global climate change and reducing one’s carbon footprint through energy efficiency and green building. 

The church has a list of about 26 actions to reduce its impact on the environment. Some of them are small items, such as shutting off the refrigerators in the summer time, while others are more expensive and labor intensive.

“The low hanging fruit you can do pretty easily with little or no cost,” Eisele says, adding that many of the efforts will also save the church money.

Parish members have divided up into separate groups to focus on certain aspects of changing the church’s environmental impact. One member is in charge of the Michigan Green School designation, which the state gives to schools that commit to green activities.

St. Michael’s has won this designation by meeting 12 of the 20 criteria created by the state.

Source: Mitzi Luttrull, St. Michael’s School

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


New 3,000 Sq Ft Williamston Fitness Studio Shares Dance Space

Williamston residents are taking advantage of a few new downtown fitness options, favoring them over the drive into East Lansing or Lansing for a fitness class.

Amie Brown recently opened Body Works Fitness in the Keller Plaza at 110 E. Grand River Avenue. She shares the 3,000 square foot space with a dance studio. Brown schedules her classes around the dance classes.

“I usually teach morning classes because it’s a dance studio at night,” she says.

Brown also teaches at the Michigan Athletic Club (MAC) in East Lansing. She hopes to keep adding instructors to her roster. She has roughly 15 to 20 clients.

Source: Amie Brown, Body Works Fitness

 Ivy Hughes,development news editor, can be reached here.


$20,000 Grant Improves Access to East Lansing Recreation Opportunities

The City of East Lansing has completed several wheelchair accessibility improvements funded by a $20,000 Access to Recreation grant awarded to the city by the Michigan Recreation and Park Association Foundation (MRAPF).

With the funds, the city added wheelchair accessible picnic tables and other access friendly elements to the Family Aquatic Center and the Northern Tier Trail.

“The City of East Lansing is always looking for new ways to provide all of its patrons with access to outdoor recreational amenities,” says Timothy McCaffrey who directs East Lansing's Department of Parks, Recreation & Arts . “Thanks to the grant from MRPAF, individuals who may require a wheelchair or a mobility-aided device can now enjoy improved access to several ofour picnic shelters and to the Northern Tier Trail.”

The City of East Lansing finished the Aquatic Center’s $250,000 splash pad, which includes 12 interactive water features that spill, spray, mist or splash on kids, in February.

Source: Mikell Frey, City of East Lansing

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.


Quakers Break Ground on 4,200 Sq Ft Old Town Meeting House

After waiting patiently for 60 years to have a meeting place of their own, Capital region Quakers finally have found what they were looking for.

The Red Cedar Friends recently broke ground on what will be a 4,200 square foot meeting house in Old Town Lansing. The new facility, which should be finished by March, is located at 1400 Turner Street.

The 25 to 30 Red Cedar Friends members will divide the one story building into two connected sections. One section will act as a day care, so the parents can quietly worship in the other side of the building.

The building will achieve a minimum LEED standard, says Susan Waltz with the Red Cedar Friends Building Committee. Walz says they hope to also open the building up to the community.

“I think Old Town really is leading the way, and I hope Old Town serves as a catalyst for other development in Lansing,” says Aaron Matthews, president of the board for Old Town Commercial Association about the fact that Old Town can boast two LEED-certified buildings.

Source: Susan Waltz, Red Cedar Friends

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.


450 Sq Ft Williamston Spin Studio Keeps Classes Full

A spinning fitness instructor who lost 60 pounds through diet and an exercise regiment that included dozens of spinning classes recently opened a 450 square foot spinning studio in Williamston.

When Tina Brookhouse first started attending fitness classes, she felt uncomfortable because she was overweight. After losing 30 pounds, she got certified as an instructor and set a goal to “really help people who had to lose weight and keep them in the program.”

She now has her own studio on 311 W. Grand River in downtown Williamston. Brookhouse had to make slight renovations to the former nail salon to turn it into a studio.

“I have more of a passion of working with people who really have that obstacle of having a lot of weight to lose,” she says.

Brookhouse also teaches group cycling, gentle yoga, personal training and senior fitness. She says she may have to expand her space. Her contract allows for her to move a wall to expand.

