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New restaurant to bring old style charm to downtown

Tyler Bowdish worked in a steakhouse in downtown Chicago. His dad was a connoisseur of steak. So when the family relocated to their long-time vacation town of Saugatuck, the father and son set out to bring their favorite style of dining to west Michigan.

In October, Bowdish announced they will be opening a second location Bowdie's Chophouse in Lansing's Riverfront District at 320 E. Michigan Ave. The concept will mirror their two-year-old steakhouse in Saugatuck, and offer a similar menu of high quality steaks, seafood, generous sides, cocktails and wine to Mid-Michigan diners.

Bowdish says he and his dad decided on Lansing after a regular at their Saugatuck venue tipped them off about the available commercial real estate that had once housed the Knightcap.

"We heard that the Knightcap had been there forever, and that it had a similar vibe to us," says Bowdish. "We came here, looked around Lansing, and saw an opportunity to bring something to this part of the state."

Bowdish is targeting a Nov. 1 opening for the 58-seat restaurant, complimented by a 25-seat outdoor patio. He says the previous property owners already set the basic ambience, which means any renovations will be minor.

"We're not going to recreate the wheel," says Bowdish. "We're painting, changing the bar around a bit, and upgrading the light fixtures. That's about it."

The vision, Bowdish says, is to create an early- to mid-20th-century steakhouse, similar to a type where Frank Sinatra, the "Rat Pack" and others may have hung out over candlelight dinners. The chophouse will feature a small menu, but Bowdish says it hits all the key points, including USDA prime and dry-aged steak, lobster mac and cheese, New Orleans style beignets, and signature cocktails.

Bowdie's Chophouse will create 16 to 20 jobs, and will be managed and operated by Bowdish and Chef Jason Campbell.

"We want to give people a reason to come downtown and have a great dinner and walk around," Bowdish says. "I like what I see up and down the street with new bars and distilleries. It's a growing area and I see this place expanding. We just want to be part of it."

Source: Tyler Bowdish, Operator, Bowdie's Chophouse
Writer/Editor: Ann Kammerer, News Editor


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The Plant Professionals add staff, expand footprint for storage

While winter holidays come just once a year, one north Lansing business is rarely out of the holiday spirit.

For 38 years, The Plant Professionals have tended to the plant, floral and landscaping needs of Greater Lansing—including a consistent and expanding base of customers focused on seasonal decorating.

The Plant Professionals provide a mix of services that include interior and exterior landscaping, event-focused floral, plant rental and holiday decorating. And while installing artistic combinations of lights, wreaths, and seasonal plants takes center stage during the winter holidays, much of the planning, design and storage spans the seasons.

"Holiday decorating is a lot of fun because people enjoy it so much," says President Kathy Valentine. "You get so many smiles when you walk into an office to decorate. Even though it's stressful and you're working in a compressed timeframe, it's very satisfying to do."

To accommodate the logistics of their seasonal work, The Plant Professionals recently added a second storage facility on their grounds at 16886 Turner Street. The company began construction in the spring and completed the 60- x 24-foot pole barn in the fall. The new structure follows the expansion of the main building's mezzanine in early 2017.

Valentine says the new structure will provide a spacious, well-organized placed to store the hundreds of wreaths, trees, lighted reindeer, ornaments, strings of lights and other large decorative pieces The Plant Professionals combines into festive displays for dozens of businesses and organizations.

"This extra storage will give us the capability to continue to expand the types of services and décor we offer," says Valentine. "People like bright lights and sparkling glittery things. This extra space allows us to store the elements and do custom design from here."

Valentine says that 80 percent of their business comes through corporate and institutional clients. The remaining percent is a mix of residential customers needing landscaping and floral services. The Plant Professionals added three new staff to its installation team in 2017, for a total of 37 staff working year-round.

Source: Kathy Valentine, President, The Plant Professionals
Writer/Editor: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Gravity Works maintains spot on top business list

For the second year running, a small web agency nestled in Lansing's Old Town earned a coveted spot on the Inc. 5000 list and captured recognition as one of the nation's fastest-growing private companies.

