Ranney Building Restoration Comes Amid Downtown Growth

By: Tony Tagliavia
By: Tony Tagliavia

"The building was designed with no furnace," historian Bob Morris told those gathered for a tour of the 115-year-old Ranney Building, at 208 S. Washington Square in downtown Lansing.

No furnace -- but lots of character.

"One of the fireplaces mantles does remain," Morris noted. "Notice the elaborate oak staircase."

Built in 1891, it was originally an office for its current namesake, Dr. George Ranney.

Many original floors, light fixtures, fireplaces and windows remain. They're on their way to being restored. Complete with modern amenities, like furnaces.

"And these would all be little office spaces," Green said walking down a hallway in the three-story building.

The head of a Lansing business group says the Ranney building is a small part of a larger trend. In fact, if you walk next door, you'll see another building: Lofts for rent.

"A much overdue renovation of Downtown Lansing," Principal Shopping District Executive Director Kevin Green said.

Joining in the renovation trend is the old Mutual Building on North Capitol -- offices are planned there. New residential space is popping up in old buildings as well. Green says there are 100 lofts in the area -- and the number continues to grow.

"People want to be back downtown ... We're seeing these entire groups returning to the city core," he said.

Among the projects trying to bring residents back to the core: Arbaugh Lofts, Motorwheel Lofts and the Stadium District. There are other, lesser-known projects too, like a plan to bring lofts to the Capitol Pharmacy building at Washington and Michigan avenues.

But like the Ranney building, some of the projects set to bring lofts to downtown Lansing have a few scratches to be buffed out.

"Watch the floor level when you get all the way to the top," Morris warned those on the tour.

Developers hope to announce a tenant shortly and have the building ready in roughly six months.


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