In a five acre site at the corner of Grand River Ave. and Abbot Rd. in East Lansing, immediately across the street from Michigan State University’s Abbot Rd. entrance, developers are proposing to put in five buildings with multiple uses.The applicant is proposing to demolish the buildings at 100, 124, 128, 130, 136, and 140 West Grand River Avenue and 303 Abbot Road to construct a ten-story, mixed-use building.The city of East Lansing recently approved an amendment that only requires 50% majority vote to sell city land, which would make future plans easier to execute. Local businesses want this intersection to be the beginning of the downtown area, instead it has become the “beginning and the end” of downtown East Lansing.
Connecting Community at MSU
Author: Katherine Bouma
While East Lansing is a university town, it lacks the sense of community like Atlanta, one of the top university cities in the world. At Georgia Tech, strong partnerships are built between the surrounding industry, government, and businesses and the university. An inclusive environment between students and community is apparent and this university produces the most of engineers of any university. By incorporating 100 centers for interdisciplinary research and collaborative student centers, its students are equipped for a better world view. upon graduating. These key connections are not apparent in the MSU community. A seemingly impassable barrier of streets like Michigan Avenue and Grand River exists to create almost two separate communities. East Lansing's government has made it quite clear: the university is its own entity and residents of East Lansing are not meant to be intertwined with the university culture. There is much debate as to what will be made of the Grand River/ Abbott intersection. Instead of contributing to this separate culture within the city, this project can be the beginning of a better-connected community. W,Y,X architects have proposed a unique way of connecting the community. A proposed "loop" between Grand River, Michigan Avenue, and the River Trail will be able to connect residents and university life and vice versa. The proposed project could be used to be a starting place or connecting point in this loop with inclusive community businesses and student centers. By creating a physical path, less resistance is in place of bridging the gap between students, staff and residents in the community. By connecting all stakeholders, paths can be crossed, both physically and creatively to exchange ideas about a more encompassing sense of community.
Economic and social stimulation through social scene
Author: Garrett Brown
In East Lansing, economic stimulation is provided by the massive student population of over 50,000. The fact that East Lansing isn’t creating ideas revolved around promoting both economic and social stimulation through the student population is mind boggling. With the Park District/Grand River and Abbott project East Lansing is once again failing to realize the steps they need to take to create a project which benefits East Lansing on all facets. Developing buildings for mixed uses such as a hotel or creating even more apartments is a step in the wrong direction. Looking at the project’s location, it is right next to the hot spot bars and clubs. However, East Lansing has a very weak bar and club scene compared to other college towns around the United States. By using this prime location to instead create an 18 and over club, economic and social stimulation will be increased far more than any other use of this space. As college students are over 18, providing a club for every student to be able to attend would be beyond optimal. Clubs generate a great deal of money in revenue, which will provide East Lansing with more than enough in taxes to put to new projects. In addition, the club would be right along Grand River which is home to an extensive amount of food chains which would benefit heavily as well. Lastly, this club would include TV’s all around, so it would be a popular spot during the week as well as the weekend.
Author: Isabella Hewitt
Principle: Adaptable Spaces
The Park District lies in a key location to both MSU and East Lansing. A large plot of land located between many restaurants and campus, this is would be perfect to create a cultural gathering point for both students and residents. While there can be apartments and stores built, it would be interesting that if on the back end (towards Albert) there was an open courtyard that housed a restaurant. I spent the last six months in Budapest, Hungary, where they have this thing called ruin bars that are a sort of bar with tons of art pieces but during the day they are a farmers market, preschool, and cultural gathering point. If in the back of this development there was an indoor/outdoor restaurant created that also allowed for public pieces of art and local activities that brought both college students and families together, it would serve as an area to bridge the divide. Below is a picture of one of these places in Budapest and while I do not think America or East Lansing is ready for something quite like this, drawing certain principles such as art, connectivity, and different cultures, are key takeaways to create a better space in the Park District that we can be sure will be utilized.
Author: Brendan Carney
In most cities, East Lansing to be included, alleyways have the singular use to businesses to me utilized for deliveries and discarding waste. They are considered dark and dreary by most and avoided at all costs. However, the incorporation of street art in alleyways can open these dead spaces up to foot traffic. These spaces should not be unused and should be creative, well lite, spaces for artists to show off their art work. This creates a more comforting area and connects the different businesses to the community.
In 1986 the City of Philadelphia Mural and Arts Program was established by Jane Golden, a local artist, as part of an anti-graffiti campaign. The goal of the campaign was to facilitate the collaboration of local artists with prosecuted graffiti vandals to create murals around the city. Each year 50-100 murals are created and restored throughout the community. Community groups educate children in art and involve them in the creation of these murals.
Making Our Streets Safer for Everyone
Author: Kendra Hungerford
Principle: Multi-modal Transportation
Walking links together virtually every trip that we take. So why is it that there seems to be such little focus on making cities more walkable for its citizens? East Lansing, being a college town, needs to maximize walking as a primary mode of transportation, alongside driving and biking. They should focus less on making the roadways less congested, and more on expanding and reinforcing mode choice, improving walkability. Ninety-five percent of people who live in the Lansing area stated that improvement in walkability is a change that they would like to see made where they live.
