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JonB

Living downtown

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longtime reader, first time contributor. this forum has been a great way for me to keep up on whats going on in the area and keep me excited about lansing...so major kudos to all of you.

it seems like lansing is starting to turn the corner and has a lot of great developments underway or about to start soon (stadium district, the fisher apartments, the arbaugh, etc). from what i've read it sounds like there are about 30,000 people that work downtown and live someplace else.

why do you think these people commute to work instead of living in the city?

is it a lack of nice restaurants and shopping near the capitol?

is there an unwarranted misconception about crime that scares people?

or is there simply not enough high quality housing downtown?

what is being done to make living downtown more appealing and what should be done that isn't currently happening?

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I think the core problem is their not being enough other people who live downtown, not very many people want to be among the first. Once we reach a certain, comfortable, number of people living downtown I beleive all the issues will clear themselves up. With more people downtown will be more active reducing crime and allowing more businesses to open and to stay open longer hours. As the market grows their will be more and better housing options. I think that realistically, everything is being done correctly, at least for the most part. I think something that is going to have to happen before many ill move downtown is the construction of residential high rises in the heart of downtown. I, for one, would not spend any considerable amount of money to live downtown unless it was at least 10 floors up, prefrably in the teens though.

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hise rise living has it's draw backs. Once you get into the upper teens you'll have cool views of whatever, but you'll have to wait for the elevator, you would be surprised how you take for granted the ability to freely move in and out of a house. Secondly make sure you have a deck, porch, something that'll allow you to enjoy the nice weather because if you don't it's not the same just looking out the window at your "million dollar" views of whatever.

I speak first hand because i live on the 29th floor of a high rise, without a deck, and i seem to find myself always waiting for the elevator, The worst is when i'm in a hurry, run out my door and press the button just to wait impatiently for five minutes. But the views are awesome! and no yard maintaince or snow shoveling.

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High-rise living shouldn't even be an issue, now. What is simply needed is a goal to shoot towards in terms of the number of units we look to add to downtown, each year, and the retail will follow. Forget high-rises, they are but one option of living in a downtown, and will come when they come. It's really a side issue. First and foremost, we can't let the current downtown housing boom stall. We need more cheerleaders for downtown to continue to bring in this first wave of downtown "pioneers," and let the ball keep rolling.

Elevator issues, and this-and-that, are far-off issues, and pretty frivilous considering downtown still has much more to do, and much larger problems.

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That's one thing I left out, I want a decent sized balcony.

Lmich, maybe for you and many people high rises are a non-issue. But there are many people who simply won't live downtown unless they can be in a high-rise. Those people will never live downtown without it being in a high rise, so by not having any you are shutting out a sizable market.

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The high-rise market, at the moment, is small. It will grow as a supply is produced. Right now, the city could go through quite a few more stadium district-type developments to satisfy the current demand for housing. The high-rise market in a city the size, layout, and build of Lansing is much smaller than you think. A majority of urban pioneers in places even as large as Detroit, or Cincinnati...are looking first for price, location, and amenities, and if it happens to be a new high-rise, that's just the cherry to top the whole thing. I can say with quite some certainty that Americans in most parts of the country, with very few exceptions where high-rise living is a must (as the density requires it), are pretty indifferent to whether a new downtown residential development is a high-rise, or not, and that's not an opinion, but the way it's been in this country for decades.

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Relax Lmichigan, Hood's interested in high rise living. He's using his imagination of what Lansing can become. There's nothing wrong with that. Besides one High rise project in the city just might fill the niche that hood is talkin' about. I will agree that Lansing's focus as with most post industrial cities should be directed toward existing properties that highlight there rich and unique history.

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Oh, I'd like as much as everyone to see high-rise living in Lansing (apart from Lansing Towers, and the senior high-rises), but my personal opinion aside, I had to make the point that barring a handful of cities in this country, that particular aspect of residential living is secondary to all of the other factors I posted. Most Americans, even those looking into urban living, couldn't care less about high-rise living. In fact, even things like lofts have more of the market in most American cities. Again, most people are really only looking for location, price, and amenities. My only point is that downtown Lansing will revive, with or without high-rise living. Fortunately, it will not have to choose high-rise living (as demand increases for downtown space), as it will eventually become feasible. Not every person (or even most) looking into living downtown wants to live in a high-rise, and not everyone wants to live in a loft (though many more than want to live in a high-rise). That's the beauty in the whole thing, diversity in housing. Even as an admirer of high-rises, I can't say I'll be losing in sleep over not having new construction, high-rise living in downtown, at the moment, as the city is in the very beginning stages of a downtow revitalization.

I seriously don't want to rain on anyone's parade, purposefully, but it is just flat wrong that somehow downtown needs high-rise living, or is missing out on huge (or even large) market, right now, for it to be revitalized.

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I'm not saying that there is a huge demand for high rises, I'm saying there is enough demand to effortlessly fill one or two high rises right now. I would say that they could safely bet on filling 150-200 highrise units. As time progresses demand will grow, but I think there is still enough demand now to justify one or two buildings.

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THAT I can definitely agree with. It's embarassing that a city the size and importance of Lansing would only have one, market-rate residential high-rise in the entire city (i.e. Lansing Towers). That's just shameful. I've said this before, but I'd love the city demand that the State of Michigan consolidate their parking in west downtown into a few garages and or underground lots freeing up those HUGE parcels of land around the State Museum/Library, and the Capitol Complex. I envision that area as being high-rise in nature. I've always been disappointed that there is literally like a handful of retail businesses west of Capitol Avenue all the way to edge of downtown at MLK.

