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Lansing moves forward with social district designation for Red Cedar, South Frandor area

 group of people making a toast outside with drinks in big glasses
Helena Lopes
The Frandor and Red Cedar commercial area could join Old Town, REO Town and the downtown areas as Lansing's fourth social district.

The City of Lansing is moving ahead with plans to add a new social district to the Frandor area, allowing visitors to take alcoholic beverages from certain businesses outdoors.

Lansing’s City Council approved the new social district designation Monday evening. It includes the southern part of the Frandor Shopping Center and most of the Red Cedar project along Michigan Avenue.

The proposal aims to create a fourth area in the city where visitors can take drinks from authorized vendors with them outside. It’s meant to allow patrons to travel with drinks from one business to another and at outdoor events.

 A map of the social district that includes the Southern part of Frandor Shopping Center and the Red Cedar project
City of Lansing
The new social district would include the southern part of the Frandor Shopping Center and most of the Red Cedar project along Michigan Avenue.

Kris Klein, the vice president of the Lansing Economic Development Corporation, said social districts encourage residents to travel between businesses and generate activity.

“It’s bringing another revenue stream, allowing businesses to coordinate on events," Klein said. "It’s allowing folks to enjoy those commercial areas and enjoy the walkability of our city more.”

Lansing officials implemented social districts in the Old Town, REO town and downtown neighborhoods during the COVID-19 pandemic to help businesses struggling with capacity limits and dwindling visitors. Multiple restaurants and bars continue to take advantage of the program.

The South Frandor proposal would differ from the other three by including a less dense and more broad commercial area.

Klein noted the Red Cedar district has seen substantial growth, adding he expects more density to come with additional housing and business projects as well as proposals to repurpose the old Sears building. He said new pedestrian crosswalks across the corridor would enhance safety.

Klein said the district would help create a more connected business environment.

“It also includes the amphitheater area that’s being built there, so folks will be able to purchase a beverage and walk down there and enjoy it as well,” Klein said. "

There are currently two businesses eligible for a permit to serve liquor as part of the social district, but Klein said he expects more to join them in the coming months.

The city has sent its proposal to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission for final approval.

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
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