Gravity Works Design and Development earned spot #3,002 on the annual list published by "Inc. Magazine." The list highlights businesses that have shown notable revenue growth for three consecutive years, and is culled from the results of the more than 7 million private businesses in the United States.

Not all businesses cited on the Inc. 5000 list make repeat appearances. In the past 36 years, only one in three have appeared twice on the list.

"I think all small business owners come to a point where they have to decide whether it's time to camp or climb," says Gravity Works Owner Jeff McWherter. "At Gravity Works, we climb."

Gravity Works was founded in 2009 and specializes in building customer websites and mobile apps. Located at the corner of N. Washington and Grand River in Old Town, the company works with Michigan-based businesses, government agencies, national franchises, and international nonprofits.

Content Strategist Hailey Anderson says company culture is a strong driver of Gravity Works' ongoing success.

"Enjoying where you work, the people you work with, and having fun makes a big difference in productivity and creativity," says Anderson. "We're deeply invested in the success of our projects because we care about our clients and doing good work."

Since 2014, Gravity Works has experienced a total growth rate of 141 percent. In 2016, the company expanded its footprint by adding more remote employees across North America. Currently, the small business employs 17 people, with 7 working remotely.

Source: Hailey Anderson, Content Strategist, Gravity Works
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Grand River Barber Company expands footprint with new location

While old school in concept, Grand River Barber Company makes the cut with modern technique and style.

Shortly after the Fourth of July, the East Lansing barbershop moved a quarter mile east on the city's downtown strip. General Manager and Barber Wayne Weigel says the search for a new space was prompted by the impending Center City District Development, but was something the four-year-old shop had been debating for a year or two.

"We had been thinking it was time for an upgrade, so it was just good timing," says Weigel. "We have a more conventional barber shop layout now. It's more spacious, the A/C works better, and it just looks really nice, upscale and comfortable."

Weigel and staff moved in late June to the former location of Velvet: A Candy Store at 507 Grand River Ave. The crew loved the space immediately. Black-and-white checkerboard flooring provided a barbershop vibe, while the ample square footage enabled the company to go from 6 to 12 chairs.

At 2,400 square feet, the new location on the avenue is more than double the size of the previous 1,100-square foot upstairs location. That, says Weigel, allows plenty of room for the five full-time and one part-time barber to serve customers—the majority being MSU students.

Grand River Barber Company fills the demand for urban cuts, but can also style and cut hair in traditional styles.

"We're among the few in this area providing a detailed, modern hair style for men," says Weigel. "We're not just getting hair shorter, we're giving the customer something very detailed."

Founder Grant Foley opened Grand River Barber Company in 2013, followed by a second shop in his hometown of Allen Park in 2015. The shop focuses on providing up-to-date, contemporary styles, and on creating an atmosphere similar to an old-fashioned shop.

"We want to be more than a barber shop," says Weigel. "We want to be a staple of East Lansing. So when you think of MSU, you think of Grand River Barber Company as a place where guys not only get a good style, they come in to hang with the guys at the barber shop."

Source: Wayne Weigel, Barber and General Manager, Grand River Barber Company
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Redevelopments create jobs, diversify REO Town commercial space

Two vacant buildings in REO Town are in the midst of transforming into vibrant mixed-use spaces for local businesses, additional office space and residential units.

Demolition began in late July to make way for the reconstruction of 1101 and 1103 S. Washington Ave. Sleepwalker Spirits and Ale could open on the ground floor of one building by December 2017, while second floor renovations are expected to be complete by September. Renovations are also underway in the adjacent building for the future home of the Wheel House Pottery Studio—owned and operated by local artist and teacher Daniel Nunez—as well as two upstairs apartments.

"It's been my privilege to teach Lansing how to play with mud for over a decade," says Nunez. "While I loved being a ceramics instructor for high schools, non-profits, and parks and recreation, I have always dreamed of opening my own studio."

Super Fancy Too, LLC, will invest $100,000 to redevelop the property that will house the brewery and restaurant at 1101. Nunez's development company, REO Life, will invest about $472,855 to rehabilitate 1103 for mixed use commercial.