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While I would like to see retail and residential in western downtown, unless there are some big changes made and a developer really goes out on a limb for a project, I think those lots will end up offices at best. Also, I don't really like to count Lansing Towers as any sort of notable residential high rise. It's ugly, in need of some serious remodling and not in the core of downtown. I think that with all this new development Lansing Towers will probably have a complete remodling coming up before too long. I'm hoping for a new facade, I would like to see a classic brick facade with one of those pitched copper roofs (real or realistic) like the one on Lee Plaza, actually I think that that overall design would work well for Lansing Towers.

About the parking situation over there, I think the city should offer to build two huge ramps, 1500-2000 spaces each (maybe more), with each taking up a half block, they should be staggered, one behind the Cass Building and one along "Michigan" near Butler. The city should do this on the condition that the state let the city master plan the area and the state could sell off a certain amount of it to private developers, keeping maybe a block or twos worth (not contigious blocks) of land for themselves.

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Whether you or I like it or not, Lansing Towers IS the only market-rate residential high-rise in Lansing, regardless of how beat up it is. I don't expect any big changes to the towers. It would take rising land values, and retail and such happening in west downtown to get the owner to put anything back into the tower, and as you think yourself, nothing much is going to happen on the west side of downtown.

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I've really enjoyed reading all your posts. Interesting stuff. While developing Lansing is something I strongly support, I find it curious that none of you have mentioned the one BIG thing lacking in our community.....a quality school system.

You ask why people are leaving? I'm a middle-aged woman who has lived in this area for almost 25 years. Lansing was a viable, thriving city when I moved here in 1979. No one hesitated to buy a house in Lansing back then. Fast forward to today and basically 90% of the people I know have moved out of the city. The reason? They want their children to go to a decent school system and they're willing to ante up the high cost of suburban housing/taxes to get it.

You can develop and develop all you want, but the people who have the money to buy the condo's and new family units are not college students or singles looking for a hip place on the riverfront. It's 2-income families looking for a place to raise their children with a good neighborhood and great schools.

Seriously, you can't beat some of the Lansing neighborhoods. We have some of the nicest parks and communities any city could offer. I love the convenience and diversity offered here in Lansing. Just last week a friend was visiting from Mt. Pleasant. He said.. "wow Lansing is really diverse..did you see those kids walking to the dairy queen? There were 3 whites, 2 blacks, a hispanic and an asian kid all walking together". I doubt you'd see that in one of our high-priced suburbs.

Anyhow, I've really enjoyed reading all the posts here about Lansing. It's encouraging to see all of your enthusiasm...but my personal opinion is that until the school system is upgraded .. in a very serious way.. we will not see the revitalization you all are talking about. Improve the schools and people will stay. It's as simple as that.

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Schools seem to be a sticking point for urban cities all across the United States. And, while I do agree that urban schools need to somehow find a solution, they have something just as great working against: perception. The Lansing school system has the most options and programs out of any school district in Mid-Michigan. IMO, the problem isn't so much the schools, but the fact that when the "White Flight" phenomnon hit urban cities, the families with money either left the city altogether, or sneaked their kids into other school districts, or put them in private schooling leaving behind mostly the most impoverished of children, many of which are just struggling to survive, let alone do good in school.

It seems many judge how "good" a school is too narrowly. Some only take standardized test scores into account, which is an irresonsible way to judge a school, and putting it off on bad teachers. Maybe it doesn't speak alot of the LSD, but they are one of the better urban school districts in the state, yet from many people's perspective in this area you'd think they were akin to Detroit's school district, which is very poorly run. So, while I agree that the LSD needs to be brought up further, I still fear that no matter what they do, for many, they'll always see them as a horrible system, which is really sad. Race has a lot to do with this, though, many would hate to believe it. In a city that is 65% non-Hispanic White, they only making up something like 30% of the school population, I believe, which shows you the faith they have in the school system. How are the schools going to "get better" if people are continually taking their children out the district, leaving behind those that get "stuck" in the systems? What happens with a declining enrollment is that not only are less children going to LSD, but you're leaving behind the poorer people to pay for and suppor a school system built for a much larger population. That's makes the task of improving schools nearly impossible.

It's just a mess with complex solutions that urban school districts are still losing.

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As a product of the Lansing School District (K-12) and someone who has visited suburban schools, I can tell you that the "perceptions" of the Lansing school district are not all that exaggerated, of course I've never heard anyone even attempt to compare Lansing to Detroit or Flint, if anyone does that is pretty extreme. But Lansing has serious problems, I would honesty reccommend parents to send their kids outside the district if they can. And I have always gone to the "better" lansing schools: Cavanaugh, Gardener and Everett, there were still more than enough problems there. Even the teachers say the kids get worse every year, the biggest problem being incompetent parents. And these are not your idiot out of touch teachers, the one I've heard the most is a teacher that is respected and liked by all his students and you can tell it sort of hurts him that things are going the way they are. The point is though that Lansing is in the same position as all other urban schools, and many of those cities are still thriving, at least downtown, the schools make for a good reason why the city as a whole isn't doing to good but it's no excuse for a lack of development in and around downtown.

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Yes Lansing school district is off from East Lansing, or even those in Grand Rapids... but seems like improvements are being made. Once done, may attract more to area as well.

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