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Renovations underway for old train station in Lansing

Old Lansing Train Station
Posted at 11:50 AM, Aug 23, 2022

LANSING, Mich. — A lot of work has been done to revitalize the old Lansing train station that sits at 637 east Michigan Ave.

You maybe remember it was once the home to Clara's Restaurant and has been vacant since 2016.

With all the redevelopment work, it's new tenant, Starbucks, could be ready to serve you by mid to late September.

"A lot of work has been done in the last nine to 10 months. And really, it started three, four years ago of several different concepts test, seeing what we felt could make it work here," said Jason Kildea, director of facilities and project management for the Gillespie Group.

He says the company bought the property after Clara's had closed in 2016.

"We had so much interest in developing the Michigan Avenue corridor with our staples kind of around the Stadium District and building and expanding the Stadium District a little bit past large street here to the east. So we felt as a key acquisition to continue our, our development of the Stadium District," Kildea said.

Ashley Brzezinski is the director of marking for the Gillespie Group. She says they wanted to acquire the property and honor the history like they did with the Armory on Marshall Street.

"We saw this building, we saw that same opportunity to preserve and keep that history and keep that story. And also update it and make it brand new, where the story could be told for many years to come," Brzezinski said.

Starbucks has already claimed part of the historic building as its own.

In an email to FOX 47, a spokesperson says it will be a Starbucks community store and will focus on local hiring and partnerships with local nonprofits.

Last fall after all the plans were together, Kildea says they started on the site work.

"It has all new electrical, new plumbing, all the mechanicals through the building, new storm sewers. And then of course, we renovated the inside of the building to accommodate Starbucks, and the work they're going to do to build out their space," Kildea said.

It included shoring up walls that were starting to deteriorate because of the building being more than 100 years old.

"Back in the late 1800s, early 1900s, that today just wouldn't make sense. And vice versa, some of the stuff they did, we could never replicate today, because the cost to do it would be so astronomical. So always complications, there's always unexpected things you come across, but in the end, the efforts always worth it," Kildea said.

They also put in a new drive through window and drive-thru lane for Starbucks and have repaved the parking lot.

But if you take a closer look in some areas, you can still see history in the ground.

"It's actually quite interesting in the parking lot underneath it has the original brick pavers that were installed. Sometime, you know, after the early 1900s," Kildea said. "When we peeled all that back, we found all these cool old, unique brick pavers out of Saginaw and Detroit brick companies."

To date $3.6 million has been put in for this project, and then $1.2 million will be put in at completion of the project.

The company is working with another tenant with a restaurant concept that would also incorporate the infamous train car into it's plans if the deal is locked in.

"We're trying to put the finishing touches on a lease, get their build out plans going and then, you know, hopefully be able to activate their space sometime in the first quarter early second quarter of the next year," Kildea said.

Brzinski says this is important to the community because of the history it carries both in the train station and the restaurant.

"Memories of coming here for a Sunday brunch or coming here for a birthday party or wedding reception. So for us keeping that history was really important to where we've had all that memories, and we'll be pleased with that, but also be able to create new memories and in the future,"Brzezinski said.

Throughout the project, Brzezinski says they have taken in the opinions of the committee to keep the history of this building alive.

"We did a lot to make sure that this building would make another 100 years. It wasn't something we just made look nice. We definitely invested the money to keep this building here for longer term. So we have those memories from 100 years you know back, and then we'll keep them for 100 more years, at least is the is the expectation," Brzezinski said.

She says they are hoping to have the project complete and the space occupied by next year.

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Tianna Jenkins

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