© 2024 Michigan State University Board of Trustees
Public Media from Michigan State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Study recommends walkability to encourage downtown Lansing growth

Flickr - Corey Seeman

A new study of Lansing's commercial districts recommends the city should support new retail businesses, construct more housing and make public spaces welcoming to pedestrians.

Downtown Lansing Inc. released the findings from a comprehensive market analysis it commissioned to understand how the city can encourage more sustainable development and attract more visitors. The analysis includes several specific proposals and examples of changes that it says would transform the city.

"When essential amenities exist within walking distance, residents can save time and money on commuting, reduce traffic congestion, and minimize their carbon footprint," the economic revitalization group wrote in its executive summary of the study. "This supports sustainability and accessibility goals while creating a walkable neighborhood that fosters organic interactions among residents, promoting a sense of belonging and community cohesion."

Downtown Lansing Inc. indicated a need to improve the downtown's retail business offerings, finding that pharmacies, apparel, and home good stores are some of the area's most in-demand businesses.

"There's still identified gaps in retail establishments," said Downtown Lansing Inc. Executive Director Cathleen Edgerly. "Filling these gaps will help lead to more residents wanting to call downtown Lansing and Lansing as a city home, and then, therefore, lead to more traffic.”

Edgerly said the capital should reduce the walking distance between businesses and residents to generate more activity. She noted a goal of keeping amenities no more than a 15-minute walk away.

The study also recommends that the city construct hundreds of new housing units to increase residential density downtown. It suggests Lansing could develop more than 1,100 new rental units every year for the next five years.

Edgerly said future housing should be designed to include people in different family sizes and a wide range of income levels.

The market analysis also suggests Lansing should invest in its streets, parks and riverfront to make its downtown more walkable. The recommendations include expanding connections to the riverfront and adding bike lanes along key commercial neighborhoods.

Edgerly said the city should accommodate a variety of transportation options.

“We don't all drive, we don't all bike, we don't all take bus," she said. "We have to have a variety of options available to those who call Lansing and this region home.”

Edgerly said her organization is working with city officials to ensure they have a vision to incorporate the recommendations and guide future projects downtown.

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
Journalism at this station is made possible by donors who value local reporting. Donate today to keep stories like this one coming. It is thanks to your generosity that we can keep this content free and accessible for everyone. Thanks!