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Thursday, December 10,2009

Eye Candy! of the week

by Amanda Harrell-Seyburn

Property: Printer’s Row, St. Joseph Highway and Grand Avenue, Lansing
Owner: Varies
Assessed: Varies
Developer says: The motive for creating Printer's Row was to be an example to Lansing of the type of urban development occurring elsewhere for the past decade.
Architecture critic Amanda Harrell-Seyburn says: Walking along Grand Avenue in the Cherry Hill Neighborhood, you might feel transported to Chicago as you pass the Victorian style Printer's Row townhouses. Printer's Row, built around the historic John Kerr house, is the model development for the next generation of urban design in Lansing and features higher-density, traditional architecture and urbanism that is mixed-use, economically diverse, and walkable.


Printer's Row is an excellent example of how higher density development can be a viable and attractive feature of Lansing's urban landscape. Residents can walk down tree-lined streets, where cars are secondary to pedestrians, and relax on benches at the steps of the Kerr house. Printer’s Row developer Gene Townsend, says, "Lansing can have what other cities have. With a little bit of courage, the excitement that comes with higher density by building on our parking lots, putting people ahead of cars will, in the long run, make us a vibrant and economically successful city."


— Amanda Harrell-Seyburn


A lesson by Amanda Harrell-Seyburn on Infill Development:

One of
the greatest challenges in urban redevelopment is designing in such a
way as to preserve existing community character while adding new
development in the form of infill (land-use within an already built-up
area for additional construction.) Infill development is essential to
quality community development and is a preferable option to sprawl.
Gene Townsend's Printers Row is an excellent example of how thoughtful
infill development can be an asset to the community while respecting
the historic architecture of the surrounding urban landscape.

Successful
infill developments consist of the following elements: mixed-use,
economic diversity, and walkability. Printer's Row embodies these three
significant features that make it a model infill development in Lansing.

First
as a mixed-use development, Printers Row combines residential
townhouses with multi-unit detached housing (for a total of 17 units)
with commercial space available in the Kerr House. The inclusion of
commercial in the Printer's Row development is important to the success
of the development because, "it makes it a safer place to live by
putting eyes on the street from the commercial activity present during
the day when the residents are gone," says Townsend.

Second,
economic diversity is an essential feature of a sustainable community.
Printer's Row has a variety of housing types available. These housing
types include more expensive townhouses located on Grand with less
expensive townhouses set behind and a variety of unit sizes in the
detached residences to accommodate a range of income among its
residents.

Thirdly, walkability is a integral feature of a
successful infill development. Walkability is paramount at Printer's
Row. Close proximity to the Lansing's urban core including Washington
Square, the Stadium District, and the Capitol are but a few of the
amenities within walking distance of Printer's Row.

Also,
design features at Printer's Row favor the pedestrian over the car.
"Walkways that cross the streets and are designed with materials such
as brick to accentuate the pedestrians' priority over the car," says
Townsend. 

Community
centers or plazas are an essential feature of a walkable
neighborhood. Printer's Row features a center for community gathering
or "the heart" of as referred to by Townsend is the Kerr House located
on a public square. It is place where residents can gather in an
outdoor space to relax. Townsend says the "1854 Kerr house is the icon
for
the project. It fixes an image of place for the residents moving to new
city developments such as Printer's Row." 

In
addition, a walkable community is dependent on higher density. People
often associate, particularly in the Lansing community, higher
density with unattractive high-rise or endless rows of similar looking
residential structures lacking any character. Printer's Row is a higher
density mixed-use development that is aesthetically pleasing.

DO: Always choose infill development over greenfield projects when considering new construction in a community.

DON'T:
Create an infill development without consideration for its urban
context. Successful developments reference the architecture and
character of the surrounding urbanism in their design.


“Eye candy of the Week" is our weekly look at some of the nicer properties in Lansing. It rotates each with Eyesore of the Week. If you have a suggestion, please e-mail eye@lansingcitypulse.com or call Neal McNamara at 371-5600 ex. 17.

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