Downtown Lansing Moving Guide
Here’s Capital Gains’ look at moving to Downtown Lansing. Also check out our guides to visiting and investing in
Someone choosing to live in Downtown Lansing will likely list walkability as one of the area’s greatest assets. Within a one-mile stretch, Downtown Lansing residents have access to more amenities and hot spots than most whole communities.
There’s the many fine dining establishments like Troppo
, Tavern on the Square
, the Capitol City Grille
and the Knight Cap
, frequented by Downtown’s many government employees.
Residents, professionals and law students frequently stop by local spots to grab a quick bite to eat. Dimitri's
classic Coney Island hot dogs are a local favorite, as are Great Harvest
, the Spotted Dog Café
, Cottage Inn Pizza
, Roma Bakery
, Soup to Nutz Bistro
and the Daily Bagel
. And of course, great bars such as The Firm
, The Exchange
and Brannigan Brothers
open their doors for the after-five crowd.
Downtown Lansing residents are also close to all life's little necessities, including last-minute card shops, a drug store, sandwich shops and souvenir boutiques. Lofty Living
With all its walkable amenities, Downtown Lansing was bound to attract new residents. A downtown loft redevelopment boom started with The Arbaugh
, a mixed-use building on the corner of Washington Avenue and Kalamazoo, with 48 residential lofts that rent for $750 to $1,200 a month.
“When I first saw it, there was an absolute ‘wow,’” explains Andrea Ragan, who has lived at The Arbaugh since graduating from Michigan State University in 2005.
“I was looking at all the most affordable urban places and seeing your typical tiny studio apartments in buildings from the 50s. This place blew them out of the water, in both price and in style.”
Having grown up in Gaylord, this city-girl-at-heart found city living first in downtown East Lansing. “I loved the action, knowing that I could walk outside at 2 a.m. and there was stuff going on. I could order a pizza at 4 a.m. That’s when I fell in love with the urban lifestyle.”
The location is another big attraction for Ragan. “I like that everything is close, that I don’t have to drive everywhere, that I can walk it, bike it, or bus it,” she says. She cites the Tavern on the Square, Kelly’s Downtown, and Brannigan Brothers as frequent hangouts, as well as The Firm for live bands.
Across the street are The Lofts
, a 10,000 square foot building that includes nine residential lofts and four businesses. Medical student Adam Susmarski also says living in The Lofts conveniently places him close to restaurants, bars and coffee shops.
“I didn’t want just white walls,” he says. “I wanted the opportunity to be in a place where they renovated a building that has unique style and structure.”
Lofts literally line Downtown’s Washington Avenue, many situated above independently owned shops like Decker’s Coffee
, Brannigan Brothers, Clem's Comics
and Cornerstone Coffee
Loft redevelopment in Downtown Lansing has been so prevalent in the last seven years that developers are running out of rehabs and are building new, such as the new Stadium District
Nearly complete, this massive project sits across the street from Oldsmobile Park. Other planned Downtown developments include the high-rise Capitol Club Towers. Genesee Bridge
But before Cooley Law School
students and baby boomers started making the move to Downtown's lofts, the bulk of the Downtown population lived in what is known as the Genesee Neighborhood
The Genesee Neighborhood serves as an artful bridge between Downtown and the Westside. It arose in the 1930s, where two men first built cabins in the thick of a swamp to hide their counterfeiting business from the government.
Today, Genesee is a diverse neighborhood that attracts families, small business owners and government officials. Many of the homes in the area have maintained their historical integrity and have been converted into independent businesses.
“In our neighborhood, it’s not about keeping up with the Joneses, it’s about being yourself,” says Genesee resident, Bob Johnson.
As the development director for the city, Johnson is one of many who chose to live within walking distance of work and Downtown’s many assets.Many an Amenity
The bar scene is the tip of the iceberg of Downtown attractions. Residents are also close to the baseball stadium, parks and festivals, the Lansing River Trail, and lots of cultural institutions, museums, galleries and theaters.
They also have access to the City Market
, which has everything from homemade soap to fresh produce. Developer Pat Gillespie is working with the city and the market to expand and move the market closer to the nearby Grand River, as part of a proposed waterfront development project.
The Capital Area District Library
(CADL) is a great, free resource, and is a good place to catch independent films, find an Anime club or attend a home beer brewing seminar.
While many of the eateries and attractions are in historic buildings, Downtown Lansing residents walk all over Michigan history every day.
The city recently created the “Michigan Walk of Fame
,” a two-block section of Washington Avenue modeled after Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
A big concern of many people considering a move to Downtown Lansing is the school system. With more than 15,000 students, the Lansing School District is the largest in the area and has seen a decline in student population over the last few years.
The district is trying to remedy the decline by marketing new services and programs. Lansing’s Eastern High School
has the area’s only International Baccalaureate program. Many Downtown residents send their kids to Bingham Elementary
, where a college preparatory curriculum focuses on giving kids the skills to be successful in the new global economy.
Other schools, such as Post Oak Elementary
, have language immersion programs, giving students the benefit of a bi-lingual education.
The school district, the city, and private partners are also working together to reuse some of Lansing’s vacant neighborhood schools, already turning several into technology education centers.
The country’s largest law school, the Thomas M. Cooley law school, is also downtown, just blocks from the Capitol. A short walk north is Lansing Community College
(LCC), which recently put $11 million into an expansion of its University Center.
Whether you choose to live in the Genesee Neighborhood, in a loft at the center of Downtown, or in the Cherry Hills Neighborhood, your downtown options are nearly endless. You’ll find yourself biking and walking to work, hitting the local YMCA
, and exploring the area’s many entertainment hubs—everything a downtown is supposed to offer.
Ivy Hughes is the Development Editor for Capital Gains and can be reached here
. Brad Garmon is the Managing Editor.
Dave Trumpie is the managing photographer for Capital Gains. He is a freelance photographer and owner of Trumpie Photography.
Andrea Ragan at The Arbaugh
Capital Area District Library
Cooley Law School
All Photographs © Dave Trumpie