The renovations to the former Michigan School for the Blind, overseen by Indianapolis-based TWG Development, are halfway done.
Walnut Park Apartments opened in early November with 72 new units built from the ground up. The company plans on restoring the Michigan School for the Blind’s main building with 60 senior apartments within a year. The project will cost an estimated $24 million by the time its 100 percent complete.
Property manager Trish Croskey said as soon as Walnut Park broke ground, she wanted to work there.
“I moved to Lansing in the early ‘80s. I went to LCC and I lived in this end of town. It was all homeowners and the School for the Blind was still active at that time,” she said. “When the school went down, this whole area of activity was gone.”
What came next, happens in any city where sprawling complexes are left abandoned, she said. “The crime levels go up, and pretty soon nobody wanted to go to the north end.”
Walnut Park will be a step in the area’s revitalization, she added. The apartment also will host a brand new Lansing Police Department substation.
“When I did get the job, I saw an opportunity for low income and affordable housing to be something to be proud of. There are a lot of slumlords in our town that take low income, section eight and everyone gets stereotyped.”
Operating on the federal Rental Housing Tax Credit Program, Walnut Park has a sliding scale rate based on qualifications. On its website, prices range from $350 to $450 a month for one to three bedroom apartments.
Apartment facilities include a gym, business room and a community room with a flat screen TV, couches and foosball.
“We’ve got stories here of people coming off the streets, people who have been homeless for a year that now have their own apartment because it is affordable,” Croskey said.
Though working 12-hour days and some weekends, the work is worth it to see families get off the street, Croskey said.
“It brings me much joy. When I saw this property being built, all of the pieces fell in for me to now be here and make a difference in people’s lives,” she said.
Though all 72 apartments are spoken for with pending application approvals, Croskey said to check back after the new year if interested in availabilities.
For more information on TWG Development and the Michigan School for the Blind, visit www.twgdev.com/properties/abigail-senior-apartments