“I’ve been open for a month and almost all of my classes are full already,” she says.

Source: Tina Brookhouse, Tina Brookhouse Fitness Studio

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


600 Sq Ft Addition Completed at East Lansing Hannah Community Center

A 600 square foot renovation and addition to the East Lansing Hannah Community Center (ELHCC) is complete.

The $310,000 project includes a 600 square foot addition to the indoor workout space. The space hosts new free weights, a new core body work space, and cardiovascular equipment like treadmills, cross trainers and exercise bikes.

“It was a modest expansion to the fitness center,” says Timothy McCaffrey with the City of East Lansing.

The upgrade also included an extensive renovation of both locker rooms, which now offer better lighting, new private showers, new finishes and tile, and new sinks. The women’s facility was expanded to allow more square footage for showers and other amenities.

The pool was closed during the locker room renovation, but is now open. The ELHCC renovation started in May 2008.

Source: Mikell Frey, City of East Lansing

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.


Old Home Remodel Delivers Funds and Message to Eastside Neighbors

Last week Dave Muylle, owner of Muylle Enterprises, joined with 115 Eastside residents and the Allen Neighborhood Center to welcome a very modern, innovative renovation of a 1915 Eastside Lansing home.

Muylle spent two years renovating the 1,800 square foot house at 139 Leslie Street. His idea was to create a “green” home while showing Eastside residents how they can drive up the energy, aesthetic and overall quality of their home.

Muylle’s renovations truly are indescribable. The home is green in every sense of the word, as Muylle chose to update and expand the living space of an existing home rather than build a brand new home on the lot.

“People see something like this and it changes their perception,” Muylle says. “To be able to offer something like that is a real privilege.”

Muylle used every scrap of space in the home, carving out pantries and cabinets in thick walls, creating overhead storage, vaulting ceilings to open up the floor plan, creating lofts and completely refinishing the basement for an additional 600 square feet of living space.

The house also has a central vacuum that will allow the homeowner to vacuum the entire house, room-by-room, without lugging around an entire vacuum.

The Allen Neighborhood Center hosted a fundraiser at the Leslie house last week to give neighbors a glimpse into their future. The event brought a $2,352 profit to the center. Muylle says he hopes the house will show neighbors what they can do with their older homes.

“His house could really be the Eastside demonstration and education house as well as an inspiration for anyone who wants to improve their old house,” says Joan Nelson with the Allen Neighborhood Center.

“Given the amount of old housing stock this city has, we need to be looking at how to restore these beautiful old homes to their original beauty," she says.

Muylle owns the house next door (141 Leslie) as well, and plans to do something similar with it. The two homes were originally designed as mirror images of each other, but now they’re worlds apart. The rundown 141 address represents what’s happened to many beautiful Eastside homes, but the 139 address represents the neighborhoods’ possibilities.

Source: Joan Nelson, Allen Neighborhood Center

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


Barefoot Church Moves to 3,000 Sq Ft Eastside Lansing Location

A new church has opened in the Eastside Lansing space that formerly hosted Michigan Homegrown Music.

Barefoot Christian Church moved into the 3,000 square foot space at 2312 E. Michigan Avenue at the beginning of June. Lansing Eastsider, Pastor Noah Filipiak, started his church about a year and a half ago, and has been gradually expanding. Initially, the congregation met at other churches and community spaces, but steady growth forced them to look for a more permanent location.

“We just really wanted to stay on the Eastside,” Filipiak says. “We really wanted to be approachable, in a place that’s authentic. The thing I like about the Eastside is that there’s a lot of diversity and a lot of personality. There’s a lot of distinct voices that are really fun to be around.”

Michigan Homegrown Music will continue hosting its open mike nights at 8:30 p.m. every Thursday.

“We just thought it was a really neat thing they were doing in the community,” Filipiak says.

Filipiak says Barefoot Christian Church is doing what it can to improve the Eastside neighborhood. Right now the non-denominational church has roughly 60 adult members and will likely expand.

“We’re not blowing down any walls or anything, but we’re growing slowly and surely,” he says. “We’re very relationship-based. We try to define church as not just a place you go on Sunday.”

Source: Noah Filipiak, Barefoot Christian Church

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.


