New renovation proposal at former Michigan School for the Blind

LANSING, MI (WLNS) – The mayor unveiled a new $24 million housing development plan at the former Michigan School for the Blind.

Rina Risper has lived in the Walnut Neighborhood area for more than 25 years.

“The neighborhood in 1989 wasn’t that great, but I’ve seen it come up by leaps and bounds,” Risper said.

And now the area could see more change. The City of Lansing is planning to transform the former Michigan School for the Blind campus into housing for seniors and families. And Risper says she’s excited about the idea.

“It’s a great family neighborhood, so bringing in additional members to our community would be absolutely fantastic,” Risper said.

The redevelopment project includes renovating the Old High School, the historic Abigail building, and demolishing the auditorium.

The Abigail and the high school would be converted into 60 units of senior housing, and the auditorium would be replaced by a new building with 72 units of family housing. Lansing’s planning and neighborhood development director Bob Johnson says in addition to expanding housing options, the proposal will help prevent crime in the area.

“People like to see people walking the streets, lights on activity, people coming and going,” Johnson said. “That gives one a sense of safety, a sense of, this is a, this is a vibrant environment.”

Johnson also says the effects of the project will be far-reaching.

“This will help not only the site, but I do believe the neighborhood,” Johnson said. “There will be things that the, uh, community can benefit from.”

And Risper has some ideas.

“Maybe fixing some of the sidewalks, given the fact that they will have families with strollers and more, um, elderly people,” Rina Risper said.

And it’s all part of a new vision for the community.

Johnson says the plan is more comprehensive and backed by a different development company than previous failed attempts to renovate the area. The Lansing Planning Board will consider the proposal at their next meeting.

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