March 26 2014 12:00 AM

Property: 811 E. Mount Hope Ave., Lansing

Owner: Ronald and Deborah Onderko

Assessed value: $34,000

Owner says:
Could not be reached for comment

Architecture critic Daniel E. Bollman says: In case passersby are uncertain of the function of this utilitarian building, the operators have thoughtfully stapled a cardboard “car wash” sign to a utility pole near the street. Unfortunately, the building’s functionality is reduced, owing to the installation of orange construction fencing across the wash bays, thereby preventing anyone from actually driving through this drive-thru facility. However, this building does offer a valuable function beyond the services provided as a car wash. The light industrial character of the site and building establish a welcome, transitional buffer between nearby homes and the adjoining railroad tracks. In addition, the building is constructed with durable materials at an appropriately small scale, in keeping with the adjacent neighborhood’s buildings. Despite this, the structure is not a particularly good fit. When a commercial enterprise operates within a residential neighborhood and its goods or services benefit nearby residents, those residents often provide a critical mass of customers. By definition, this building is intended for motorized vehicular traffic, with little direct advantage to the immediate residents. Converting the building to a different use will be extremely difficult, if not impossible. Until the site is fully redeveloped, the neighborhood will be left with this white elephant.

Indeed, the former Happy Car Wash could use a bath itself. An aura of abandonment surrounds the property in the form of McDonald’s wrappers and cigarette butts. The building is starting to fall apart like the tattered car seat that rests behind it. In one of the stalls a large aluminum panel of the ceiling is hanging down, mimicking a cheaply done garage door.

“Eyesore of the Week” is our look at some of the seedier properties in Lansing. It rotates each week with Eye Candy of the Week. If you have a suggestion, please e-mail or call Andy Balaskovitz at 999-5064.