Municipalities Cooperate on Michigan Avenue Development Authority

Michigan Avenue is the main artery between Lansing and East Lansing and though it has many bright spots—great bars, lofts, a baseball stadium, Michigan State University (MSU)—it could use some improvements.

During the next few weeks, the Michigan Avenue Corridor Improvement Authority will start developing a plan to make every portion of Mid-Michigan’s most prominent corridor attractive to businesses, visitors and consumers.

“The first analysis is going to include sitting with anyone who's interested in Michigan Avenue and basically saying, ‘What are the things you like and what are the things you don’t like? What will make you visit more often?’” says Brian Anderson with the Lansing Economic Development Corporation.

Anderson says he expects citizens to ask for everything from more rain gardens and detailed brick street work to a solution to the watershed problem in the Frandor Shopping Center.

After listening to several weeks of public comment, the three entities involved in the project—Lansing, Lansing Township and East Lansing—will make improvement recommendations.

“I think it’s pretty significant because we have Lansing Township and East Lansing equally participating through this entire effort,” says Anderson.

The portion of the corridor being reviewed extends from Clara's Restaurant in Lansing to Grand River Avenue in East Lansing. After a plan is finalized, the three municipalities will determine how to fund the improvements. This is the first time the three governments have come together on a Michigan Avenue improvement plan.

Source: Brian Anderson, Lansing Economic Development Corporation

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.


Old Town Lansing Seeks Grant to Refurbish Burchard Park

The Old Town Commercial Association is working on a $6,000 grant to rebuild Burchard Park.

The park sits at Grand River Avenue and Turner Street in Old Town. Though many of Old Town’s popular festivals encompass the park, the park is frequently overlooked, in large part because it doesn’t have any playground equipment.

“It’s such a beautiful park and people don’t even know where it is,” says Jamie Schriner-Hooper with the Old Town Commercial Association.

Old Town is working with the City of Lansing and the Capital Region Community Foundation to raise enough money to assemble a playground in Burchard Park.

“This will be on the riverfront, which will be nice because it won’t only serve the loft dwellers in Old Town, but the surrounding neighborhoods,” she says. Schriner-Hooper describes the improvement as a “link” between Downtown and Old Town.

Old Town will save roughly $5,000 in construction costs by hosting a community build. The Old Town Commercial Association is working on a development schedule.

Source: Jamie Schriner-Hooper, Old Town Commercial Association

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.


Michigan Municipal League Hosts Development Video Contest

The Michigan Municipal League (MML) is holding a “Better Communities” video contest to give more than 500 of the state’s elected officials insight on creating sustainable, unique places to live.

The videos need to focus on why people (including the video creator) decide to stay in Michigan or return to Michigan. Those who haven’t returned to the state are valuable, too, so MML also wants to know what communities or elected officials would have to do to get people back.

“Michigan's success depends on our ability to attract talented, creative, and entrepreneurial types—like you!” according to the MML Web site. “Communities with vibrant downtowns, arts and culture, mass transit, and overall flexible and diverse environments are what you are looking for. . . and they attract the 21st century employers.”

The first place winner will receive $300 and the second and third place winners will each receive $100. This is a statewide competition and all entries must be received by Sept. 15.






For more details, click here.

Source: Dan Gilmartin, MML

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.


1,500 Sq. Ft. Artist Co-Op in the Works for Charlotte

Charlotte, MI, artists are pooling their resources and creativity to open a 1,500 square foot artist’s co-operative in the city’s downtown.

Charlotte painter, Stormi Stuler, and Richard Turbine, owner of Windwalker Antiques and Fine Arts, are working together to draw art lovers into downtown Charlotte. Turbine is offering the second floor of his building for the co-op.

“We like the idea of this being downtown,” Stuler says. “I think a lot of artsy kinds of people tend to like a lot of old town areas.”

When it comes to starting the revitalization of a downtown area, artist groups tend to be first in line, Stuler says, adding that smaller cities in other states have been brought back to life by the art community.

“I’ve seen this happen in a lot of old towns, even on Michigan’s West Coast,” she says. Artists “seem to have a niche for taking old, abandoned, dilapidated places and bringing them around. We’d love to see the downtown jump back like that.”