Grand River generates hustle and bustle on a daily basis, causing a constant flow of traffic running directly between Michigan State’s campus and residential East Lansing, making it virtually impossible to travel safely and efficiently by bike or by foot. In order to create a truly successful and efficient development, the area should be accessible by multiple forms of transportation. By creating separate lanes for driving, biking, and walking alike, it will make streets less congested, therefore allowing all three types of traffic to move at a much more efficient pace. These separate lanes will also make travel safer for all involved because it would reduce the amount of interaction between drivers, walkers, and bikers.
Parking for Valley Court and the Church
Author: Marilyn Hecht
Principle: Safe Parking
Through interactions in the community, I’ve noticed a large number of people use the Valley Court Park with their children and many people attend church through The People’s Church in East Lansing. With current plans, the development will destroy parking space for the church and the parkway. Instead of only creating parking for condo residents, they should create another level on the condo on the corner of Evergreen and Valley Court to allow parking for these community events. It could also be similar to the parking on MSU’s campus as there are certain hours people cannot park there, but that way the community can still be involved in the area if they are far away.
Green Space Proposal
Author: Gejsi Rada
Principle: Go Better Green
With the recent tearing down of the old dilapidated building on the corner of Grand River and Abbott, the amount of space in East Lansing has suddenly opened up, and possibilities of what to do with it are endless. While campus has several areas for students and citizens to connect, East Lansing really deprives the people of such an area. A public “green space” with benches and trees would really integrate the beauty that is present on campus, with what could be available with the space availability in the city of EL. Generally crowded with apartment buildings and restaurants offering a quick cheap meal, it would be refreshing to give this area back to the people and use it in such a way that would bring them together while engaging with nature.
Offering a Seat in Downtown East Lansing
Author: Kate Den Houter
Principle: Placemaking and Community Engagement
Over the last several decades, many cities have either chosen to remove or not even incorporate seating into their urban areas. Several of these cities have chosen to remove seating in a fight against the hordes of homeless people that have taken up residence in these urban spaces. However, a lack of seating has been found to have an adverse effect for these cities and their local communities. “The absence of seating is just one way to exclude people from places” (Arieff, 2017). East Lansing like many of these cities is severely lacking when it comes to the amenity of public seating. While some downtown areas choose to incorporate benches, outdoor restaurant seating, or even community parks/squares with moveable seating, you would struggle to find adequate seating areas in Downtown East Lansing.
Allowing residents and students a place to sit when visiting the downtown area creates a stronger sense of community and strengthens the bonds with the area. East Lansing is currently in a period of reconstruction. Several projects are being proposed to redesign the town. One of these projects is the Park District/Grand River and Abbott. However, it has been said that the developer for this area has chosen to walk away from the project, meaning that the plot of land is up for grabs. The Grand River and Abbott Location would be a perfect location for a community square with mass amounts of seating to accommodate residents and the local university community. Ultimately, the choice to incorporate seating areas in Downtown East Lansing would be an easy, simple, and relatively cheap way to strengthen community ties with the Downtown area.
Source: Arieff, A. (2017, October 20). Designing a More Inclusive City. The New York Times. Retrieved from: https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/10/20/opinion/designing-inclusive-cities.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share&referer=https://t.co/pzBpyGxdvE?amp=1
Author: Marilyn Hecht
Principle: Connection with Nature
With the recent demolition of the old buildings at Grand River Ave and Abbot, the space seems vacant and open before the new construction begins. The current builder has now dropped from the plans, but if a new building is to be put up, it would be beneficial to create a little courtyard or garden space between that building and the courtyard of the People’s Church of East Lansing. This green space will help connect the new modern building with nature while letting the community have a beautiful space to walk in between the buildings. Thus providing a center to make connections. This will also provide a space for children to play and other families to spend time among the college student community. If the developer does not implement this in the blueprint, I think the city of East Lansing should require this of the reconstruction to allow the gap between families and college students to be decreased.
Creating an Interactive Environment
Author: Benjamin Roth
Principle: Connectivity and Shared Culture
Grand River Ave provides a natural barrier between the city of East Lansing and MSU's campus. The university tends to look inward for planning, seeing itself as a 'walled garden,' theoretically offering everything within its boundaries. The city tends to distance itself from the university, too, when devising economic, residential, and aspirational policy. In both of these cases, those in charge of decision making are committing a fatal error- neither of these bodies exist separately from the other, and, in fact, their shared purpose is the entire reason either exists in the first place. Instead of NIMBY-style rent policies, which incentivize consolidation and higher prices, the city should embrace its status as a college town and seek to expound the positives (rather than running from the negatives). A huge step in the right direction can come at the blank slate that is the Grand River and Abbot development area. This location is located conveniently central to both the city and the university, and using the space to provide something other than an area for public interaction would be criminal. Instead of having soulless retail chains or fast-casual restaurants littering the facade, we can use this space for a park with benches and fountains, or as a multi-use place for outdoor concerts, festivals, movie screenings, bookstores, and coffee shops. Regardless of what is put in this space, we must realize that environments that expound sociability are mutually beneficial to both the university and the city. Public space would qualify as an investment in both.