When open, Sleepwalker is expected to create 12 full-time jobs. The REO Life project will create two full-time jobs, with completion expected in September 2018.

Both developers applied for Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act Certificates to abate a portion of the future tax increases that will result from building improvements.

Source: Victoria Meadows, Marketing, Communications and Talent Director, LEAP
Writer/Editor: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Major investment propels music facilities at MSU

A bold transformation is underway for music at Michigan State University as plans for a major new addition and significant facility renovations to the College of Music were announced in late June.

The preliminary plans detail a $35 million project that includes a 35,000-square-foot expansion and 8,500-square feet of renovated space to the Music Building on Circle Drive. The project was approved the MSU Board of Trustees and is made possible by more than $7 million in initial gift commitments from several donors.

“This will be an important and strategic piece of our vision for the future,” says James Forger, dean of the College of Music. “This state-of-the-art addition and renovation to the Music Building, following the world-class renovation of performance spaces including recently completed Cook Recital Hall and Fairchild Theatre, will make it a premier destination for students and faculty from around the globe. It will support the work of an exceptional faculty that is second to none.”

The initial impetus for the project came from MSU alumnus James Billman, Jr. who provided the lead gift for an expansion and refurbishment of the original 1939 Music Building. Alumni Byron and Dolores Cook and the late Ruth Charles joined Billman in setting the project in motion with major support of their own.

“Spartan musicians regularly thrill audiences with their professional performances, and their performance venues, classrooms and practice areas should reflect that,” said Billman, a 1969 graduate of the College of Natural Science.

The renovation and expansion plan includes acoustically advanced rehearsal spaces, additional practice rooms, a modern and high-tech lecture center, faculty studios and offices, a recording and multimedia room and a public gathering space with a café.

Climate control and excellent acoustical design will enhance all work in the new spaces. Larger, flexible rehearsal and performance spaces will accommodate various ensembles including bands, choirs, jazz bands and combos, new music, opera, orchestras and percussion. Significantly expanded spaces will be developed for individual practice locations as well as chamber music rehearsal space.

“This will facilitate the work of faculty and students in extraordinary ways,” says Forger. “It is gratifying that alumni and friends have stepped forward with cornerstone gifts that will transform the College.”

Forger added that improved music facilities have long been on the University's list of needs. The College has outgrown current spaces, Forger explains, with 550 students working toward music degrees and more than 2,000 additional students participating in ensembles and classes.

“Expanding and enhancing the Music Building is the next step in transforming the learning environment for scores of students and providing outstanding musical experiences for audiences,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “We are grateful to Jim Billman and other donors for leading the way in investing in a new chapter for music at MSU.”

A thorough study conducted with faculty, students, architects and planners helped identify key spaces for critically needed improvements and strategic opportunities for innovation at the College. Michigan State will provide 50 percent of $35 million needed for the renovation and expansion. The College will proceed with additional fundraising efforts for the remaining $10.5 million in gifts, and will provide opportunities for donors to name spaces in the expanded and renovated facility.

Source: Michael Sundermann, Communications Director, MSU College of Music
Writer/Editor: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Forsberg Real Estate makes big impression with Tembo tiny living homes

Eye-catching tiny homes for big thinkers are making their way to Lansing neighborhoods, starting with REO Town this summer.

T.A. Forsberg, Inc. unveiled its first completed Tembo home in late June, inviting the public to embrace a small concept with huge potential for providing attainable, quality housing in core urban areas. The compact design features one bedroom, cathedral ceilings, luxury appliances, quality fit and fixtures, energy-efficient systems and insulation, and a front porch.

"We saw a huge shortage of affordable housing in the region, and it was evident that we needed to focus on it," says Gina Pons-Schultz, Forsberg operations and project manager. "Traditionally, we've built homes for subdivisions. We wanted to diversify more, and this was it."

Pons-Schultz says the concept drew its name from the Swahili word for elephant—projecting a playful, gentle perception as well as the idea of a small home with a big welcome.

