Former Knapp's Department Store Building to be Redeveloped

By: Jennifer Dowling Email
By: Jennifer Dowling Email

The Knapp's building has been a staple in Lansing's downtown since 1937 when it first opened as a department store. Nancy Finegood is the Executive Director for the Michigan Historical Preservation Network. She says, "If you talk to people who've lived here forever, it was a part of their community. It was important to their entire community."

Now the Eyde Company says it has big plans for the Lansing Landmark. The company plans to transform it back to its original art deco glory on the outside with new purposes within. Project Architect Lis Knibbe says, "It's going to look like an historic building on the outside. It will look a lot like it did in the old photographs that you see...and on the inside, it's going to look very contemporary."

The first floor will contain retail or restaurant space with office space planned on floors two through four. The fifth floor will be constructed into lofts. Knibbe says, "They have a top floor that works very well for residential." All of the residential areas would have their own balcony on the roof which would overlook the downtown. Knibbe says, "There are very few buildings like this in the country."

The revitalized Knapp's Centre will also contain the city's first business incubator. That would provide a nurturing environment where start-up businesses could grow and prosper.

The city helped to find the tax credits to make the reconstruction happen. Project Developer Nick Eyde says, "Those are the main incentives I think that make this project work, the federal programs and the state and federal historic tax credits and also new market tax credits." The mayor's office says the project depends on the following incentives from state and local partners: Renaissance Zone, Federal Housing and Urban Development Authority (HUD) Section 108 Loan, Brownfields Economic Development Initiative (BEDI), Local and state historic tax credits and Federal New Market Tax Credits.

Mayor Virg Bernero says, "This is big. This is big. It's a wonderful, wonderful project. This is sort of the 2nd shoe to the Board of Water and Light Accident Fund development on the riverfront. This is sort of the next big thing."

Construction should begin in 2011. Nick Eyde says if all goes well, the project should be completed by spring 2013 at the latest. The Eyde Company announced that once the building is finished, it will move its headquarters there.


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