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Lansing looks to revitalize Saginaw Street

Posted at 9:39 AM, Nov 20, 2019

LANSING, Mich. — Drive into Lansing from Delta Township on Saginaw Street and you'll see too many vacant buildings and not a lot of bustle, but the city is working to fix that corridor.

There wasn't much foot traffic on Saginaw Avenue Tuesday, but the city says that's soon going to change. There's a plan in place to bring more businesses to the area, and one owner, who's been there for decades, is glad to hear it.

"People tend to think of this area as an area they just drive through to get somewhere else," Paul Rathbun, president of Rathbun Insurance, said.

There is blight, boarded up shops and vacant buildings.

"Nobody wants to be in a community where there is vacant buildings, or the buildings don't look like they're taken care of," Rathbun said.

There are just a few staple businesses standing strong like Park Furniture and Rathbun Insurance, which has been in business on Saginaw for 50 years.

"Over the 50 years the main improvements have been going from four lanes to three lanes and putting a bike lane in has helped a lot. That has made it so people don't race through as much," Rathbun said.

Now, Lansing is looking to make more improvements with plans to redevelop commercial properties, create jobs and eliminate blight.

"I think that's great. I think when you have a community in there it makes a difference what facades look like and how different businesses look. Some of those small grants aren't going to make a difference. They're going to need to get more aggressive and help people apply for money to rehab entire buildings," Rathbun said.

Funding will come from the Saginaw Corridor Improvement Authority. Rathbun said his company has already taken advantage grants from the authority.

"There's been a handful of businesses that have taken advantage of the facade improvements and they've been long-term businesses so that part of it has been good. We just need more of that. There's a lot of buildings that have been vacant for 40 or 50 years and it just takes somebody with a vision to say we're going to invest in that," Rathbun said.

Lansing is also working to improve the Michigan Avenue Corridor from roughly Larch Street east to Frandor.

The city said the improvements will not raise property taxes or create any new taxes.

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