Virginia Ave. Progress

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The houses along Virginia Ave. are being demolished for what the city sees as a greater goal.

Simply, "We're promoting housing for families in the city of East Lansing," says planning director Jim van Ravensway.

He's talking about a 32-family development to help bring young professionals to the area and kids to the shrinking school district. It will be built by Mayberry Homes on the 600 block of the street near downtown.

"We picked Virginia [Ave.] because of the high percentage of rentals, increasing percentage of vacancies," van Ravensway says.

When East Lansing started buying these houses last spring, just four of the 24 homes were actually occupied by their owners.

Today, 13 deals are done. 11 are mid-negotiation.

"We've very optimistic that in the end, everybody's going to participate," says van Ravensway.

The homeowners who've yet to settle declined to talk with us on camera because of those ongoing negotiations. They say though, this whole thing has been very frustrating. They hate to see Virginia Avenue change. They hate to leave it behind.

Preliminary plans for the Mayberry Homes development do make room for anyone who chooses not to sell.

Around them, they plan for townhomes, and single families houses in a older, urban style with porches out front, and garages around the back.

Groundbreaking is set for spring.