March 18 2013 12:00 AM

A Lansing couple seeks to open a video production studio in a south side neighborhood

Wednesday, April 6 — Lisa and Russell Davis have been producing short films and music videos for years, but never had a permanent studio to call home.

But the lifelong Lansing residents want to change that by rehabbing an eyesore in a south Lansing neighborhood to open Ridgewood Studio.

“My husband saw the building and saw potential. It was in very bad shape, but we have a vision,” Lisa Davis said.

Along with the studio, the Davises plan to operate a small jewelry store and perhaps a coffee shop in the 1,200 square-foot building at 655 Ridgewood Ave. That, however, requires the Davises to apply for a property rezoning from its residential status to “E-2” local shopping district. The Planning Board unanimously recommended approval of the rezoning at its Feb. 8 meeting, but five neighbors spoke in opposition.

All five had concerns that the new activity would either generate too much traffic in a neighborhood filled with children or that future tenants would use the E-2 zoning for other purposes, such as a liquor store or a medical marijuana dispensary.

As a compromise, the zoning application prohibits 11 types of businesses from operating, including liquor stores, dispensaries and drive-through businesses. Even if the rezoning application isn’t approved by the City Council — it was introduced Monday and sits in the Development and Planning Committee — Davis said the studio would still operate, just not the retail portion.

“I would hate to think it would bring so much business that it would be dangerous for the children,” Davis said. “I’m aware of children; we have enough.”

Davis said the couple bought the building for $6,000 and has spent “quite a bit more” than that on renovations.

The property, which is five blocks north of Cavanaugh Road between Cedar Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, was built in 1942 and has been vacant since it sustained a fire in 2009. The building was last used as an upholstery business. Past tenants included a Quality Dairy and a meat market.

Davis, 50, said the metal walk-in freezer door is still in tact and will be preserved.

“We’re finding out it’s (the building) got a lot of character,” she said. “It’s a unique little building. It has a story to tell.”

Davis, who works full time at Michigan State University as a building service worker, said the Christian-based films and videos are for broadcasting on GNS-TV (Good News Station), Ch. 19, in greater Lansing. Her husband has a degree in telecommunications, she said.

“He just really wanted to have a studio one day,” she said.