Community Involvement Increases Satisfaction
Author: Kelsey Storemski
Principle: Community Involvement
The Grand River and Abbott Park District development plans have been thwarted multiple times, which has caused a lot of financial distress and tension within the city. The old and crumbling buildings on the lot have recently been destroyed and are now a pile of concrete and dirt that is surrounded by a wall of aggressive metal fencing. It has left East Lansing in a half-empty state of despair that creates anxiety and sadness for its residence. New development plans have once again fallen through due to several issues that have occurred during the development process. City council has failed to include the community of East Lansing in the planning process and has continuously tried to sign on plans for large, expensive, and utopian projects. The city has been afraid to invest a substantial amount of money into these plans because they are expensive and have shafted much of the responsibility onto developers that do not have the available capital and lack thorough understanding of East Lansing’s design and culture. Because of the city’s approach to these plans, they have made little effort to improve the lengthy approval process for new ideas and did not do their due diligence to communicate and negotiate the specific details of the development, which led to a bullwhip effect on problems.
The city council of East Lansing must change their approach to this approval process by involving the community’s thoughts into its approval process. It has been proven that city’s that communicate with others in the community on city planning have a higher sense of pride and satisfaction within their city. There is also a greater chance of inclusiveness when it comes to diverse demographics within the city because the whole community is taken into consideration. An open conversation with residents needs to be created, and their input needs to be taken seriously. East Lansing is filled with intelligent persons that have a lot to say about where they live, and they have a great understanding of what their city needs. The community should have a say in what kind of projects should be implemented, how the city should finance these plans, and who can be trusted to develop these ideas. Public opinion can be analyzed with public surveys, open meetings, online voting, and increased awareness through advertising.
Designated Space for Community Self-Expression
Author: Suzanna Smentowski
It seems like most of the construction projects that are popping up in the East Lansing area are all residential and high-end apartment-style housing. While the city is changing to accommodate more people, not much has changed to create places for the people to be creative and be involved in the placemaking of a city. Grand River and Abbott is planned to be the newly designed center of East Lansing, so it seems appropriate to merge the construction of newly developed space with a designated space the people can use for self-expression. This project plan mentions that there would be a public plaza on the corner of Abbott and Grand River. I think this would be the perfect spot to allow for people to create a place they can enjoy. If done well, this space could turn into several different examples of placemaking. It could become a site for public art projects – where artists could paint or chalk up sidewalks and graffiti walls. It could become an area for people to sit and relax, eat lunch, or read a book. Much like the rock on MSU’s campus, this space would give people the opportunity to express themselves, get creative, or send a message. It could bring a community together and would exemplify the creativity of a city as the art within the space would always be changing.
East Lansing Cultural Center
Author: Suzanna Smentowski
Principle: Bringing Culture over the Lines
Michigan State University draws students in from all over the country and all over the world. Over half of these students live in off-campus housing, contributing to the cultural makeup of the city of East Lansing. In addition to the cultural makeup of the university, Lansing and East Lansing have quite a few prominent cultural communities in their makeup. While MSU’s campus offers space and resources for international students to feel more comfortable at the university, it would be fitting for the city of East Lansing to create a cultural center that would promote the different cultures that make up the city’s demographics. The center could be incorporated into the development plans for the Grand River and Abbott development. A cultural center in the city would not only help people of different backgrounds feel more comfortable in the city they live in, but it would be an opportunity for the community to learn more about itself. This space could host cultural events that would allow East Lansing residents to meet their neighbors while learning about them and other parts of the world. This center would not be limited to any particular group of people like the Islamic Center of East Lansing or the Nokomis Learning Center (a Native American culture center) in Lansing. Instead, it would serve as a safe space within the community for people to learn about each other.
Adaptability, Affordability, and Smart Growth
Author: Kelsey Storemski
Principle: Smart Growth
Grand River and Abbott’s Park District is in desperate need of a development plan that is realistic to what the city can afford. The recent project for development on this lot ultimately fell apart because the plan was too expensive for the city and its developers to afford. City Council needs to realize that an underfunded and expensive project that sets too high of expectations at once is not what the city needs. The debt associated with this lot is only worsening as more time passes because the city only wants to accept the most elite of development plans. Greater financial success can be achieved with a new development plan that implements smart growth and is capable of adapting in the future. The city should hire a developer that is knowledgeable about East Lansing’s history and architecture, and is well versed in smart growth concepts. A smaller yet equally efficient building space and city square should be designed on this lot. This building should be compact, capable of mixed-use for businesses and affordable living spaces, and should also have some artistic and modern aspects in its layout. This design should attract businesses such as restaurants, bars, and shops. The remaining area should be converted into a park area for students and other residents to interact with. The design should have a good connection with nature and Lansing’s art community. These ideas set a great foundation for bigger ideas and will ultimately attract more investors who are excited about the city’s progress. As more funding is eventually found, the city of East Lansing can slowly and consistently build into more complex and elite development plans.
Connection to a community's culture
Author: Kristina Gerding
The location of the Park District/ Grand River and Abbott project is vital to the culture of East Lansing because of its influential location. This location is ideal for attracting both the students and community members who spend time on Grand River. The buildings proposed in the plans are intended to be mixed-use with availability for business spaces. But in order to be successful in creating a space that successfully defines downtown East Lansing's culture, we need to look at how the culture is constantly changing and being redefined. The newly emerging urban culture that is making its way through many cities is also emerging in East Lansing. New spaces coming to this area need to encompass both this new urban culture along with the historic culture of MSU. Bringing in new vitalized projects that include art, cuisine, and nature instead of business buildings would help to transform and progress East Lansing in the urban movement.