Members of the proposed co-op would split the rent and share the space. Stuler says she needs about six artists to fill the space.

“An artist came in and did a fresco-type of sculpture on one wall—it kind of looks like ruins,” she says. “The room already starts out with a beautiful, 60-foot painting on one wall.”

To contact Stuler about joining the co-op, click here.

Source: Stormi Stuler

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.


Project Hopes to Add Pedestrians with Trimmed-Down Saginaw Street

Lansing’s NorthWest Initiative is working with the City of Lansing to turn Saginaw Street, a one-way, four-lane street on Lansing's Westside, into a more community-friendly two-way street.

“It’s not friendly to business and it’s not friendly to pedestrians,” says Jessica Yorko with the NorthWest Initiative.

One-way streets, especially large one-way streets with high speed limits (the speed limit on Saginaw is 40 miles per hour) discourage pedestrians and residents from walking through the area. As a result, area businesses have a hard time retaining foot traffic, Yorko says.

The NorthWest Initiative has been trying to trim down Saginaw’s one-way reach for some time. The City of Lansing recently got on board with the plan, agreeing to host community meetings about the plan. The proposed Saginaw “road diet” could be included in the City’s new master plan.

“The goal is to make it more conducive to business development and neighborhood life,” Yorko says.

Many people view the Saginaw/Oakland corridor on Lansing’s Westside as a gateway to Downtown Lansing.

Source: Jessica Yorko, NorthWest Initiative

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.


Wharton Center/East Lansing Partner on $8-$10 Million Cultural Center

The Wharton Center and the City of East Lansing are partnering on a proposed $8 to $10 million cultural center in East Lansing.

The proposal has the Wharton Center managing the performing arts center that is included in the plans for East Lansing’s City Center II project.

The partnership would help the Wharton Center accommodate the many shows that come through East Lansing each year and would give the city a thriving theater, says Michael Brand, with the Wharton Center.

“Both of our small theaters are very over programmed and I have a very hard time getting to them,” Brand says. “We have more than 150 programs a year that range from Broadway to jazz.”

The city and the Wharton Center are working on designs for the project, which will likely include at least a 400-seat theater, Brand says. East Lansing City Manager Ted Staton says the space will be between 10,000 and 12,000 square feet and will connect to a parking lot by a skyway. It will also likely be next to the Naya Bistro & Wine Bar.

“This gives us a chance to have a theater right downtown next to an upscale restaurant,” Brand says. “I think we’re going to look at the stuff that appeals to the younger demographic. This would be the perfect environment for them.”

Source: Mikell Frey, City of East Lansing

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.


4,500 Sq. Ft. Fitness Center Lands in Prime East Lansing Location

Snap Fitness franchise owner Brad Lazorka is positioning his new fitness location in downtown East Lansing right between a record store and a bar.

In August, Lazorka will open a 4,500 square foot Snap Fitness location right next to the Landshark, one of East Lansing’s most popular bars.

“It’s an awesome location in East Lansing and it’s perfectly suitable for a gym,” Lazorka says. High ceilings, windows facing Grand River Ave., a backdoor entrance and plenty of on-site parking and proximity to Michigan State University (MSU) make the location extremely accessible to nearby residents and MSU students, he says.

“I think there’s an unmet need for a gym in the downtown East Lansing area,” says the Detroit-area businessman.

Snap Fitness allows members to access the gym 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by using a security card. Lazorka’s Snap Fitness will include aerobics classes and personal training.

“I’m putting my own financial dollars at stake in East Lansing because I strongly believe in the area,” he says. “It’s a good place to invest. I love the university and there’s an unmet need here.”

Source: Brad Lazorka, Snap Fitness

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.


Okemos-Based Delta Dental Provides $22,958 Boost to Beaumont

Okemos-based Delta Dental recently gave the Beaumont Hospitals Research Institute in Royal Oak a $22,958 grant to study the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation in patients with head and neck cancer.

A common chemo side effect for these patients is oral mucositis, a potentially serious condition that can cause mouth sores, pain and infection. Oral mucositis is caused when chemotherapy and radiation treatment damage normal cells in the lining of the mouth.

