Reuben Levinsohn grew up in South Lansing but only remembers coming to REO Town on occasional nights to dine with family at the former Ramon's restaurant on South Washington Avenue.
Today, the co-principal of a new development company has plans to renovate two functionally obsolete properties on the opposite side of the street of the former Mexican restaurant, and add to the vibrancy and density of a part of town he has grown to love.
"We started buying properties in REO Town about a year ago," says Levinsohn of his development ventures with business partner Nick Pope of L&P Properties. "There's lots of excitement and opportunities where REO Town is headed. We love the energy that's already there with the local community and business owners."
Levisohn and Pope purchased two adjacent buildings at 1149 and 1141 S. Washington Ave. and plan to turn around the dilapidated structures to accommodate the Blue Owl Coffee Co.
and Michigan Creative
in one, and an additional restaurant concept and loft apartments in the other. The $700,000 redevelopment project is slated to start sometime in October after the Lansing City Council approves an Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act
(OPRA) tax exemption.
The OPRA tax incentive can help offset the costs involved in redeveloping old buildings. The project is expected to generate $155,000 in new property taxes over the next 10 years while L&P Properties will save an estimated $97,000 in property taxes during the same time.
"We want to see the area continue to become a neat entertainment and art district; it's already headed there," says Levinsohn. "The people of REO Town have already built a really neat community. Like the Mayor has said, it's an extension of downtown, but it's it own town, too."
Levinsohn and Pope also own the building on the same block that houses Saddleback BBQ.
He and Pope plan to retain some of the original architectural features of the recently purchased buildings, including two advertising murals from Chapin Nivison Pharmacy and Woolworth and Sons that were hidden by drywall and plaster when the two buildings were co-joined decades ago.
In addition to their development company and projects, Levisohn and Pope also founded Washington Street Advisers, an independent financial advising group located downtown in the old Greyhound Bus depot.
Source: Reuben Levinsohn, co-principal, L&P Properties
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
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