The 600-square foot model home at 127 Elm Street will rent for $850 a month. The company's goal is to build up to 50 Tembo homes within the next two years, ranging in size from 600- to 720-square feet. About five to eight of the slanted-roof homes will be built in REO town by the end of the summer, with plans for others with a slightly different design on Lansing's East Side.

Homes are built on-site, typically on vacant or infill lots purchased from the Ingham County Land Bank. The idea, Pons-Schultz says, is to enhance the quality of life within the community and to contribute to a sustainable, urban system.

"We try to get involved as much as possible and to interact with communities," says Pons-Schultz. "We went to people within REO Town before we even started building. That's how we like to do things."

Pons-Schultz says the REO Town Commercial Association has supported the Tembo project since it began about a year ago. Several merchants and artists provided furniture and artwork for the model home, including Vintage Junkies and Mary "Makeshift" Molnar.

Tembo Homes were the brainchild of the builder's CEO Brent Forsberg who worked closely with company interns for a year to tweak and test the design in a company warehouse. The Okemos-based builder celebrates 60 years of business in 2017, and was founded by Brent's grandfather Terry Forsberg.

"We're really proud of the Tembo concept house and want people to understand what our designs are all about," says Pons-Schultz. "We did a lot of research on the market, on spending patterns and on millennials. A lot of the concept comes from that."

Source: Gina Pons-Schultz, Operations and Project Manager, Forsberg Real Estate
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Acres of Play invites preschoolers to drive their own learning

D'Lynn Smith believes in letting kids make a mess. She also believes in letting them explore, move and direct their own playtime activities as a way to learn.

In early 2017, D'Lynn Smith opened Acres of Play based on her long-held philosophy of early learning and childcare. The licensed preschool—or "playschool" as Smith calls it—offers a home-based option for working families of 3-, 4- and 5-year old children.

"I opened this because I saw a great decline in programs offering true play for children—or simply allowing children to play authentically according to their nature," says Smith. "There's this huge academic push for kids to know their alphabet and be mathematically set and test well before kindergarten. I want to bring back that true, child-led form of play."

Acres of Play is located at D'Lynn's ranch-style home in Charlotte. She converted three rooms in the upper level for the preschool, starting with the 12-foot by 15-foot living room that became the main classroom and nap area. One of the three bedrooms became a "construction room" complete with toy bricks and tubes and other building materials; a second became an art and playhouse area furnished with a toy kitchen and stove, and an art table with supplies for making and creating.

Children go on occasional field trips and venture outdoors every day for play. The landscape of the huge, two-acre backyard is equipped with a climbing structure, a mud kitchen made with pallets, buckets and water, tools for shoveling and scooping, and items to roll and push and move.

"We do a lot of sensory and imaginary play," says Smith. "I don't have trademarked toys, and we don't watch movies or have screen time. We read a lot. We sing. We dance. We have art activities that are their own. It's very child-driven and child-led."

Acres of Play is licensed for six children and runs during the academic year. Smith also offers a series of summer camps based on age groups for children up to third grade. The preschool is currently enrolling for fall.

Source: D'Lynn Smith, Owner and Teacher, Acres of Play
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Firecracker Foundation triples footprint with new office space in Holt

Four years ago, Tashmica Torok founded the Firecracker Foundation from her home in South Lansing. In early June, she moved the organization into a 2,000-square foot space in Holt.

"Originally, my goal was to help six kids," says Torok. "I had no idea this is what it would become."

Torok started the Firecracker Foundation to provide child survivors of sexual trauma and their families with high quality, consistent holistic healing services. Those service have evolved to include individual mental health therapy, trauma sensitive yoga therapy, and caretaker support groups.

The foundation's new location is the organization's fourth, following a path that led from Torok's home in South Lansing to The NEO Center in North Lansing to REO Town to Suite 9 in the office plaza at 2450 Delphi Commerce Drive.

"We were looking for a place that would accommodate not just administrative work, but our program work that includes yoga and therapy," says Torok. "This office has two spaces for yoga, two therapy rooms, and some group therapy rooms as well."

