Changing skylines in the Capital City region

Growth is on the upswing from downtown Lansing to the fields of St. Johns

The Greater Lansing region saw a tremendous amount of change in 2018, and the outlook for 2019 indicates the growth will continue, with major construction projects stretching from downtown Lansing to the heart of East Lansing and north to St. Johns

But the changes go deeper than simply erecting new buildings. In 2018, announcements were made concerning professional sports, an urban grocery store and downtown hotel a significant development in East Lansing, and hundreds of new jobs in outlying communities that add to the momentum of the area.

“I happen to believe that the key to our entire three-county region, over time, is the successful development of downtowns Lansing and East Lansing, and all along the connecting corridor of Michigan Avenue,” said Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) President and CEO, Bob Trezise. “It is crucial that the Michigan Avenue corridor look like a big, musical, colorful, tall, crowded, busy place that could belong to any major cosmopolitan area in America, like Columbus, Austin or Madison.

“After all, we’re a capitol city, home to a world-class university, home to Fortune 500 national headquarters and – with very robust biotechnologies, aerospace, particle accelerators and orthopedics industries in place – we are the most diverse economy in the Great Lakes states. We just need to start looking and acting like it,” Trezise said.

Trezise added to the list of developments in 2018 the construction of several high-quality retail and housing structures in East Lansing and plans for McLaren Greater Lansing’s new $600 million hospital, which he said has generated excitement for the city of Lansing and the region.

In East Lansing, cranes tower above construction projects that will bring new retail outlets and housing opportunities to the city.

“The skyline changes to downtown East Lansing, led by Mayor Mark Meadows and the East Lansing City Council, has dramatically elevated the perception of the city of East Lansing,” Trezise said.

The arrival of a major league soccer team and the unveiling of the 600 Block project on Michigan Avenue, which will bring an urban market and new hotel to downtown Lansing, were cited as two of the most significant changes in the city.

“Mayor (Andy) Schor is to be commended for an outstanding job of attracting a nationally prominent professional soccer team to downtown Lansing in partnership with Lugnuts owner Tom Dickson,” Trezise said. “Lansing will be the only place in Michigan with a professional soccer team, which is very important for talent and business development throughout our city and region.

“Secondly, Lansing Mayor Schor and local developer Pat Gillespie worked together and successfully landed the Capital City Market, a downtown urban grocery store along with the first new hotel in downtown Lansing in decades,” he added. “This mixed-use building is going to propel downtown Lansing and our region to new economic development levels on all fronts.”

Trezise noted population growth in the metropolitan statistical area for Lansing and East Lansing has grown for four consecutive years, which changes the demographics of the area.

“We rose from No. 98 to No. 21 in the nation for GDP (gross domestic product) growth of high-tech companies in 2017. Our GDP led all of West Michigan in 2017 –  the latest year of figures released this year,” Trezise said.

The Greater Lansing area also:

  • Led the state in critical skill degrees and certificates conferred between ages of 20 and 64.
  • Was fourth in the state in both per-capita personal income growth and labor force growth in 2017.
  • Led the entire state, substantially, between 2012 and 2017, in private sector employment growth.
  • Michigan State University was once again ranked as the top physics program in the U.S., one place ahead of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In St. Johns, ground was broken for two dairy plants that are expected to create 300 jobs by the end of 2020 and help stabilize milk prices in Michigan.

Michigan Spartan LLC is building a $470 million dairy processing facility, and Proliant Dairy Ingredients is building an $85 million whey permeate plant on adjacent land.

Looking ahead, Trezise said growth will expand throughout the city.

“I think Mayor Schor continues to go do a great job leading a major effort to redevelop strategic areas of south Lansing, commercial corridors across the city and our downtown,” said Trezise, noting that LEAP has played a major leadership role in most of the improvements. “Hopefully, there could be additional significant projects in downtown Lansing.”

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