LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – More than $424 million dollars in developments around the state was approved by the Michigan Strategic Fund board on Tuesday. One of these projects is already in the works in downtown Lansing.
What was once the site of a credit union headquarters is now getting a second life. Developers said the mixed-use complex on south Capitol Avenue brings both more apartments and commercial space to downtown. Business leaders said this will help the district move their focus to long term residents.
“We know that the people are going to continue to not only add to the activity and vibrancy all hours of the day. But they are then supporting our local economy and our small business because they are here,” said Cathleen Edgerly, the executive director of Downtown Lansing Inc.
She said several factors will help downtown turn its focus from commuters to people who live in the neighborhood: housing and business. One project is doing just that with the renovation of the former Lake Trust Credit Union headquarters.
Developers said the original building will be turned to 55 apartments for families and commercial space. The second building will house 117 apartments and a commercial first floor. Media partners at Mlive reported the project was approved for $1.3 million dollars in state tax incentives by the MSF board.
Edgerly said the update comes as the district is well ahead of meeting the goal of reducing 50 percent of first floor vacancies by the end of 2023.
“It’s because so many people are investing, and are in downtown Lansing, and are seeing they have a home here. Whether it is their business home, whether it’s their residential home or whether they are working here,” she said.
The recovery is also being seen in tourism to the capital city. Julie Pingston, with the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitor Bureau, said while staffing levels are an issue, visits and tourist spending is improving compared to last year.
“Before the pandemic, visitors brought in $692 million dollars. And so, obviously that dwindled to not anywhere where we are at today. But it is bouncing back, and those dollars are coming back to our community,” she said.
Small business owners are also optimistic of the recovery ahead.
“We are in the process of rebuilding, and we are going to rebuild a funky little community,” said Laura Castle owner of Capital Hippie.
The Lake Trust project is expected to wrap up by December while the second housing project will go through the summer of 2023.