Growing Engagement and Flowers in Downtown East Lansing
Author: Kate Den Houter
Principle: Community Engagement and Connection to Nature
After the developer decided to walk away from the proposed plans for the Park District Project, Downtown East Lansing has been left with an eye-sore in the shape of an unutilized and dirty construction site. The plot of land is quite large and in a central location, making it easily accessible by both university students and the East Lansing community. As Downtown East Lansing is rather lacking in terms of green space and community engagement, I believe that this abandoned construction site would be the perfect location to create a community garden.
Not only would a community garden beautify the downtown area by replacing an unutilized dirt patch with a wide assortment of flowers and plants, but community gardens have also been proven to have a lot of other benefits for the surrounding residents. Community gardens provide a common meeting space and activity for community members of all walks of life to partake in together. These gardens provide a common purpose for local residents and help to build a stronger sense of community. Another benefit of creating community gardens are that they provide the opportunity for education. Those who partake in gardening often find themselves learning about plant growth, health benefits, nutrition, organic practices, and even recycling and waste practices. Overall, community gardens have been proven to be incredibly beneficial to urban areas, and I believe that Downtown East Lansing would benefit immensely from creating one.
The Buildings are Tumbling: Do Not let the Community Tumble too
Author: Vanessa Velazquez
East Lansing has finally undergone some clean up on the corner of Grand River and Abbott. The abandoned building that gawked at the other side of the this busy street has been demolished and is in the middle of clean up. But the daunting question is what should go there? This area should be used to create a space that is social, comfort, accessible to all people, and active. In other words, this area should undergo the placemaking process that will build up the East Lansing community. Adding another building to this street is reported to risk the rent of the nearby houses and apartments to go up more, raising the rent could actually drive residents to more affordable housing on the outer perimeters of this city creating more abandoned complexes. This street is a hotspot for people to go and eat, grab a drink, do some shopping; therefore creating an open space is more suitable here to encourage more social interaction. When thinking of a space relatable to what is envisioned here, the concept of placing chairs together at the Wells courtyard should be goal as well. On a warm, beautiful day you see clusters of people gathered around enjoying the day or even sitting alone reading a book; this a goal healthy goal to move towards. Developments should never come at the cost of the surrounding residents, that is why this development should be rethought.
Bringing Culture over the Lines
Author: Vanessa Velazquez
East Lansing is the home to many different types of people from here and abroad. If a building needs to be built it should be more housing. This building should a welcoming center that displays cultural art and opportunities to engage with people they never have before. Michigan State University has a significant amount of international students that could have a less administrative place to celebrate their culture like the International Center. Our domestic community has some diversity as well, this center could be used to celebrate cultural or religious holidays like El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) which just recently past on November 2nd. If not a building, then an open space with walls that can be painted over like MSU's rock to celebrate the diversity of the community.
Author: Makenzie Brown
Principle: Culture is Key
MSU accommodates a huge number of international students, myself included and thus why I think it’s so important to consider culture as a good city principle to keep in mind when developing projects. In this class we have explored several different city squares across the world and I believe the Grand River and Abbott construction would be an ideal place East Lansing’s very own city square. A city square would act as an awesome cultural hub for all of Lansing’s residents.
The city square would focus on creating a place of belonging for all age groups, ethnicity, religions, languages, and personalities. Almost every city in the world has a square, of some sort, that gives culture a home. My hometown Glasgow, Scotland has its own square called ‘George Square’ and it is used all year round. If East Lansing followed suit I think it would bring tremendous benefits to our community as a whole. Ideas for using the square involve having a Christmas market to celebrate a holiday followed by billions all over the world. Other cultural experiences such as Chinese new year or craft beer festivals or Mardi Gras or highland games all would be awesome ways to use the square. Then on top of having different festivals throughout the year, food trucks could be permanently located in and around the square. A Chinese food truck, American food truck, Indian food truck, British food truck, Italian and so on. I know Drexel University in Philadelphia homes plenty of food trucks and they are used and loved by all of the people. I would love MSU to have the same amenity.
Author: Makenzie Brown
Principle: Economic Impact of Small Businesses
Grand River has so much potential and there are so many brilliant ways to make this space awesome. A good city principle I am very passionate about is economic impact of small businesses. The creation of a farmer’s market would really compliment this principle. A farmer’s market is a physical retail marketplace featuring foods sold directly by farmers to consumers. Typical foods that are sold from stands or tables are fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, beverages, etc. Lansing lacks places to get local fresh produce so a farmer’s market is perfect to bring that aspect to Grand River.
The creation of a famer’s market will not only generate business for local farmers but also work as a social gathering. Markets all across the world bring in heaps of people that are locals and also tourists. They are an attraction and attribute to many cities. When visiting New York, I went to Union Square Greenmarket. It was incredible and ever since I look for farmer’s markets wherever I go. They are fun and exciting and force conversation and interaction. All round a great way to create connection with our community, while simultaneously generating business for our residents
Author: Makenzie Brown
Principle: Citizen Centered Development
Michigan State and the Lansing area is seriously lacking entertainment of all sorts and kinds. In the past we had an Amphitheatre and my idea is to bring one back. The new available space on Grand River, East Lansing’s main hub for students and residents, is an ideal location for an Amphitheater to be located. What is really special about this project is that it ties in so many good city principle’s, creating a strong idea for improvement. It connects to community involvement, culture, creativity, and citizen centered development. What more could you ask for?
