A leviathan of a building, this former manufacturing stronghold at X has an outsized history as well.
“It’s been a manufacturing facility for a hundred years,” said Brent Forsberg, president of T.A. Forsberg Inc., a real estate firm and member of the Lansing business collaboration Urban Systems.
“It got the name ‘the Wing’ because during World War II parts of Consolidated B-24 Liberators’ wings were worked on and tested there,” Forsberg explained.
“You can feel that energy when you come into this building. It’s awesome inside.”
Urban Systems is a conglomerate of heavy hitters, combining T.A. Forsberg Inc., Dymaxion Development and WestPac Investments into a development force that hopes to establish Lansing as a premier Midwest city.
If successful, the Wing will be a mighty flagship for their endeavor.
Jeff Deehan, CEO of Dymaxion Development, said they are looking to house local and national tenants.
“We’ve got somewhere between 70 and 150 apartments we will put in that building. We have some really cool tenants, the coolest of which — I can’t talk about.”
The ones he can reveal have the power to affect Lansing’s economy.
“We have someone in our network that is manufacturing parts for Tesla cars, and they want to do business in Lansing,” said Deehan. “The guy is an MSU grad, owns a huge international business and wants to start a facility here.”
Investing in the Wing will act as a launch pad for their company in Lansing, Deehan said.
“They are using our facility as a lily pad, like, ‘Hey we’ll come in and start doing stuff here.’ The end goal is for them to produce and distribute while being in that space here.”
Another tenant is a Silicon Valley animation company, said Deehan.
“They are a full-on media company that works with a bunch of different intellectual properties, such as Jim Henson and Warner Bros. stuff,” said Deehan. “Their company is worth over a billion.”
Moving to Michigan will be a refreshing change for these tenants, said Deehan.
“They like Michigan, because the cost of living is good and the space is cool. You go around Silicon Valley now and people are working in boring strip malls,” said Deehan.
Deehan said he has been actively looking at the warehouse for the last decade, wondering what it could become. Aside from international companies, the Wing looks to invigorate Greater Lansing artists and entrepreneurs as well.
Urban Systems’ main effort is to revamp the warehouse into an all purpose artistic, commercial, manufacturing and residential powerhouse, said Deehan. This approach has worked before. “We modeled this after the Bindery Annex in Portland,” said Deehan.
“You will walk down these big common area hallways and see landscaping and benches, but also fork lifts and guys driving with their truck filled with barrels of beer,” said Deehan. “There is a lawyers office, a brewery, a sock factory, a microphone factory and a guy making pottery. It is a really off the wall mix of different things.”
Artist Andy Drier of Enden Arts studio is a tenant at the warehouse.
“What I hope to see is a vibrant micro city, a city under a roof type thing. It can be another borough of Lansing,” said Drier. “There is a lot of potential, especially with renting out various spaces and keeping the artist vibe alive here,” said Drier.
Drier said the Wing will give Lansing a step up regionally.
“It can help highlight all the cool things that are going on here, and bring more people to the city. It can be a place for the people that are here to showcase themselves.”
The manufacturing past that gives the Wing its potential also provides the biggest hurdle to its redevelopment. Taking the Wing to the next phase will require a brownfield redevelopment, said Forsberg.
According to the EPA, “A brownfield is a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.”
The solvents used in manufacturing are present in the ground, said Forsberg. Urban Systems plans to take their brownfield case to the city in late August or early September.