LANSING, MI – Plans for a $20 million mixed use redevelopment of the former Knapp’s Department Store building were announced by officials from the Eyde Company and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero today.
“The Knapp’s Centre is a Lansing icon and a national treasure,” said Lansing Mayor Bernero. “Many Lansing residents can remember shopping there when they were young, particularly around Christmas. It was bustling then, and we’re delighted to have it become a thriving center of activity for Lansing once again.”
The ambitious plan – which would rank among the most significant redevelopment projects in recent Lansing history – calls for retail and restaurant space on the first floor, office space on the second through fourth floors and residential units on the top floor.
“The Knapp’s Centre will stand alongside the Ottawa Power Station as another shining example of our commitment to maintaining Lansing’s iconic structures as centers of economic activity and job creation and retention in the new economy,” said Bernero.
The Knapp’s Centre will be saved using an approach similar to the nationally recognized private/public effort to save and revitalize the Ottawa Power Station. The historic nature and sheer size of the building means the Knapp’s Centre revitalization cannot become economically viable and generate new economic activity, jobs and residents in downtown Lansing without a broad private/public partnership.
The success of the Knapp’s Centre revitalization project depends on the approval of the following incentives from state and local partners:
- Renaissance Zone
- Federal Housing and Urban Development Authority (HUD) Section 108 Loan
- Brownfields Economic Development Initiative (BEDI)
- Local and state historic tax credits
- Federal New Market Tax Credits
The development is expected to create 150-200 construction jobs. In addition, the Eyde Company will move its headquarters into the building upon completion, bringing an additional 50 permanent jobs to downtown Lansing.
“The complexities of a historic preservation on this scale have meant that a public/private partnership is the only way the restore the building in an economically sound fashion,” said Lansing Planning and Neighborhood Development Director Bob Johnson. “And the fact that the Eyde Company has committed to moving its corporate headquarters to the Knapp’s Centre once it’s finished goes to show how committed they are to making this development work.”
Included in the redevelopment plans for the Knapp’s Centre is 10,000 square feet of space that would allow the Lansing Economic Development Corporation to open a business incubator. The incubator would provide a nurturing environment where start-up businesses – anything from high-tech to retail to artistic endeavors – could grow and prosper.
“The Knapp’s Centre’s rebirth will be a public/private partnership in every sense of the phrase,” said Lansing Economic Development Corporation Vice President Karl Dorshimer. “The building will become yet another focal point for downtown Lansing. It will bring new patrons for area businesses, generate new income tax revenue for the city of Lansing and create a critical mass of people that will stabilize and raise the value of other nearby properties downtown.”
“The Knapp’s Centre has been largely underutilized for the past 20 years,” said building developer Nick Eyde, the Eyde Company project manager for the development. “It’s steeped with history and is truly one of Lansing’s most beautiful and unique buildings. We’re thankful for the chance to finally put it back into prominent use.”
The Knapp’s Centre, located at the corner of Washington Square and Washtenaw Ave., opened to great fanfare on Dec. 7, 1937. People marveled at its unique design, which used a relatively experimental concrete and glass block wall system. The five-story building was wrapped in bands of blue and yellow “macotta,” a system of concrete blocks covered with metal panels.
In 1983 the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The Knapp’s Centre is considered one of the finest intact examples of Streamline Art Moderne architecture in the Midwest.
It served as the headquarters of the J.W. Knapp’s Company until 1970, when the company was sold to the L.S. Good Company. In the 1980’s it was sold to The Eyde Company, which leased the building to the state of Michigan. The state vacated the building in 2002 and it has remained vacant ever since.
“It’s almost a sin that this grand and stately building has been allowed to deteriorate in recent years,” said Lansing City Council President A’Lynne Robinson. “That’s why it’s such a blessing that we have been presented the opportunity to restore the Knapp’s Centre to its rightful prominence. The City Council looks forward to working with the developer to bring the building back to use.”
Contact: Josh Hovey, The Rossman Grou firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 517-712-5829