Before moving, Torok gave the space a makeover, including fresh paint, new carpeting and hardwood flooring, and putting up walls to section off service areas. The larger footprint triples the foundation's previous office in REO Town. The expansion enables Torok to offer on-site space to contracted, qualified therapists, and to run more yoga programming. Torok says the new facility also provides plenty of space for the foundation's pediatric medical advisory team to hold training and continuing education sessions.

The Firecracker Foundation employs two staff in addition to Torok, and benefits from the donated talented and services of about 75 active volunteers. Torok contracts with five therapists qualified to work with pediatric sexual trauma and five trauma-informed yoga instructors.

In the past year, the Foundation's client base has grown from 25 to 100 clients, with services provided to children and families.

"It makes me feel hopeful," says Torok of the organization's rapid growth. "I think what we've created is necessary and it's evolving to meet the needs of children and families in our community."

Source: Tashmica Torok, Executive Director, Firecracker Foundation
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Creatively Mi provides space for community-inclined in downtown Charlotte

Michelle Darling travels in two circles: the world of arts and crafts and the world of community. This spring, she brought those worlds together in a 2,000-square foot space in downtown Charlotte.

Darling's new business Creatively Mi at 129 S. Cochran answers her calling to build community by bringing people together through the pursuit of arts and crafts. So far, she's offered both public and private classes in painting, crocheting, knitting, sewing, wood burning, and craft-style classes for kids. Plans are in the works for scrap booking and painting furniture. She also offers the supplies and intel people need to create on-site or at home.

"As I've gotten older, I've found interests that keep me inspired," says Darling. "And I got my chance to turn my passion into a business."

Darling was born and raised in Charlotte. She moved away for a few years when she came of age, then moved back so she could be closer to her family again. She earned her associate degree in graphic design from Lansing Community College, and works as a web master for a Lansing company.

"I've been artsy and creative my whole life," says Darling. "And when I came back home, I decided I wanted to help build the Charlotte community. There's so much going on here now."

While out and about in her community activities, Darling heard many people looking for entertainment-based options. Creatively Mi, she says, fits that niche by providing a gathering space for people to take classes, pursue a hobby, or find a new past-time.

Creatively Mi can accommodate 60 to 100 people seated at artfully arranged tables. To add to the creative ambiance, Darling painted a large mural in the theme of Van Gogh's "Starry Night" on one wall, and smaller mural with circles on another. A third wall is white, while the fourth is "interactive," with customers welcome to sign their names.

Darling currently works with five instructors. She plans to bring on a few more as well as a staff member in the next few months based on interest and need. Creatively Mi will hold a grand opening the weekend of June 17.

Source: Michelle Darling, Owner, Creatively Mi
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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The Grid brings a 'barcade' experience to Old Town

Corey Montie saw a lot of things when he left Lansing in the late 1990s to work as a professional outdoor mountain guide in California. But he came back in 2015, bringing with him a strong vision for an out-of-the-box business to add dazzle to Lansing's growing nightlife.

In mid-April, Montie opened the doors to The Grid in a repurposed bank in Old Town. The combination bar and arcade features 40 beers on tap as well as nearly three dozen vintage video games and pinball machines.

"I've seen a lot of these places on the East and West Coasts, and in major city markets like Chicago, Denver and Columbus," says Montie. "They're always packed and hopping."

Montie worked with his business partner Callie Mykut to refurbish the insides of the 3,000-square foot former bank at 226 E. Grand River Ave. Three years ago, the historic, two-story brick structure with large arched windows was home to The Chrome Cat restaurant and bar. Since then, the property has sat vacant, waiting for concept.

Montie and Mykut oversaw much of the custom work to ready for the first floor for a bar and vintage game machines, and the second level for seating and conversation. Design and lighting pay homage to the arcade world of the '80s, and draw heavily on Mario and Pacman influences.

Customers get three free tokens for each drink purchased to play games from the golden age of arcade video like Frogger, Pacman and Donkey Kong. Pinball machines date from as far back as 1962, and makeup close to half of the games on the floor. Montie's friend Jesse Russell is a long-time collector of arcade and pinball machines, and jump started The Grid with machines from his collection.

