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Wednesday, June 4,2014

Bye bye, Biggby?

by BECKY McKENDRY
The wrecking ball is looming over Biggby Coffee’s historic first location at 270 W. Grand River Ave. in East Lansing.

Under the proposed Gateway Project, developers led by DTN Management Co. plan to demolish the Biggby location and erect a six-story mixed-use building, primarily for apartments.

If the project goes through, the area’s atmosphere will be disrupted too much, said East Lansing Councilmember Ruth Beier, who serves as the Council Liaison to the city’s Historic District Commission.

“That mid-century modern look defines that area,” she said. “I love it.”

Beier said she’d love to keep the Biggby building standing, which was built in the 1950s and once served as an Arby’s restaurant and a bus station. But she doesn’t know if there is enough push to get the building deemed a landmark.

“That current building is old enough that it could qualify as a historic building,” she said. “But it’s a tough one. It’s right on the edge of historic and not. It’s certainly nostalgic, though.”

Opened in March 1995, the 24-hour coffee shop was the first venture of Biggby co-founders Bob Fish and Mary Roszel. At that time, the store was known as Beaner’s, but Fish changed the name to Biggby in 2007, after people raised concerns that the name was also a racial remark about Mexican-Americans.

If the development goes through, the oldest Biggby location will be the one on Ottawa Street in downtown Lansing. That location was opened in 1997.

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