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The revitalization of downtown Lansing after COVID-19

November 5, 2023
Downtown Lansing
Downtown Lansing —

As cities across the United States still monitor the last of COVID-19’s effects on city development, most downtown areas in Michigan have fully opened back up since the outbreak. 

Downtown Lansing is no exception. 

"Downtown Lansing has fully reopened since the COVID-19 pandemic," Cathleen Edgerly, executive director of Downtown Lansing Inc. said. "Our downtown is full of exciting attractions and locally-owned businesses catering to a variety of needs for our community."

Within the pandemic, local restaurants and small businesses took the ultimate blow, as they were forced to shut down or decrease the occupancy to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

In downtown Lansing, Edgerly added how restaurants have returned to normal occupancy limits based on the previous regulations put in place by state officials. Though there are no state mandated mask regulations anymore, businesses and restaurants determine their own policies and procedures pertaining to COVID-19. 

Lansing's downtown area has since added new attractions to the public space after the pandemic. Some of these new additions are focused on restoring the small businesses that were intensely impacted by the pandemic.

"We created the Middle Village Micro Market to nurture small businesses and help them gain their footing to grow into a traditional brick-and-mortar space," Edgerly said. "Currently, Middle Village is home to four charming stores: Honey Bun Bakery, CocoBella Fashion Boutique, Ornamaloo, and Sylvia's Sudsery."

Middle Village Micro Market was introduced in 2021. Thirteen businesses have participated in the market and all still remain in business today. Likewise, ten businesses who have participated in the market have opened their own storefronts in the downtown area.

In addition to the Micro Market, Lansing’s downtown area has established Grewal Hall, which hosts live performances and concerts.

Though COVID-19 hit small businesses the hardest, it seems as though the resilience was greater than the negative impacts.

"A few of the other businesses we have been proud to welcome downtown since the pandemic include Lansing Shuffle, a food hall and social club that features seven restaurants, six shuffleboard courts and two full-service bars, Strange Matter Coffee, which recently expanded its downtown space to include Bangos, and The Hob Nob, a coffee shop and cafe,” Edgerly said.

The reason behind these additions to Lansing's downtown area was a new plan of action.

"Through innovative strategic planning, we have created a revitalization strategy backed by our Comprehensive Market Analysis that addresses the future commercial and residential needs of the district while also re-evaluating the district’s identity," Edgerly said. "This will help us drive more traffic and sales for a more sustainable future for our downtown, cultivating more of a vibrant downtown experience at all hours of the day." 

Within this re-evaluation was a new outlook on the accessibility of downtown’s popular features it had to offer, just by means of walking. This idea led to improvements and adjustments to Main Street, leading to downtown Lansing being named a Top 8 Semifinalist for the 2024 Great American Main Street Award.

This award shines light on the innovation and cultivation added to communities in efforts to make them more revered by visitors.

Along with other downtown areas across the U.S., Lansing is looking to continue revitalizing and building their capital among the challenges brought forth during the pandemic.

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