REO Town Festival Site, Lansing

The former site of the Deluxe Inn is currently a large grassy lot situated between downtown Lansing and REO Town, the first commercial corridor/neighborhood to the south of the principal shopping district.  In 2011 the area’s business owners and neighbors installed a large (almost 50 feet long!) REO Town sign welcoming visitors to the area.  It is an otherwise blank slate.

The Ingham County Land Bank purchased the property in 2010 and demolition was scheduled for that winter.  In September, Ingham County Treasurer Eric Schertzing invited a group of local graffiti artists to make the building their canvas for a weekend and, for the first time in years, passers-by stopped to ogle something other than the most recent arrest; the Deluxe Inn had become a massive public art space.  When the wrecking balls came a few weeks later, it was the first time in years the area’s residents wished the building could stick around a while longer.

The site now serves as the gateway between downtown and REO Town and, thanks in large part to the massive sign installed on the property, REO Town is now an identifiable part of the city to Lansing residents instead of a non-descript corridor between downtown and the south side.

We would like to transform the former Deluxe Inn site into a viable location for a variety of special events promoting REO Town and downtown Lansing.

The primary (and not particularly glamorous) expense in making the site a usable event space is installing a permanent electrical service.  The site is bordered to the south and east by the Grand River, the north by Interstate 496, and the west by the Cooley Botanical Gardens, so access to power in the immediate vicinity is non-existent.  There is a service pole on the edge of the property, and the LBWL will connect to an outdoor service box free of charge, but a licensed electrical contractor must be hired to install the actual service.

Once this is established, numerous possibilities open for the site.  In the immediate future we would like to install permanent lighting to illuminate the REO Town sign.  We also are planning to host a music and art festival this September in collaboration with a Lansing area record label (see www.reotownartattack.com for last year’s event).  The RTCA now owns a large stage and has access to sound and light equipment and, with a suitable venue, would be able to hold regular outdoor events.

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