An Amphitheater is an open air venue for entertainment. The entertainment I had in mind would be performances by local bands and even alumni. Small shows or plays and even orchestras. Creating an Amphitheater that houses maybe 2,000 people max provides local talent with the opportunity to get recognized and appreciated, which is awesome for our community. Not only that, residents can experience and enjoy live entertainment without having to trek to Detroit, for example. Moreover, this is a structure that is visually appealing and would really create a wow factor to MSU’s campus and maybe even something we could be nationally recognized for in the long run. Within a city it is the people that are at the heart of the city. This creation allows the people of our Lansing community to function better and influence our community positively.
Food: Bringing People Together Since the Beginning of Time
Author: Hunter Kulka
Principle: Public Spaces
Public areas are essential to have a cohesive inclusive community. Currently East Lansing has a large divide between the students of Michigan State University and the residents of East Lansing. Part of the reason for this divide is that there is not a location for these two groups to mix and interact with each other. In order to have a more cohesive community we must generate a public area that serves purpose to both groups. Having a more cohesive community serves many benefits to the city so this is something that we should strive to achieve.
Currently the plans at the Park District call for there to be retail space on the first floor of the development. I think that this should be used as a “food court” instead. This type of environment would be excellent for both groups to interact with each other. This could serve multiple purposes; a place of diversity, and a place for productivity. Having a food court would lower the cost for restaurants to open which, this is excellent for diversity as can be seen at the Reading Terminal Market. The city could offer wireless internet for its residents at this place. The large seating area that would be here would make an excellent place for students and families to eat and get work done. Having that place where they interact would greatly improve the cohesiveness of the city.
The Spartan Lifestyle: Go Green
Author: Hunter Kulka
Principle: Go Better Green
Being the home to Michigan State University, Go Green is something that East Lansing hears a lot. However, this “Go Green” isn’t in support of the athletic department at MSU. Instead this represents the need to shift towards renewable energy and the impact that it can have on the community. With the shift in consumer preferences towards electric cars we need to find ways to help charge these cars, and help save the environment. Solar power is becoming more efficient and affordable with the new advancements in technology.
The Park District is a perfect place to help the city Go Green. The Park District is a large development with a lot of unused valuable real estate, the roof. The roof should be fitted with solar panels and wired down to the parking garage and into the power grid. This would allow the parking garage to be outfitted with free charging stations for electric cars, as well as feed any surplus energy into the power grid, lowering the cost of electricity for consumers. With the potential benefits that are present by putting solar panels on the roof, we can’t let this valuable real estate go to waste.
Author: Brendan Carney
Principle: Community Involvement
In most cities, East Lansing to be included, alleyways have the singular use to businesses to be utilized for deliveries and discarding waste. They are considered dark and dreary by most and avoided at all costs. However, the incorporation of street art in alleyways can open these dead spaces up to foot traffic. These spaces should not lie vacant and should be creative, well lite, spaces for artist to flourish. This creates a safer, more comforting area that connects the community to different businesses.
In 1986 the City of Philadelphia Mural and Arts Program was established by Jane Golden, a local artist, as part of an anti-graffiti campaign. The goal of the campaign was to facilitate the collaboration of local artists with prosecuted graffiti vandals to create murals around the city. Each year 50-100 murals are created and restored throughout the community. Community groups educate children in art and involve them in the creation of these murals. These murals are places randomly throughout the city and represent the different people and cultures that represent Philadelphia. It is an easy and affordable improvement to the City that allows artist recognition and helps community member s take pride in their neighborhood. This should be implemented in East Lansing as a way to brighten up dark spaces, educate children, and connect communities via art.
User-generated Urbanism: The Inclusive Approach to City Making
Author: Colin Liang
Principle: Constructing an inclusive community for the city users
The Park District project is located on downtown East Lansing, developers and the government are intended to invest larger amount of money to make the project happen. I happened to come across the director of the department of planning, building, and development at city of East Lansing, Tim Dempsey, in one of my classes. He was lecturing on the government support as a form of tax incentive for the projects that are fit for certain criteria; he mentioned DDA(Downtown Development Authority) is one of the project criteria that would be approved for the Tax Increment Financing; the case study link below shows an overview about the success of DDA in Ann Arbor, a considerably comparable city to East Lansing.
The idea I am proposing is that we should construct and build the Downtown East Lansing with the intention of improving the user friendliness, functionality and accessibility to promote participation of the community. All the city squares we have studied with the success on involving the community have some similar characteristics; they are welcoming and cultural intense, in another word, they all present a strong culture that is inclusive to everyone. I propose that the downtown project should also be a structural change on streetscaping and public amenities; the improvements would provide ease to participate so to stimulate the sense of belonging. Historically, businesses go where people go; commerce should be motivated and built along with the clustering of people. With the incentive that the city of East Lansing given, the project would be financially feasible and the developers should project a desirable rate of return.
Go Green, Make Green
Author: Rumana Uddin
Principle: Environment Greening
The Park District is going to be a space of mixed use. It will probably hold lots of stores and cater towards lots of things for busy people. To make it very “mixed use”, it should be towards something that helps not only humans, but a mix of species. There are animals suffering right now because of the human damage that has been done to this planet. It is not fair that they have to suffer because of the harm that we have done to our homes. Scientists have recently revealed that the harm that many years of harm that have been done to this planet will be irreversible if we do not act now and do something about it. It is fitting that this is a redevelopment project because there is so much redeveloping that needs to be done, locally and globally. There are steps that we can all take.
