REO Town Development

edited September 2016 in Lansing
Thought this neighborhood could use it's own catch-all post.

Two buildings will undergo a $700,000 renovation on Washington. 1149 South Washington at the corner with South Street will be renovated into space for an ad agency, Michigan Creative, and a coffee shop, Blue Owl Coffee Co. Up the block at 1141 South Washington where Lansing Uniform used to be a restaurant will go in on the ground floor with three apartments created above. Apparently, REO Brew School currently operates in 1149 South Washington and they will share the space with the coffee shop. Pretty interesting set-up if you ask me. lol The restaurant at 1141 South hasn't been nailed down, but they say they have three interested in the site.

1149 South Washington


1141 South Washington (red building with white trim, third from left)

8848521897_3534e2e78e_z.jpgWashington Avenue, REO Town by NewCityOne, on Flickr


  • This is great news for REOtown. Across the street all the store fronts except one are occupied and a new mural has been added to the several others in the neighborhood. The parking lot in the middle if the block has been reconfigured with picnic tables and more trees. The restaurants already there do a great business. There are lots of people who work in REOtown these days, looking for lunch and a coffee, I think they will do very well. We could still use a little grocery store, maybe with a deli would be nice. Some one is cleaning up the property at the corner of E. Barnes Ave and S.Washington Ave. There was once a great hot dog stand there, I don't know what it was after that. They are cleaning up the whole lot and it looks much better already. It is not evident what is going in there.
  • edited September 2016
    Out of curiosity, when you talk about them cleaning up the property there, does that mean they cleared the old building from the site? I've always been shocked it was never demolished or resused. The neighborhood had gotten pretty bad at one time, but not so bad that a business couldn't operate there. It always seemed like an obvious property to reuse given that there has been a store across the street. I actually went to elementary school in the area, and it was a Little Caesars for a few years, but it had probably gone out of business even when I was still in school, and hasn't had any business in its sense.

    In fact, I'd like to see the building torn down and them put up a streetwall of storefronts along the whole Washington frontage, there, as the lot to the north has also been vacant forever. That whole block south of Baker and north of Mount Hope is poised for redevelopment. From within you've already got REACH Art Studio's redevelopment just north of the railroad tracks, and the little bar on the otherside of the block has remained throughout everything.

    BTW, south of the neighborhood, I noticed they doing some (minor) renovation work on the old factory that houses Quality Dairy's headquarters (where they also make all of their containers, QDC Plastics) on Mount Hope. I don't know if it's just painting the outside, but they've done it. They also did some exterior paint job at the old steel meel just next door, Gerdau Lansing. Apparently, this is a "downstream operation" plant as opposed to a mill, these days. Not sure what that means. Maybe they finish the product here, I don't know. Either way, with the introduction of the new BWL plant, there are a lot more jobs in the immediate vicinity than people realize.

    Finally, REO Town's facebook page had a photo up of the coffee shop out on the sidewalk. I guess I've not been through here during the work hours, so I hadn't realized how busy it'd gotten. I said it in another thread, but I'd love for CATA to put together some shuttles in between REO Town and Old Town via downtown and maybe one between downtown and the districts along East Michigan Avenue. I'd be nice even if they are just like 11:00 to 1:00 lunchtime shuttles to allow the different Everything is close enough that you'd need no more than their smaller buses, but far enough away that it doesn't make much a sense of walking when you have limited time.

  • Yes, they seem to be cleaning up the little building on the east side of Washington Ave. It's just a block shaped building with a parking lot. They have mowed the whole site including the next lot near the "Fabulous Acres" sign. That would be great to see some new building there, but it does not look like that is in the plans as of yet. The Speedwagon store across the street is very busy as it serves hot food to go. They have cleaned up a bit around there. Now if they could just repave W. Barnes Ave, it would go along way to stopping the "ghetto" feeling that corner has. I like seeing people around there and everyone has always been very friendly to me when I go there. If they fixed the street and sidewalks continued the nice street lights up to My Hope it would really help tie together the north and south ends of REOtown and make it feel like one nice neighborhood. Now they need to get someone into the former pool hall, and re-hab the gas station next to Moores River Dr. that has bullet proof plastic walls inside. We don't go in there so they may have already done that. The owners there have also cleaned up the outside.
    Down at Mt Hope they seem to be painting the building brown, a bit better than the beige I guess. I think QD could go a long way toward fixing up their buildings in REOtown, and I think people would like that. The one with the mural was a REO Speedwagon show room at one time fix up that one anyway, a nice row of store front facades could replace the corrugated metal. They could even go with the cider mill thyme and open up a cider and donuts type attraction. My last point would be the big church, there is dirty old ripped carpet on the front stairs that looks bad, also the sidewalk there is cracked and broken with large holes. They have however also cleaned up their grounds recently. There is a neighborhood feeling and spirit there already.
  • I hate to say it because I grew up on them, but QD is a pretty bad neighbor, and it's going to be like pulling teeth to get them to upgrade their stories. I grew up going to the one on Cedar and Saginaw; they've have down the bare minimum maintenance on the property. They are not big on spending money on their stores unless they absolutely have to. A car hit their sign at the corner and instead of putting up a new one, they just tore down.

    There was an LSJ article a few years back detailing the history of the company, and they were described as being started by "thrifty" German immigrants or some such thing. Well, I guess that thriftiness (which I just call cheap. lol) has been on constant display through the years. I don't want them to go all Hollywood and get too cool for school, but they could update themselves a bit. They've done ONE big upgrade, and that's gussying up the store at Michigan and Harrison in East Lansing, and that's ONLY because it's across the street from some dormitories and student apartments.

    BTW, does my mind decieve me, or did the facility next door to the old South Baptist Church there on Washington also used to house a store?
  • There may have been a QD store there but I do not remember it either. I went to the QD on Mt Hope, and Pattengill as a kid, but my Dad worked at REO and I do not remember going to a QD there when we picked him up from work.There could have been at some point in the mean time. I have noticed that it often depends on which neighborhood the store is in, as to how well the store is kept up. This could be how diligent the crew is at the different stores, but some are clean and some are less so. The area that I think they could really use some help is their parking lots and grounds. It is a different scale but the Speedway stores takes much better care of their grounds and buildings. The QD employees are always very nice and helpful no matter the neighborhood.
    The new paint is more a red brick color than brown, they are not finished yet but the building looks better. There use to be three gas stations at that intersection, and they would have price wars, I think I paid 9 cents a gallon at one station there in the 70's before the oil embargo.
  • edited September 2016
    The old South Baptist is still a church. Bethlehem Temple / The Bread House. The Quality Dairy store was where their process site is now - same facade. Dumpy store, even by QD standards.
  • Welcome to the forum Quakerrocker!
  • I lived on 300 block of Moores River Drive in the late 70's I do have a memory of a QD sign there. I must have gone in there. I know it is still a church, that is were I vote. I was just saying they could fix up out front a bit. This week was the first time I have seen them use the parking lot across the street on Baker. A very popular and loved person must have passed away.
  • @Quakerrocker Welcome! I'd thought I heard someone mention something about a QD there before, it's nice to know for sure. I'm curious, was it on the first floor of the old two-floor building at Island & Washington?
  • edited October 2016
    Nope. It was the at the part of the complex nearest the old South Baptist Church if my mind remembers it correctly. In fact, I kind of vaguely remember the fiberglass cow that used to be outside at the headquarters on Mt. Hope and Washington being at this location for awhile. Maybe my mind is mixing this up, but I do remember the store being in the newer part of the complex nearer the corner with Woodlawn than Island.
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