[nfbmi-talk] wow could have been a school for the blind

joe harcz Comcast joeharcz at comcast.net
Fri Dec 3 17:23:39 CST 2010


Yes, I know. But thanks. This is why I sent the article though because it 
shows what has happened to the old school for the blind.

Peace,

Joe
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "fred olver" <goodfolks at charter.net>
To: "NFB of Michigan Internet Mailing List" <nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Friday, December 03, 2010 5:22 PM
Subject: Re: [nfbmi-talk] wow could have been a school for the blind


> Actually, Joe, this building was the library and museum of the school for 
> the blind in Lansing.
>
> Fred Olver
>
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "joe harcz Comcast" <joeharcz at comcast.net>
> To: <nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org>
> Sent: Friday, December 03, 2010 2:28 PM
> Subject: [nfbmi-talk] wow could have been a school for the blind
>
>
> The former School for the Blind library and museum comes back to life as a 
> 'neighborhood empowerment center'
>
> by
>
> Andy Balaskovitz
>
> hed/art5175nar
>
> When walking through the former School for the Blind library and museum on 
> Pine Street with Gene Townsend, the construction manager who organized its 
> redevelopment,
>
> one of the first things he said was, "It's amazing what you can get done 
> in a few weeks."
>
>
>
> Townsend, who also led the redevelopment of the former superintendent's 
> house just a short walk away, was referring to the amount of work slated 
> to be done
>
> by Dec. 20 when multiple neighborhood groups move into the property.
>
>
>
> But in a few weeks, the floors and wood walls will be finished and light 
> fixtures will be hung, turning the 46-year-old building into a 
> headquarters for
>
> local neighborhood agencies - all on time and on schedule.
>
>
>
> "The goal is to make this building a resource center for neighborhood 
> redevelopment," Townsend said. "This was an old, decrepit building and we 
> did a total
>
> gut rehab on it."
>
>
>
> Townsend maintained the "town hall" concept on the inside with an open 
> foyer as well as glass-walled conference rooms.
>
>
>
> The building is split into two portions: A one-story section to the south 
> and a two-story section on the north. He also added a new entrance on the 
> east
>
> side of the building facing Pine Street.
>
>
>
> The new tenants of the 17,000square-foot structure will be a Head Start 
> branch, a division of the Ingham County Land Bank, the Greater Lansing 
> Housing Coalition
>
> and a "few other social services agencies," Townsend said. Head Start, an 
> early child development program, occupies the one-story portion, while the 
> neighborhood
>
> groups are in the rest.
>
>
>
> The goal is to set the scene for collaboration, he added.
>
>
>
> The overall project cost $2 million, which includes the Housing 
> Coalition's purchase of the building and renovation costs. The rehab began 
> in June, Townsend
>
> said.
>
>
>
> Townsend is shooting for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design 
> (LEED) silver status, which includes rain gardens outside, new windows and 
> heating
>
> and cooling equipment - even family-sized bathrooms with showers for 
> people who want to clean up after bicycling to work or exercising during 
> lunch break.
>
>
>
> "That (LEED) process drives a lot of decisions," Townsend said.
>
>
>
> He added that the building hasn't been used since the 1970s, and 
> demolition and asbestos abatement cost about $50,000.
>
>
>
> Katherine Draper, executive director of the Housing Coalition, joined 
> Townsend on the tour. She couldn't be happier to move her six-employee 
> operation out
>
> of a "little old house."
>
>
>
> "This is very exciting for us," she said.
>
>
>
> "Our mission is to revitalize neighborhoods and assist low income families 
> with purchasing homes - this project really fits both of those things."
>
>
>
> She's referring to the open classroom, workshop and boardroom space that 
> will be free for the public.
>
>
>
> "This is a phenomenal campus, just a beautiful spot," she said. "It's a 
> natural extension of the Old Town corridor, and we hope it leads to 
> further development."
>
>
>
> On the two-story portion, the ceilings were raised five feet to let in 
> more light from roughly 10-foot windows that reach the ceiling. The 
> exposed ductwork
>
> is an off-white shade to hide dirt and cobwebs, Townsend said.
>
>
>
> The cement pillars along the original, west-facing entrance were also 
> maintained. The only real snag Townsend encountered was the foundation of 
> an old dormitory
>
> that had to be removed from the parking lot.
>
>
>
> "That was a big cost to demolish, but it has gone pretty smoothly," he 
> said. "Good subcontractors make all the difference."
>
>
>
> With the influx of new employees, children and general activity, Townsend 
> said neighbors should not be concerned about the traffic (the roads can 
> handle
>
> it) or the people (it makes the neighborhood safer). It's all about 
> density to make a neighborhood work.
>
>
>
> "It's about having eyes and ears on the property to make it work," he 
> said. "It's better than a vacant property with a cyclone fence around it."
>
>
>
> Pam Dutcher, who lives around the corner of the center at 504 W. Grand 
> River Ave., has been in the neighborhood for six years.
>
>
>
> "They won't bother me. I don't mind the extra traffic," she said.
>
>
>
> In her six years there, Dutcher has seen her share of gangs, violence and 
> dog fighting near her home, she said. But the new center, along with a 
> spattering
>
> of homes nearby fixed up by the Land Bank, things are getting better, she 
> said.
>
>
>
> "That 40 acres of land is nice," she said, referring to the campus. "A lot 
> of people walk their dogs over there."
>
>
>
> This project was about twice as large as Townsend's Printer's Row housing 
> development in the Cherry Hill Neighborhood downtown, he said. This is 
> another
>
> feather in his cap, though, for the area in and around the Walnut 
> neighborhood: He was also construction manager for a couple of houses on 
> Maple Street
>
> as well as the former superintendent's house, which is used by Rizzi 
> Designs.
>
>
>
> Townsend said the old school building on campus a short walk away from the 
> center is "getting the most attention" now. It would most likely be 
> residential,
>
> but there are significant startup costs standing in its way - the price of 
> rent must make up for the costs to renovate, which looks shaky right now.
>
>
>
> "They would make wonderful lofts," he said.
>
>
>
> When looking around the property, it becomes obvious Townsend is leaving 
> his mark. But he's modest. "Yeah, we're starting to. This is going to be a 
> cool
>
> facility."
>
> http://www.lansingcitypulse.com/lansing/article-5175-revitalization-hq.html
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