George Wilson, chief of radiation biology at Beaumont Hospital, says no systematic studies have been done to determine why some people experience oral mucositis and others do not.

“This grant will allow us to collect the primary data we need to seek additional funding from the National Institutes of Health,” Wilson says. “A better understanding of the biology underlying mucositis will help us to devise treatment strategies that maximize the killing of the oral cancer but minimize the damage to the tissues of the mouth.”

Delta Dental gives its Thomas P. Moore II Memorial Grant to organizations that support research or educational programs that focus on oral cancer. Moore, a former member of Delta Dental’s board of directors, died of oral caner in 2005.

Source: Kristin Kovach, Delta Dental

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


$35,000 Hunter Park GardenHouse Opening in Eastside Lansing

The Eastside Lansing Allen Neighborhood Center will host a grand opening for its $35,000 GardenHouse on May 10.

The GardenHouse is on the east side of Hunter Park, and is part of the Allen Neighborhood Center’s effort to make healthy food accessible to all Eastside residents.

“My prediction is that this is the first of many,” Joan Nelson says about the future of GardenHouses in Lansing. Nelson is the director of the Allen Neighborhood Center.

The GardenHouse is a greenhouse that has more than 20 different seed beds. Each bed is sponsored or tended by a different neighborhood or social group. When the plants are large enough, they’re moved to the garden outside of the green house. 

“I’m constantly being amazed by how growing things brings people together,” Nelson says.

Much of the food will be used for the Allen Neighborhood Center’s Breadbasket Program, which provides free bread and seasonal produce to Eastside neighbors.

“This improves nutrition and community connectivity and contributes to a healthier Eastside,” she says.

The GardenHouse is funded with $35,000 in State of Michigan Cool Cities funding and several donations from local businesses. 

Source: Joan Nelson, Allen Neighborhood Center

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


$320,000 Grand Ledge River Trail Expansion a Go

The Grand Ledge river trail expansion, which started out as a single project to extend the Grand Ledge Opera Authority’s river walk access, has turned into a community project.

“The more we thought about it, the more we thought it would be better to do in conjunction with the city,” says Harlin McDowell with the Grand Ledge Opera Authority.

This summer, the Grand Ledge Opera Authority, the City of Grand Ledge, the state and the Grand Ledge Rotary will watch as the foundation is laid for the $320,000 expansion of the river trail.

The Opera House Authority was going to pay to have the trail extended behind the Opera House. Now the expansion will extend for more than a mile, giving Grand Ledge citizens greater access to area parks.

“We think it’s more of a community program, that’s what it amounts to. We hope we can encourage people to utilize it for exercise,”McDowell says.

Source: Harlin McDowell, Grand Ledge Opera Authority

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


MSU Approves Investment of $13.3 Million in Recycling Center

As part of a university plan to reduce the strain on the environment, the Michigan State University (MSU) Board of Trustees has agreed to invest $13.3 million in a new university recycling center.

MSU already recycles many materials; however, not all campus buildings are set up for recycling. The $13.3 million investment will allow the university to recycle five materials in 579 university buildings.

MSU is aiming to have all 579 buildings recycling the five materials by 2010, doubling MSU’s recycling effort.

The school recycles cardboard, plastic, mixed paper and white paper. This year the university will start increasing its recycling efforts in residence halls.

Source: Lisa Mulcrone, Michigan State University

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.


$1 Million Riverhouse Renovation Offers Waterfront Fine Dining In Williamston

Williamston residents will soon be able to enjoy an upscale meal while gazing out over the Red Cedar River, thanks to a $1 million renovation that transformed a rundown 1929 building into an American bistro.

Sue Nichani and Scott Simmons are putting the final touches on their 310 W. Grand River restaurant, the Riverhouse, and hope to open their doors in the beginning of March.

“Everything we did looks like it’s been there since the original building was constructed,” Nichani says.

The property has a gazebo to accommodate larger events, a full service bar and a cigar bar.

Nichani and Simmons worked hard to create landscaping and an outdoor atmosphere that will allow diners enjoy the Red Cedar River while enjoying the new American cuisine on the patio.

“It’s probably about the only place around where you can sit on the river and enjoy it,” says Nichani.

