March 18 2010 12:00 AM

Property: 200 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Lansing
Owner: Jonathan and Leola Watts
Taxpayer: Jonathan and Leola Watts
Assessed: $26,500
Owner says: Unable to be reached for comment
Architecture critic Amanda Harrell-Seyburn says: This vacant building remains a significant blight on the Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard corridor. "Location is everything" rings particularly true for commercial buildings, and this buildings location may have had a direct hand in its demise. The former shop is most likely the victim of low visibility and the shrinking population of the adjacent neighborhood. Future commercial viability along MLK is dependent on significant infill construction of well-designed residential and commercial urban buildings along the corridor as well as within the neighborhood. To learn more from Harrell-Seyburn, see this story at

The empty, brown-paneled building at 200 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., at Allegan Street, has a sign that says “S & L Produce.” But with the addition of a “no trespassing” sign, its commercial purpose has clearly died.

Marked with graffiti and a boarded-up door and window, the building is surrounded by an overgrown lawn full of debris and an unsightly chain link fence. The building is crammed between residential homes and it does not fit into the neighborhood.

A lesson on the neighborhood corner store by Harrell-Seyburn:

Corner stores are an essential feature of a walkable neighborhood. Corner stores are dependent on density (related to pedestrian traffic) and vehicular traffic. Pedestrian traffic is directly related to neighborhood walkability and proximity to a neighborhood corner store. The average resident is willing to walk 1/4 mile radius or 1,320 feet, the distance of a five minute walk at a leisurely pace to a neighborhood corner store.

Urban retail expert Bob Gibbs argues that corner stores needs approximately 1,000 households within walking distance, but if a corner store is located on a major road (such as MLK Boulevard) with a minimum of 15,000 cars per day, then its requires less than 1,000 households in the neighborhood to support it.

Therefore the greatest challenge for the neighborhood corner store is if there are less than 1,000 households within the 1/4 miles radius of the neighborhood store then it can no longer be supported by the neighborhood itself and requires patrons from the greater metro area to survive.

Frequent your neighborhood corner stores. If you do not support them then they will not exist.

“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 Neal McNamara at 371- 5600 ex. 17.