From a business perspective, it looks like it’s going to be a building year in Metro Lansing. The biggest projects are the mixed-use development construction projects, including SkyVue on Michigan and East Town Flats on Lansing’s east side and East Lansing’s Stonehouse Village VI and the long-delayed third phase of the West Village project. These developments will eventually be home to a number of new retail businesses. But plans have also been revealed for several smaller projects around town, as well as some expansions and moves.
These are some of the projects New in Town will be following this year:
Two mixed-use developments that are already complete are continuing to attract ground-floor businesses. Trowbridge Lofts, which welcomed Iorio’s Gelato & Caffé last fall, is prepping for “at least two” restaurants to move in to the 8,000-square-foot space next door sometime this spring or summer.
“I’m looking for unique, higher-end (tenants),” said Kevin McGraw, president of River Caddis Development, the developer behind Trowbridge Lofts. “We’re being very selective.”
Meanwhile, Capital City Homebrew Supply is heading west to downtown. By Thursday, it expects to vacate its eastside home in the 2000 block of Michigan Avenue and set up shop 14 blocks away at 623 E. Michigan, across the street from the Stadium District building. The old site is going to be part of East Town Flats, the four-story retail and apartment complex Scott Gillespie is planning.
“He’s a good tenant and I’m sorry to lose him, but (the building he’s in) is way past repair,” Scott Gillespie said. “And I think he’s going to be in a much better location now, near the Beer Grotto, Lansing Brewing Co. and American Fifth (Spirits). It’s going to make for a nice little district down there.”
Downtown East Lansing is getting a couple of new locations for thriving local franchises, both of which are replacing outgoing watering holes. Stateside Deli & Pub, which morphed from a lunch spot to a full-service bar, is leaving, and that space will be transformed into the fifth Tin Can location by spring. And down the block, the former Woody’s Oasis, which closed unexpectedly last July, will become the third Lou & Harry’s location later this year. (Two other locations have closed in the last five years).
The Lansing-based Central Pharmacy mini-chain is set to open at least two more stores in the area, one in west Lansing and one on the south side. That will bring the total number to seven locations: two in Lansing as well as stores in Flint, Owosso, Perry, Laingsburg and Haslett.
“It just goes to show, people will choose a local store over a (chain) if they have the option,” said Michael Salquist, the pharmacist who opened the first Central Pharmacy location in 2013 on the corner of Mt. Hope and Pennsylvania avenues.
Near Frandor, the Potent Potables Project restaurant group recently broke ground on its fifth concept: Punk Taco, a Mexican restaurant/carry-out eatery specializing in “the three T’s”: tacos, tamales and tequila.
“One part will be dedicated to sit-down dining and another part dedicated to carryout orders,” said Sam Short, who co-owns Potent Potables with his partners Aaron Matthews and Alan Hooper. “And we’ll have coolers stocked with craft beer ready to go, so you can grab a six-pack while you’re in line. It’s going to make a lot of people happy.”
Work is underway on Bridge Street Social, a DeWitt bistro specializing in upscale cuisine, creative cocktails and an extensive wine list. The co-owners are Justin King, a certified sommelier, and Michael Luther, owner of Red Cedar Grill in Williamston. Just don’t call Bridge Street Social a wine bar.
“I’m not about fetishizing obscure wine,” said King, who also writes City Pulse’s Uncorked column. “I always try to find comedy in it. I think people are tired of this too-precious nature when approaching wine. Mike and I are focused on creating a fun, engaging food-and-drink experience. That’s all.”
After nearly three years of discussions, delays, a lengthy construction process and even more delays, it appears East Lansing will finally get its Whole Foods store in 2016. And two Chick-fil-A locations are coming to Metro Lansing this year: one by the Lansing Mall —taking over the old digs of Fazoli’s — and one across from Meridian Mall. The company has taken a public relations beating for its stance on gay rights issues, but COO Dan Cathy has publicly changed his tune. He told one newspaper in his home state of Georgia that he’s started working with a nonprofit that supports gay causes and has "dramatically" cut donations to groups that are considered anti-gay by watchdog groups.
Later this month, Retail Therapy, the Okemosbased women’s clothier, will move to Old Town. The 4-year-old business specializes in fashion items handpicked by owner/operator Celeste Saltzman, who travels to shows around the country to find clothes and accessories. Since 2012, Retail Therapy had been situated in a strip mall across from the Meridian Mall. This Old Town move will put it closer to similarminded businesses such as Grace Boutique, October Moon, and Curvaceous Lingerie.
Also in Old Town, the father-and-son team of Dan and Kyle Malone will open Ozone’s Brewhouse inside a former warehouse this summer. And the former Mustang Bar will soon become UrbanBeat, a performance venue and event space.
Finally, the 1600 block of Kalamazoo Street will be getting a massive overhaul this year, as Sleepwalker Spirits & Ale expands from its home inside the Allen Market Place into its own taproom and Okemosbased dance studio Happendance opens a satellite location on that block.
And those are just the things we know about going into 2016. Check back here for the latest developments on these, as well as the dozens of other projects that have yet to bubble up to the surface.