March 2 2016 11:48 AM

Proposed Substation — Malcolm X and South Washington, Lansing

Property: Proposed Substation — Malcolm X and South Washington, Lansing

This proposed project of the Board of Water and Light provides an unusual opportunity to protest a future Eyesore, perhaps affecting its appearance for the better. The proposal aims to demolish or move the century-old Scott House, located at a critical urban intersection, and replace it with an industrial substation. Admittedly, the house is not particularly noteworthy. However, the adjacent gardens, which are to be relocated on the site, are truly lovely.

Preservation-minded individuals frequently consider the question of what is suitable for saving and what is expendable. The keynote speaker at a recent statewide preservation conference proposed this novel resolution: Rather than establishing history-based districts, within which everything was essentially untouchable, we accept that every built resource has its own merit. Then, one could only proceed in removing a building if its replacement is objectively better than what currently exists. Failing that, the replacement would not be permitted. In this way, important cultural landmarks, such as the State Capitol building, would be difficult, if not impossible, to replace. And less significant resources would be judged against the value of their proposed replacements.

Clearly, the 50-foot-high skeletal steel structure pictured above and the power lines to which it would connect or the citadel-like barriers portrayed in the BWL’s renderings that would only hide the bottom 20 feet (available to view at are not an improvement on the existing site, its striking gardens or even the humble Scott House.

“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 Berl Schwartz at 999-5061.