Source: Lisa Hitchcock, City of Williamston

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


City Of East Lansing Celebrating $250,000 Aquatic Splash Pad

The City of East Lansing is hosting a gala to celebrate the opening of the newest addition to the Family Aquatic Center.

The $250,000 splash pad is a large, fully accessible water play area. It includes 12 interactive water features that spill, spray, mist or splash on kids. The splash pad is also wheelchair accessible.

“The splash pad will add a completely different experience to the water park,” says Elaine Hardy, with the City of East Lansing.

The East Lansing Rotary Club has raised $150,000 for the splash pad. The City of East Lasing is continuing to raise the remaining $100,000. The gala will be from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 28 at the Summit Community Bank on Abbot Road.

Source: Mikell Frey, City of East Lansing

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


New 600-Square Foot Yoga Studio Opens in Downtown East Lansing

Former accountant Jennifer Hayes  has traded spreadsheets for yoga mats. She recently opened her 600-square foot yoga studio, Yoga State, in downtown East Lansing.

Hayes formerly taught at the Michigan Athletic Club in East Lansing, but decided she wanted to open a yoga studio that wasn’t surrounded by a busy fitness center.

Yoga State has a cork floor which, unlike health club fitness floors, helps hold in heat and helps yogis stay limber during class.

“People say when they walk in that it’s really inviting and warm,” Hayes says.

Those who join Yoga State use punch cards instead of signing up for classes, so they can drop by whenever it’s convenient. Hayes has seven instructors.

Source: Jennifer Hayes, Yoga State

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


Successful Yoga Studio Adds Second Location in Old Town Lansing

Hilltop Yoga owner Hilaire Lockwood recently opened her second Hilltop Yoga studio in a 1,600 square foot building in Lansing's Old Town.

Lockwood says she opened the 108 East Grand River Avenue studio to accommodate the 13 teachers and growing client base of her Haslett-based Hilltop Yoga location.

“I want to hold on to these teachers that want to stick around with us. These people are amazing not only as people, but as teachers,” she says.

Lockwood says the Haslett location gains an average of five clients a week, a growth rate she expects to extend to the Old Town location. Lockwood looked at expanding in East Lansing, but settled on Old Town because she loves the area.

Lockwood lived, trained and taught yoga in Los Angeles for 15 years before moving back to East Lansing area, which is where she grew up.

“Old Town reminded me very much of L.A. and I loved that. Also, the community is amazing,” she says.

Source: Hilaire Lockwood, Hilltop Yoga

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


 



Wharton Plans $11 Million Expansion to Support Broadway Shows in East Lansing

For years, Broadway shows have made a point to stop at Michigan State University’s (MSU) Wharton Center. Though the center is thrilled to host these shows, the center can barely fit actors and the crew.

To fix this problem, the Wharton Center is pulling together $11 million to fund a massive expansion project.

The expansion includes a new freight elevator, expanding dressing rooms and the gift shop/lobby area, and adding a new façade, multi-purpose space, corporate lounges, educational space and administrative offices.

“We’re spread all over, we’re literally in broom closets,” says the Wharton Center’s Kent Love about the staff’s work space. 

To accommodate Broadway crews, which can be quite large, the Wharton Center currently lets the shows take over its smaller stage, putting that stage out of commission until the Broadway show leaves. The expansion will allow the smaller stage to be used while a Broadway performance is in town.

“It’s really about creating the whole experience for the community,” Love says about the expansion. “I really think it speaks volumes that the community can support this.”

The Wharton Center is in the midst of a fundraising effort for the expansion. Love says they hope to break ground in the spring of 2008.

Source: Kent Love, Wharton Center

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.


$1.7 Million Outdoor Amphitheater Planned for Lansing Riverfront Park

The City of Lansing has plans to give the Common Ground music festival, other musicians and performance artists a permanent space on the Grand River with the construction of a $1.7 million outdoor amphitheater.

“This will really bring our parks up to a national level and we’ll look like Chicago or Seattle,” says Murdock Jemerson, Lansing Parks and Recreation director. 

The amphitheater will be in the Adado Riverfront Park off of Grand River Avenue in downtown Lansing. The proposed theater will include a stage, speakers, storage space, restrooms and dressing rooms, and will weigh 50,000 pounds.