“Go Green” is something that is not only said-but shouted, very often here in East Lansing. It is time that these words means something more than just school pride or football team spirit at games. This space can have a green roof above all the buzz that is going on inside the building and around the area. It can include a vegetation area that will influence people to eat more locally and eat healthier while taking little steps to protect our environment. Solar panels can be added on the sides and residents nearby can work together to make the area filled with big businesses and cars a little more green.
Bridging the gap between Lansing and East Lansing
Author: Kylie LaBeau
Principle: Community Place
With the idea for the Park District Developments being multi-use buildings, it should also be multi-perspective. The multiple uses should keep everyone surrounding the development in mind. This could be in the form of a community center or even just a weekly tutoring program, where students from Lansing as well as East Lansing come and get help with topics they are struggling with. Another possibility could be a reservable space for things such as meetings, clubs, and so on. It can be used for any range of things, but it can help give people a space to connect individuals.
Creative Additives to Corridors
Author: Aliya Mckethern
Incorporating creative elements into a wide-spread area of vacancy is a key asset to challenging a city’s land use. The Grand River and Abbott Park District has the potential to do just that. Currently, this space is vacant and lacks creative output. This area is an excellent social region, surrounded by bars and dining. However, how do we further develop inclusion in ways that will draw non-residents to the space?
Through creative additives such as event parks and regular art festivals, East Lansing would welcome people out of the city which makes for business opportunities. With the many art students who attend Michigan State University, a common area for art presentation would offer them experience and an opportunity to demonstrate their learned skills to the local area. An event park would also contribute to a good city aspect due to its creation of a sense of belonging and unity in a downtown area. Local musicians can utilize this stage to bring their art to life, all while bringing the city to life and giving local residents, tourists, and others something to do. This improvement idea serves as a form of entertainment for residents and thus generates positive outlooks on the city. During this, artists are given a platform to express their progressive ideas, which makes the development idea all the while more rewarding. Implementing this design improvement idea could be carried out by a committee who is responsible for scheduling and advertising these local events. Doing so would eventually curate an opportunity for residents to have a say in what events they want to see.
Author: Jennifer Padilla
The design idea that I found the most interesting and valuable was the Band Stand that is located by Grand River and Abbot Rd. There are many reasons why I believe that it is valuable and convenient for the community. The Band Stand was designed for the variety of age groups, ethnicities, personalities and multiracial students at MSU to come together and have a place of belonging where they feel home. This place was also designed to celebrate holidays such as Christmas and other multiracial holidays that should also be celebrated in East Lansing.
I think it is important for students to have a place of belonging to avoid feeling left out or feeling homesick. Instead, students should have the ability to feel comfortable within the community in East Lansing to express their beliefs and enjoy their time by sharing a bit of their identity and culture within the community. This also is a great opportunity for students to engage and learn a variety of languages, traditions, and cultures. In a way, it can also benefit students in the networking system by meeting many different people that come from different backgrounds, cities, and countries. This is a place where students shouldn't be ashamed of their beliefs or culture and shouldn't be worried about anybody criticizing them for celebrating their beliefs.
A True Community Space
Author: Aaron Litt
Principle: Community Space
With the current plans for the corner of Grand River and Abbot to have more high rise buildings that will serve as housing options for both students and citizens in East Lansing, I feel as though they could go in a different direction with this. Considering there are already 2 brand new apartment buildings being constructed along Grand River in Landmark and The Hub, this space could very well serve as a more community area, such as a park or even a small square. This is something that East Lansing doesn't particularly have currently, and could definitely benefit from.
This new space could serve as a converging spot for the community, both for Michigan State students and the citizens of East Lansing. A central spot that can hold many different kinds of events, such as big tailgates before football games, different kinds of rallies and demonstrations, celebrations, and wouldn't just be limited to Michigan State events, but also for events held by the nearby East Lansing High School. It is a perfect space to incorporate a new aspect to the city of East Lansing, rather than just adding more high rise apartment complexes, over saturating the area with buildings.
Author: Derrick Hayes
Principle: Community Place
With this area being a five building multiple use area, I believe that a garden walk would work wonders in this area. A garden walk here at Park District could serve as a gathering ground for the community of East Lansing and Michigan State University students. This is important because there are no other areas outside of the campus of Michigan State University where people can come together. This garden walk at Park District can be placed at the top of one of the mixed use buildings and it can be open to anyone who wishes to visit. This project will give people the chance to take in the sights and sounds of the garden walk as well as seeing the amazing sky line view of East Lansing.
Author: Derrick Hayes
Principle: Vacant Wall for Expression/Collaborative Ideas
A community wall open to the public here at Park District could be a wonderful project that can bring together the whole East Lansing community. In one of the mixed use buildings, there can be a whole floor dedicated to members of the community who want to come and express positive messages to one another. Examples of this can be, a local artist who wants to paint something that encapsulates the culture of East Lansing or a Cata bus driver who wants to share something that they love about driving around East Lansing. Any number of positive messages can be shared on those walls by anybody who wishes. With Park District being so close to the campus of Michigan State University students and faculty members may want to come and express positive ideas for the community as well. This floor would have to be monitored so that negative messages will not appear, but this project could really have a positive impact on the community.