"We're targeting a specific theme and going for the nostalgic element," says Montie. "It's a way to relive something that you haven't done in years, and playing an arcade or pinball game is a quick, fun and easy activity when you're out socializing with friends.

Montie believes The Grid is the first true arcade bar in Michigan, and hopes the venue becomes an iconic destination for people in and outside of Lansing. Although The Grid doesn't have a kitchen, plans are in the works to have a food truck or two park nearby on weekends.

The Grid was 12- to 15-months in the making and created 15 jobs. Half the beers on tap are Michigan craft beers. Selections will rotate to feature as many smaller breweries as possible.

Source: Corey Montie, Co-Owner, The Grid
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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here.

 


East Lansing dentist takes grind out of dental care with new practice

Lisa Knowles believes that the story of your health can be communicated by simply opening your mouth.

As the owner of the new Haslett-East Lansing Dental Health and Wellness, Knowles believes that a variety of health conditions can be spotted through regular dental check-ups. It was a concept she first learned at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, but something that became more and more apparent as she practiced the art and science of dentistry.

"We now know that things like periodontal disease is linked to overall health and heart," says Knowles. "Knowing that, you can sometimes see what is going on with people's health by looking in their mouth."

Knowles began seeing her first patients in mid-April at her new 2,000-square foot practice located at 1451 East Lansing Drive in East Lansing. She had previously worked as a dentist in several practices in Ohio and Northern Michigan. She started her own practice in Charlotte eight years ago before deciding to open the new location.

Before going to dental school, Knowles attended Alma College where she played softball. She majored in communication and had a keen interest in fitness. In between her dental pursuits, Knowles is an occasional speaker at dental and medical conferences, and creates materials for continuing education societies. 

"I've always been about being as fit as you can be and creating a winning mind and body," says Knowles. "I think what we do physically is so important. I hope to inspire others to be healthy, and I've been fortunate to have abilities in dentistry and communication to help."

In addition to traditional dental care from cleaning to extractions, Knowles offers health coaching services for her patients who range in age from children to adults. Knowles is the sole dentist within the practice and employs two staff.

Source: Lisa Knowles, Owner and Dentist, Haslett-East Dental Health and Wellness
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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here.


Caffeine lover brews up coffee cocktails in DeWitt

Justin Hartig didn't know a lot about the coffee he was drinking until he realized how much he loved it. So three years ago, he began his studies, visiting as many coffee venues as he could to learn about the power of caffeinated brews.
 

In February, Hartig's thirst for knowledge culminated in his newest adventure: a 1950s-themed coffee shop with creative coffee drinks in downtown DeWitt. Located at 116 N. Bridge St., The Crafted Bean serves up a half-a-dozen non-alcoholic coffee cocktails that mirror the momentum of the craft brew pub scene.
 

Customers entering Hartig's shop won't find staff serving up lattes and cappuccinos, but instead a selection of seven coffee drinks that fall on the sweet to savory spectrum. The popular drinks bear monikers like "Bliss," "Chubby Checker" and "Smoking Gun" with blends of ingredients like coconut cream, peanut butter, honey and vanilla extract, or infusions of smoke chips and cherry oil.
 

"We're the third wave of coffee," says Hartig. "We put our own stamp on things. We're creating a culture. There's a process to what goes on here."
 

The Crafted Bean carries and uses bean from Caveman Coffee, Lucky Duck Premium Coffee, Fresso Coffee Company, and Craft and Mason, and features Blue Owl nitro on tap. Groovy Donuts supplies carbs for dunking.
 

While coffee cocktails and cold brew are the main attraction, customers are also drawn to the "outlaw" décor. A mural of Johnny Cash provides a focal point within an interior that combines wood beams and rough-cut paneling, runs of aluminum piping, and a black-and-white vinyl floor. A life-sized stand-up of Elvis behind bars doing the "jailhouse rock" evokes memories of when the space was once a bank.
 

Customers can enjoy an occasional live performance on a small stage. A record exchange invites music lovers to spin vinyl provided by the Record Lounge, as well as to take home a vinyl album from the donated bin.
 

"We've had a packed house since we've opened," says Hartig. "Once you step in here, you say, 'oh, I get it,' and come back."
 