Funding for the Lou Adado Riverfront Park will come from the sale of the current City Market building. The sale is part of the city’s plan to move more market businesses down to the riverfront. Developer Pat Gillespie is planning to buy the City Market and redevelop the area around the property, turning it into a $45 million mixed use space.

“This will help us become an entertainment district and be a magnet for people all over the country,” says Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero about opening up the riverfront.

The city hopes to break ground on the project in 2009.

Source: Randy Hannan, City of Lansing

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.


$1.3 Million Slated for East Lansing Sidewalk and Pedestrian Enhancements

In order to counter the effects of a speed limit hike on Saginaw Street in East Lansing from 35 miles per hour to 45 miles per hour, the City of East Lansing and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) are putting up $1.3 million for sidewalk improvements.

The city agreed to the speed limit change when MDOT agreed to help put in sidewalk infrastructure that would allow bikers and walkers to continue along the route safely.

“There are bikers and pedestrians, and one of the issues is that we have a lot more multi-family residential properties on Saginaw than we did three years ago,” says Todd Sneathen with the City of East Lansing.

The city will widen some sidewalks and extend the length of others.

The project runs along Saginaw Street in East Lansing near Patriarche Park between Coolidge Road and Hagadorn.

The city will pay an estimated $260,040 for the project. Transportation Enhancement Funds are expected to fill the remaining $1.04 million.

Source: Todd Sneathen, City of East Lansing

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.


Roundabout Caps $3 Million Summer of Downtown Lansing Pedestrian Improvements

The recently installed roundabout at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Washington Avenue in Downtown Lansing caps a summer in which the city poured more than $3 million into street improvements, pedestrian crosswalks, flower beds and benches leading up to the intersection.

“Part of it was about improving safety at that intersection and part of it was about aesthetics,” says Randy Hannan with the City of Lansing. The roundabout opened in the middle of October and "is designed to help pedestrians make their way through traffic, not help speeding cars get Downtown faster."

Unlike other city roundabouts, the one at this intersection has a stop sign at each entrance point. This means that cars stop before entering the roundabout, giving pedestrians a chance to cross.

It also helps the visually impaired, who wait to hear the traffic stop before they cross. A traditional roundabout never stops traffic, discouraging pedestrians from crossing, Hannan says.

Hannan says this is all part of a plan to get more residents walking around and hanging out in Downtown Lansing.

Source: Randy Hannan, City of Lansing

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


Two Acre Off-Leash Play Park Opening for East Lansing Dogs

East Lansing is working on drumming up $40,000 to pay for a two-acre, off-leash park for area dogs.

“This is kind of a trend around the nation,” says Wendy Wilmers Longpre with the new Northern Tail Dog Park. “The amount of dog ownership is going up substantially. They’re an important part of people’s lives and people like to recreate with their animals.”

The Northern Tail Dog Park will be adjacent to the 60-acre athletic complex in East Lansing off of Abbot Road. The City of East has contributed $10,000 to the project.

Wilmers says the park needs $20,000 for fencing and $20,000 for upkeep, signage and landscaping. The Northern Tail Dog Park is in the middle of fundraising to get the additional money.

Source: Wendy Wilmers, Northern Tail Dog Park

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.


$3 Million Project Links Downtown Lansing With Students

The concrete pedestrian park between the 200 and 300 blocks of Washington Avenue in Downtown Lansing is being torn out, allowing Washington Avenue to extend to the Lansing Community College campus.

The park was put in roughly 35 years ago, the idea being that closing the road to traffic would encourage pedestrian use. That didn’t work, however, so the City of Lansing is using $3 million to open it back up.

“It became a barrier to people connecting with and using our downtown,” says City of Lansing Spokesman Randy Hannan of the pedestrian park. 

The street extension will open in mid-November. The majority of the project is funded with grants and road money. The city will add 200 new parking spots to the area, new pedestrian crosswalks, rain gardens and benches.

Source: Randy Hannan, City of Lansing 

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie



Historic Eastside Lansing Grocery Gets $19,000 Update

Recent exterior and interior remodeling on a historic grocery store on Lansing's Eastside amounted to a $19,000 improvement to the property.

