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LEAP, Lansing Chamber ask governor for $5 million for downtown Lansing

Posted at 11:20 PM, Feb 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-07 23:20:55-05

LANSING, Mich. — The increase in the number of state employees working remotely has had a negative impact on downtown Lansing. Now, three business advocacy groups are asking state leaders to provide downtown Lansing with federal dollars.

Downtown Lansing is facing an extreme threat due to the pandemic,” said Bob Trezise, president and CEO of the Lansing Economic Area Partnership.

Since the pandemic started, downtown offices have seen a sharp increase in vacancies.

“Nearly 1 million square feet is now vacant in downtown,” Trezise said. “Primarily the increase in vacancy is because of state government going hybrid, like we all are.”

Tresize said fewer people downtown means less money being spent at downtown businesses.

“It has had a devastating impact on small businesses that are located in downtown Lansing,” he said. “There are businesses that are very dependent on regular consistent customer use, and in great part, that was definitely state workers in employees in our downtown.”

We’re told the vacancy increase has also made parking revenue drop drastically.

“You know there are bonds we have that are dependent on parking profits,” Trezise said.

Tresize is predicting it will take around 10 years for downtown Lansing to recover from the pandemic.

Recently, LEAP along with the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce sent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer a letter asking her to invest a portion the state's federal relief money into downtown Lansing.

“We’re asking for $5 million to assist the Downtown Lansing Inc. group to try and help rebuild our downtown,” Trezise said.

Tim Daman, president and CEO of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, said “I think the state, they have an obligation to downtown Lansing to be a partner with us and help us navigate where we are right now and bridge to what it would look like in the future."

The money would be used for grants and loan programs to help small businesses, reducing vacancy downtown by turning empty office spaces into residential units and improving the downtown image.

“You know, turning downtown Lansing more into an entertainment district and that includes not only bringing in more entertainment but the cost of amenities like fixing up sidewalks, lighting and the river front,” Trezise said. "Things like that."