Hartig is currently developing his concept for an outside coffee garden that will feature a performance stage. He also purchased a food trailer, and sets his sites on going mobile with a coffee bar and craft waffles to select destinations.
 

"I love the way this town is going," says Hartig, who also owns the training studio the Human Performance Institute down the block. "Places like Bridge Street Social and the upcoming Looking Glass Brewing Company are making this place a cultural hub. We fit in well. We're friendly outlaws. I think everyone likes us."
 

The Crafted Bean can seat about 42 people, and created six jobs—three full-time.
 

Source: Justin Hartig, Owner, The Crafted Bean
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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Redevelopment targets two blighted properties downtown Lansing

The former home of Belen Floral is back in bloom as a developer joins the City of Lansing and the Lansing Economic Area Partnership in envisioning a renovation of the once blighted properties.

 

The Belen Buildings project will involve the complete rehabilitation of the functionally obsolete buildings at 513 and 519 W. Ionia St. The two 1920s era buildings were the longtime home of Lucile Belen's flower shop—and once anchored the downtown neighborhood a few blocks west of the Capitol building. Belen was former Lansing City Council member, businesswoman, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and member of the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame. She passed away at age 97 in 2010.

 

Vesta Builders has proposed redeveloping the two, two-story buildings into 4,500- square feet of office and retail space on the first floor. The second floor will offer six market-rate residential units.

 

"The improvements we'll be making will hold true to the historical standards of the 1920s," says Project Developer Scott Schmidt of Vesta Builders. "We'll be enhancing the site with seating areas and rain gardens to increase community green space in the neighborhood."

 

Schmidt has asked the City of Lansing for a brownfield incentive which would reimburse the developer about $220,420 over the next 19 years. Vesta Builders will fund the costs up front as part of the overall project cost, with reimbursement coming from future increases in property taxes. Developers expect to complete the project by June 2018 once approved by the Lansing City Council and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

 

"LEAP is excited to be working with Vesta Builders and the City of Lansing to refresh the economic impact of a blight area right in the heart of the State—downtown Lansing," says Bob Trezise, president and CEO of LEAP. "The Belen Buildings project will re-activate a space in the downtown neighborhood with new jobs, new residential options, and new retail to be enjoyed by the neighborhood and visitors alike."

 

The Belen Buildings project will cost about $1.3 million and will create 15 to 20 temporary construction jobs and four to six new permanent jobs.

 

Source: Victoria Meadows, Marketing and Communications, LEAP
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

Got a story idea for Capital Gains? Email Ann Kammerer here.


Flipping Redheads brings upcycled chic to Charlotte main street

Two friends who shared a love for finding and refinishing discarded furniture are transforming their hobby into a small business in downtown Charlotte.

Jill Felice and Colleen Mandeville are putting all the pieces in place to open Flipping Redheads at 141A S. Cochran at the end of April. The shop, they say, is unlike other furniture or vintage stores since each chair, table, dresser or other functional finds on display has been upcycled with a "red headed twist."

"We're the garage sale queens," says Mandeville.

"We're into upcycling," says Felice.

"We enjoyed it as a hobby and making things for our family," says Mandeville. "We just thought it would be a great opportunity to share what we make with Charlotte."

Felice and Mandeville said their shop will be populated with furniture, knick-knacks and Dixie Bell paint—a specialty chalk-paint line. Customers can browse and purchase pieces from the shop floor or pick a piece to take home and paint it themselves. The two redheads say they are on hand to offer guidance on technique, as well as to paint pieces for creative reuse on demand when asked.

"We tell people to go with their creativity," says Felice. "We learned it all on our own from dabbling. You never know where it will lead you, and you play around until you get something really special."

The redheaded business partners say they take pieces on consignment, and hope to begin offering classes once they get settled into the 9-by-53-foot shop.

"We're hoping to grow and hoping the community likes our creativity," says Felice. "In the meantime, we're enjoying this journey. We're very good friends and have been for about 10 years. It's just relaxing."

Source: Jill Felice and Colleen Mandeville, Co-owners, Flipping Redheads
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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