The exterior improvements on the 2200 Michigan Ave. building, which is now home to public relations firm Serkaian Communications, included new awnings, new siding and improvements to the upstairs apartment. 

Building owner Colleen Serkaian says the exterior was designed to replicate what the building might have looked like in the 1920s, when it was the neighborhood grocery store.

"It's an image that you want to portray," Serkaian says about the importance of updating and taking care of the building exterior. "It's just like with your home. You want your home to look nice, and we wanted the building to be a positive reflection not only on my husband's PR business, but on the community as a whole." 

The Serkaian's used a more than $9,000 façade improvement grant distributed by the Allen Neighborhood Center to help pay for the changes.

Source: Colleen Serkaian, owner 

Ivy Hughes, development news editor, can be reached here.

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


Millions Slated for West Village Development in East Lansing

Abood Properties is working on an multi-million dollar development that will include condos, townhouses and mixed-use property. The West Village project is near downtown East Lansing, on Grand River Ave. near the Beaners coffeeshop and Valley Court Park.

"We think the product we have created really caters to every demographic," says Emily Soracco, who does marketing and sales for Abood Properties. "It meets the price point for first time home buyers and empty nesters."

The townhouses face Grand River Ave. and sell for $259,900 to $359,900. Several of the 15 units have been leased. The 32 condos behind the townhouses known as the Flats, include studios, one bedroom and two bedroom units and are selling for $101,900 to $146,900.

Abood Properties will break ground on the four story mixed-use building, which is east of the townhouses, in the next couple of months. The bottom floor will include retail space. The top floor will include 33 condos.

"We're in a great location because you can walk to rest, coffee shops and any sporting event at MSU," Soracco says. "I think the biggest trend with urban development right now is making homes in a walkable area."

Source: Emily Soracco, Abood Properties

Developer: Abood Properties
Builder: Platinum, Fryling Construction

Ivy Hughes is the development news editor for Capital Gains. She can be reached at ivy@capitalgainsmedia.com.


New $100,000 Dog Park Adds to Long List of Lansing Amenities

Lansing area dogs have a place in the city to call their own:  the new $100,000 Howard and Erna Soldan Dog Park, which opened this week.

The park is adjacent to the Hawk Island County Park in Lansing. It includes 17-acres of land and a pond for pooches that like to splash in the water.

"The owners are happy to have a place to play and exercise while their dogs are off their leashes," says Ellen Sullivan, president of Friends of Greater Lansing Dog Parks. "People are grateful for this because the city has leash laws in virtually every area."

Most of the initial $100,000 investment paid for fencing around the park. Business owner Howard Soldan II gave the county a $50,000 grant for the park to be distributed over several years.

Both Ingham County and the City of Lansing donated $5,000 of their own funds for the park. The rest of the $100,000 investment comes from private investors. Ingham County oversees the park.

Source: Ellen Sullivan, Friends of Greater Lansing Dog Parks.

Ivy Hughes is the development news editor for Capital Gains. She can be reached at ivy@capitalgainsmedia.com.

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie




Lansing Neighborhood Finalist for IKEA Prize

Lansing's Old Town neighborhood has made the cut for a national contest to win $50,000 worth of goodies from the Swedish furniture design darling, IKEA.

If Old Town wins the national contest, Old Town businesses will get $50,000 worth of the fab furniture donated. Old Town Commercial Association Director Jamie Schriner-Hooper says the $50,000 will be divided among 10 different Old Town businesses, including Gone 2 the Dogs, Pablo's, the Sierra Club and the Headroom Salon.

IKEA invited communities across the nation to submit a three-minute video about why they deserve to have the $50,000 of new furniture. Communities with qualifying videos were put on the IKEA Web site so the public could vote for which one should score the swag. Old Town's video submission is called "Old Town Lansing - Just a little past normal. . . ."

When the voting closed last week, Old Town Lansing had almost 1,000 more votes than the second place community, and more votes than all other eight competing communities combined.

Now that Old Town's made the final cut, all votes need to be verified. Old Town will hear from IKEA on or around Sept. 5.

Ivy Hughes is the development news editor for Capital Gains. She can be reached at ivy@capitalgainsmedia.com.
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