Study zones and technology hubs
Author: Derrick Dawson
Principle: Virtual Culture Zone
The Park District Project is a $105 million dollar proposal to replace the long standing brownfield structure on the corner of Abbot Rd and Michigan Ave with two new modern buildings. The first will be an eleven story apartment complex with parking, a rooftop terrace and retail space on the ground floor. The second structure has plans of becoming a ten story Graduate Hotel featuring valet service, retail space and a rooftop restaurant. While all of this is new, flashy, and a capitalists dream, it is lacking a general community space that is free of charge for the main demographic, students, who would be utilizing this space.
Creating a study hub or area for technology, free of charge for its residents and clientele of the businesses inside of these structures would generate an inclusive safe space. Art and technology are ways of visual representation, therefore by including murals and languages throughout the space, perhaps more residents of East Lansing will feel that they are welcome and represented in this new space. Allowing people to gather in a forum to express creativity and unique ideas, meet and mingle, and also celebrate the different cultural groups within the community, contributes to a lively and inviting city.
A Space Should Be More than Just Profit
Author: Katherine Bouma
Principle: Mixed Use
While many of the development plans in this space have been centered around what kind of business can be built to create the most profit, developers fail to see the importance of mixed use. In East Lansing, renters provide 66.5% of the total housing in the town. This high number correlates with the student population of MSU and LCC. While developers seek to put more businesses in developments like Abbott/Grand River development, what EL needs is a broader range of affordable rental properties. While in the downtown area, there are many unaffordable rental options. Including a wider range of pricing options leads to a more diversified area. I propose a different approach to the structuring of typical apartment developments. By creating smaller apartments with less square footage, developers can charge less and have more units. Renters will have the option to spend more on more luxurious, larger apartments or smaller, more affordable apartments by creating this mixed-use development.
Author: Katherine Bouma
Creating a “Cosmopolitan Canopy” in the Grand River/ Abbott area in the form of a marketplace have the potential to bring East Lansing to more progressive town. As of now, developers are vying for the most profitable plan for the space. A marketplace has the potential to bring financial and challenge the divided East Lansing culture. While examples like the Reading Market bring in vast amounts of people from different backgrounds, East Lansing’s community has the potential to do that on a much smaller yet just as diverse scale. A marketplace with vendors from backgrounds as diverse as its residents will create a place for people to explore cultures they may not have been familiar with prior. Examples may be an Asian food vendor selling their unique foods or a smaller scale school supplier for students. The opportunities would be endless for the kinds of vendors that could sell at a local marketplace. These cultural communities can converge and create an inclusive environment for people that never would have considered stepping outside their natural environments.
East Lansing is unique in that it brings together people from backgrounds from all over the world and people from every stage in their lives. From older, more educated professors to foreign exchange students to high schoolers in the area, East Lansing has the potential to bring people together into this “canopy”. As of now, East Lansing is a very divided town. The residents and university do not intermingle due to the barrier of town gown. The area of Grand River and Abbott are conveniently located between the university and the residential areas of East Lansing. By creating a space not meant specifically for a certain group, an inclusive environment may be created. As the Good Practices in Urban Development analysis states, “Basic economics posit that any barrier to participation – physical, technological, cultural or institutional – effects efficient allocation of resources, organization of production, exchanges, consumption, and distribution of benefits.” Not only would the collective marketplace of different backgrounds promote inclusivity, it would be economically beneficial as well. These barriers are very apparent within the East Lansing community. With a marketplace where people can intermingle with those different from their own, barriers can be broken down and a more inclusive, progressive East Lansing can be possible.
Author: Katherine Malhotra
Principle: Community Place
Although Michigan State's campus is filled with lots of foliage and greenery, something that is missing is a community park. For instance, when you are driving/walking down Grand River, it is building after building with no good places to sit outside to eat your food, to socialize, or to come together and have events at. I believe that if there is a small park that people would have picnic tables, benches, and amenities to have events at, it could provide a little bit of green space in between all of the towering buildings.
For example, the Lawn on D in Boston is in the Seaport district which is basically all restaurants, company buildings, or apartments. There's no greenery around, but they placed the Lawn on D in between all of the towering buildings and it allows for everyone around to eat their lunch together, come together and hangout and relax on the abstract designed swings, play fun yard games, or even to see small concerts at. It's good to have a place where you can unwind, relax, and have fun amidst all of the busy noise, buildings, and people.
I think East Lansing would really benefit from this because it will help bring the community together by having the park host endless events, add nature to the strip of buildings, and make everyone from different parts of the community feel welcomed to use this space. I could imagine people grabbing food from a restaurant then walking over to the park to eat it outdoors with their friends, or people coming together on a boring afternoon and to play fun yard games the park has to offer, or going to the park to watch a local band play.
Murals for Parks
Author: Carla Castillo
Principle: Art & Culture Unite
Expressing yourself as an individual can be difficult at times, but there lies a greater difficulty when there is a community attempting to express themselves. How can we change this? Murals! Perhaps murals will not completely change the difficulty of expression, but it will improve the idea unity. Murals such as the one displayed above, can bring an atmosphere of community by enhancing the park’s visual and environmental value. This mural was painted in Weslaco, TX at the Gibson Park. This park used to have a bad reputation due to its unsafe environment. The park was later then adopted by Weslaco High School and has daily beautifications! When this mural was placed, the community of Weslaco gained the sense of community through this mural of art and expression.
