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Wednesday, October 6,2010

Eyesore of the week

1245 N. Larch Street, Lansing

by Amanda Harrell-Seyburn

Property: 1245 N. Larch Street, Lansing Owner: William Vandomelen Assessed: $93,700 Owner says: Could not be reached for comment


It’s
hard to believe that the mess of peeling primary colors and weedy
pavement at 1245 N. Larch St. in Lansing used to be a bustling fast
food restaurant.


The
drive-thru window is boarded up, the window on the Liberty Street side
of the building is busted and its awning has been ripped through.
Underneath the drive-thru canopy, the pavement is littered with broken
glass shards. Part of the building looks as if it has been torn off by
King Kong or Godzilla, attached to the building by an electrical wire.
And the front of the building displays a spray painted message, “Great
Job Govrnar.”


— Meghan Spork


Architecture critic Amanda Harrell-Seyburn says: Original Hot ‘n Now buildings are becoming an incredibly rare find. Although most have been torn down, a shuttered one located at the corner of Larch and Liberty streets seems to have escaped demolition, patiently waiting for someone to do something with it. Hot ‘n Now buildings are distinctive and, like this early one, featured a drive-thru design that was perfect for its original use but has proven to be challenging for reuse. Adaptive reuse is always the most sustainable option. Rather than seeing this building torn down, like so many others, it would be really exciting if an innovative entrepreneur would do something with it.


The exclusively drive-thru concept was a great idea for burger joints in the 1980s. As communities became more and more car-centric, a place that offered inexpensive food by reducing overhead costs of extraneous amenities like dining areas and extensive parking seemed pretty ideal. Hot ‘n Now’s success was based on the premise that drive-thru business alone was enough to sustain the company. And it was, at first.

The reality is that people like to walk. People like to get out of their cars to enjoy the fresh air, stretch their legs and take a few minutes to walk to a seating area — even if it is a really quick meal. Although drive thru service is popular, people still always want the option to be able to get out of their car and sit somewhere.

Also, quite a few Hot ‘n Nows, including this one at Larch and Liberty streets, were located close to residential neighborhoods and walkable business districts. Although many Hot ‘n Nows did include a walk-up window, seating amenities were limited.

This portion of Larch is also a one-way street. One-way streets can negatively impact business because traffic is only traveling in one direction. Businesses on streets with two-direction traffic are far more likely to succeed than ones on one-way streets.

 A few updates to the facade and site might include:

- Updates to the exterior colors away from red, white and purple;
- An exterior eating area/patio enclosed by fence or garden wall (if reused as a restaurant); and
- To change Larch Street one-way traffic to two-way. (This may be a bit of a stretch but definitely worth a try, not only for the former Hot ‘n Now but all businesses on Larch.)


“Eyesore of the Week" is our look at some of the seedier properties in Lansing. It rotates each week with Eye Candy of the Week. If you have a suggestion, please e-mail eye@lansingcitypulse.com.

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