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The Allen Neighborhood Center in Lansing is expanding

Allen Place
Posted at 6:31 PM, Mar 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-25 21:40:44-04

LANSING, Mich. — The Allen Neighborhood Center is expanding.

“About two years ago, a year and a half ago we had the opportunity to purchase the complex in which we’ve been located for 21 years," said said Joan Nelson, the center's executive director.

They promptly partnered with Cinnaire, a non-profit housing developer headquartered in REO Town, on a $10.9 million dollar project called Allen Place.

The project will converting the center's building in the 1600 block of East Kalamazoo Street. It will add a new three-story addition to the west end of the building and 21 mixed-income apartments. In all, it will have 21,000 square feet of commercial space, several food and health entities including a new Ingham Health Centers Clinic.

Allen Place

Nelson says surrounding communities have challenges with access to healthcare and food, which Allen's programs help to address.

“A lot of families and individuals struggle in this neighborhood," Nelson said. "We are at a 25 percent poverty rate. About 60 percent of households are at or below 80 percent of average median income."

The center's signature programs include their farmers market, the Hunter Park GarderHouse, and an accelerator and incubator kitchen program.

“The incubator kitchen has been around since 2014 and provides affordable kitchen rental and storage rental and lots of business development support for entry-level food entrepreneurs,” Nelson said.

The accelerator kitchen just opened and has four tenants including Jose Aste, the owner of Tantay.

“It’s special because it doesn’t exist around here at least in central Michigan. We’re the second Peruvian restaurant in the whole state of Michigan,” Aste said.

Jose Aste and his family

Aste is a husband and father of two kids. He started his business in 2019 and says his parents inspired him to start cooking.

He is enjoying being able to cook out of the accelerator kitchen.

“I think it’s going to be really cool I think it’s going to be a neat place to live in. That east side neighborhood….I‘ve learned more about it and I love being there. I’ve been there for almost a year and a half almost every single day in that kitchen. So, I’m feeling really excited about it,” Aste said.

His ultimate goal is to bring people together and he hopes he can do it with his food.

Peruvian dish

“Lead up to a spot where I can just provide an atmosphere like that and the accelerator is that steppingstone right before that because now, we can scale up, we can put tables outside,” Aste said.

Another interesting thing about the Allen Place project is that they have partnered with Lansing Board Water and Light to create a microgrid on site.

“We’re really hoping that we can serve as a research site for the board to test emerging technology and energy efficiency,” Nelson said.

She says they also plan to add a solar courtyard. Which will be the new home of the farmers market.

The project is scheduled to be finished by fall. Nelson said they hope the project will inspire other similar developments in the area.

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Erica Murphy

Erica Murphy

1:21 PM, Mar 03, 2021

Your Neighborhood Reporter

Erica Murphy