My proposal, is that we implement murals within parks and create that sense of community by utilizing culture. There are distinct cultures within society, and it is our duty as a generation to have every culture represented as much as possible.
So, why a park? A park is the perfect place due to the young audience that is present along with family. Parks are created to bring a sense of community by the bonding off adrenaline and swings. Being able to implement community and bringing culture, will help bring awareness. This idea of murals within a park, is beneficial due to the unity and bonds that are being created through art. Art is known to be expressive, and can portray emotions that can lead to unification.
Turning a Street into a Place
Author: Owen Jones
Principle: Place-making: Making Places for People
Despite the occasional sick day that everyone has where you don’t leave your bedroom other than for food and water, it’s hard to think of a day when you don’t interact with a street. Described by the Studio Gang as “the fabric that connects a city” streets play an essential role in its obvious purpose of providing a way for people to get to where they’re going, as well as connecting the community. We can all think back to a time where we were on a street and felt like we did not belong. Whether it was a dull back country road or a desolate pathway in a supposedly urban area, some streets don’t make you feel at home.
With the Park District redevelopment project we have the opportunity to ensure that doesn’t happen in our community. The walkability of a city is a way for it people to connect with that city and the other people in it. Adding a sidewalk or a bigger gathering area with a roof/ canopy can help satisfy that. Additionally local business store fronts and events will ensure that passersby will feel a connection with the street. As always aesthetically pleasing art, furniture, and landscaping will bring more people to the area and make them feel at home. We can see this working in a great way at Campus Martius in Detroit. Right off the street local businesses and events are open to the public to bring a sense of community to residents and tourists.
Author: Mai Vang
Besides the Sparty Market, there are no other places nearby campus that allows students to buy groceries. This can be more convenient to those who cannot drive or have no access to ride the bus outside of campus. This can also give students more other options to shop at and with the difference of prices, students may be able to buy more at a local market than a campus market. Having a market at this location is also beneficial for students who do not live near Sparty Market. A market is also a great way to have the community come together. Students will come together in groups or they can meet their peers at the market. With a lot of other shops nearby, it wouldn’t be difficult for business to grow and it may even benefit shops nearby.
Food & Groove
Author: Carla Castillo
Principle: Culture is Key
Culture is great. It is what ties us all together but it can also be what separates us because of ideas or traditions. One cultural factor that will always unite us-- Food. To understand food, we must first have access to the source. The picture below is an image of Calle 59 in Campeche City, Mexico. The street has various restaurants that unite the people of Campeche. There are also karaoke nights, and diverse foods that the people all share an interest in. Within the Michigan State campus itself, there are so many cultures that contain different styles of food, bringing a little piece of home will always serve the community.
My proposal is implementing greater food businesses within Grand River and on the Michigan State Campus so there will be a community that is unified through taste buds! There is a small alley within Grand River that catches the eye. There are lights hanging down but there is never much people present. I believe if there was a beautification of the alley, it would bring more people to interact with one another. Implementing art within the establishments about the rich culture can be a form a beautifying the environment. I believe this project would be beneficial because it will unite the people through an aspect of culture, food. Everybody needs food to survive, but culture needs the community in order to survive itself.
Author: Katherine Malhotra
Principle: Mixed Use
One thing that I always miss from home is the farmers market that my town would have every Sunday. The market would have local restaurants serve food, residents bring their fresh grown produce, or even people would sell their own home made products. It was a great way to meet up with people in the area and also a way to get out of the house and enjoy your Sunday.
I think that a farmers market would be a very vital improvement to Grand River. If on one day, for example, Sunday, they would close off a parking lot or a little strip of Grand River so residents from the East Lansing area could come and sell or buy products/food, have restaurants from the area sell some of their new dishes, or just to get out and mingle, it would be a win-win for the city. It would provide revenue for local people, and also it will give East Lansing a more welcoming image and vibe. It is something that will have people excited to get out of their beds for on Sunday, and they can even bring a friend along to just check it out. I know it's something I would always go to and I would love if this community would expand its opportunities to something like a farmers market.
Author: Katherine Malhotra
Principle: Culture is Key
A very distinct memory from when I was a senior in high school touring colleges and universities was what unique things made their campus stand out. I remember touring University of Michigan and on campus and even in buildings they had murals on the walls. On certain street corners they had murals and it added vibrancy to the whole street. I learned that students were allowed to paint these murals and that certain classes got to be apart of it as well. They let the students paint these murals as self expression and to get their messages across.
Murals painted by locals or even students help bring and physically show the culture of the town. To have a mural painted on one of the walls of the newly built developments could be a crowd pleasing decision. I know personally whenever I see murals, I always take pictures next to it, of it, or send pictures of it to my friends. If we had a mural that was painted by a local resident or student and it was a mural about Michigan state or east Lansing I think it would really amplify the culture that our city has to offer.
Another cool thing murals can bring is that they can be interactive. For example, there are many murals that are painted with blackboard paint or painted on walls that chalk can be written on. That gives a chance to people who are walking by to be interactive and add something to the art and get people involved and make people want to come by and see the mural. Murals are not only just pleasing to the eye, but can also be pleasing for the community in a subtle way.