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Wednesday, March 12,2014

Eyesore of the week

by Daniel Bollman, AIA and Andy Balaskovitz
Property: 122 S. Grand Ave., downtown Lansing

Owner: Summit Associates II, LLC

Assessed value:
$334,700

Owner says:
Wants to demolish it for a surface parking lot

Vibrant cities exhibit buildings with varied degrees of refinement, from grand monuments to simple background structures. However, buildings can be attractive and notable, even if they do not rise to landmark status. The memory of an agreeable, unassuming building may still be found in this background structure. Its modest, unaffected brick mass features pleasant proportions and minimal, but attractive details, particularly at the cornice. However, at some point in the building’s life, it was left in the care of someone who was altogether too fond of round top windows. Although the window arches echo the building’s main entrances, they draw attention away from and diminish these special entry details, while clumsily closing off the street level storefronts. Left in place, its minor aesthetic shortcomings might be addressed and corrected.

— Daniel E. Bollman, AIA

But that’s not what the building owners have planned. On Feb. 24, Jason and Ryan Granger — sons of developer Gary Granger — presented a plan to the City Council that includes demolishing the 76-yearold building for … wait for it … a surface parking lot. While the Grangers can demolish the building if they choose, they need a special land use permit from the city for the surface lot. They told the Council it’s been vacant for 30 years. The short-term goal is to “clean the site,” while ultimately marketing the parcel for future development. Granger Group owns the adjacent surface lot at Grand and Michigan avenues.

The Council was scheduled to vote on the SLU at Monday’s meeting, but it was removed from the agenda after the Grangers asked to revisit the plan, Council President A’Lynne Boles said Monday.

However, the Grangers might have avoided a foregone conclusion. The city’s Planning Board recommended denying the SLU because a surface lot “is not compatible with the essential character of the surrounding area,” among other contributing factors. The Council resolution agrees with the Planning Board’s determination. The Downtown Neighborhood Association is also against more surface parking downtown.

— Andy Balaskovitz

“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 or call Andy Balaskovitz at 999-5064.

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