Redevelopment to Bring New Housing, Commercial Space to Old Town

By: Anthony Sabella Email
By: Anthony Sabella Email

Not long after finishing a restoration of the historic Walker Building in Lansing's Old Town, last year, Sam Saboury and the East Lansing-based SMTS Real Estate Group set their sights just down the block.

"This building was built in 1910 and it's an old building we were thinking to utilize," said Saboury.

The Washington Avenue property includes includes three vacant buildings and sits at the southern entrance into Old Town. Wednesday, Saboury officially announced a $3 million redevelopment of the property, along with Mayor Virg Bernero and several of the projects' supporters.

The project will include redeveloping the historic building, while demolishing two newer structures also on the property, for an addition. The result will be more than 5,000 square feet of retail space and 24 low-income apartments occupying the upper floors.

Louise Gradwohl, Executive Director of the Old Town Commercial Association, says the development is a perfect response to an overwhelming demand for housing in the neighborhood.

"To be able to bring that many people down here...I can't tell you how many people call me every day, wanting to be a part of this neighborhood," said Gradwohl. "It's a huge investment for us."

Mayor Bernero agrees, especially when it comes to attracting a younger crowd to the city.

"You look at how income levels are changing, a lot of young people just starting out. A lot of jobs aren't paying what they used to pay," said the Mayor.

That's why Saboury is certain the apartments will fill up quickly. As for the retail space...

"Actually, some people have showed a lot of interest, some of the neighbors," he said. "They are interested in 4,000 square feet."

Saboury hopes to break ground on the redevelopment in four to six weeks and have it complete by this time, next year.

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