Development coming to site of school where Malcolm X attended kindergarten

·3 min read
Renderings of the development project planned at the site of the former Pleasant Grove Elementary School.
Renderings of the development project planned at the site of the former Pleasant Grove Elementary School.

The site of the former Pleasant Grove Elementary School that Malcolm X attended as a child will soon be used for a new mixed-use development.

The City of Lansing is working with Ferguson Development, LLC, a local real estate company, to develop the site of the vacant school building into housing and commercial rental space, which officials say will "serve as an anchor to stimulate both community and economic redevelopment."

The property is located at the intersection of Pleasant Grove and West Holmes Road in southwest Lansing. Pleasant Grove Elementary School was built in 1923. Malcolm X — then Malcolm Little — attended for kindergarten in 1931.

The school building will be demolished this summer, and construction is expected to be finished by summer 2024.

MORE: The shuttered Lansing elementary school that Malcolm X once attended could be redeveloped

The redevelopment plan includes the construction of two buildings. The first is a two-story, 27,445-square-foot commercial building with office, financial, institutional and medical space available for rent. A second 19,380-square-foot building will contain 30 residential apartments.

"This is a game-changer in my opinion," City Council President Adam Hussain said at a Monday press conference. "It checks so many critical boxes all at once, so when you talk about investment in blight elimination, in job creation, in access to reputable health care and access to reputable financial services...the promise of this project is exciting."

Renderings of the development project planned at the site of the former Pleasant Grove Elementary School.
Renderings of the development project planned at the site of the former Pleasant Grove Elementary School.

In addition to city leadership, developers have worked with the South Side Community Coalition, the Ingham County Landbank and Southwest Action Group, a neighborhood organization.

Southwest Action Group began taking the neighborhood's pulse surrounding the project in 2017, conducting community surveys and compiling data about what residents wanted to see in the area.

"We have a foundation of over two to three dozen different support groups and networks that we've brought to the table to be able to say southwest Lansing is worth it," said Rachel White, president of the group.

Community collaboration has been critically important to the project, said Christopher Stralkowski, executive project manager at Ferguson Development, LLC.

"We've engaged the community where it wants to be engaged, as opposed to being a developer where we have something in mind," he said. "We're looking at a vision of taking this building and turning it into a...location that the neighborhoods could utilize for access to resources, to access for empowerment."

Developers are considering veteran housing for the apartments, said Eric Helzer, principal at Advanced Redevelopment, who is partnering on the project.

"We're trying to really look at all the needs," he said. "What we've been finding is veterans' support housing is extremely limited in Lansing."

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor said that although development throughout the city is crucial, being able to revitalize a historically underserved area is especially exciting.

"This is a part of town that has not had the same resources in the past," he said. "This is an area of town that deserves this kind of growth.

Preliminary floor plans for the development project at the site of the former Pleasant Grove Elementary School.
Preliminary floor plans for the development project at the site of the former Pleasant Grove Elementary School.

The goal is to transform not just the building site, but the surrounding neighborhood, said Joel Ferguson, principal at Ferguson Development.

"The key thing is to build in a neighborhood...that people want to be around, and then people benefit," he said. "Our goal is to make this a go-to community."

Contact reporter Elena Durnbaugh at (517) 231-9501 or edurnbaugh@lsj.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ElenaDurnbaugh.

This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: Development coming to site of school where Malcolm X attended kindergarten

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