The 113-year-old Michigan train station will be a cafeteria and retail space after a $ 3.1 million upgrade

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The 113-year-old train depot, 637 E. Michigan Ave., was home to Clara’s Restaurant until it closed in 2016. It now sits vacant just a few blocks from the state Capitol building. The Gillespie Group, which has more than a decade of experience redeveloping properties in the area, plans to bring it back to life. Gillespie has plans for a national coffee retailer to occupy part of the revitalized depot, said Ashley Brzezinski, Gillespie director of marketing. The remaining 4,045 square feet, which includes a train car could be repurposed as a restaurant, retail or office space. The developer has heard from several interested parties and is “pursuing all inquiries,” she said.

While the depot isn’t a registered historic place, there are plans to restore and preserve its historic charms, Brzezinski said. Upgrades will include new windows, doors and roof, plus clean up and restoration of the exterior masonry. A new parking lot will be laid and a drive thru will be added. Green space will include a parklet. The Gillespie Group’s work includes the BLOCK600 brownfield project across the street from the train station, which redeveloped several vacant, contaminated parcels, including a former gas station. Investment is that project totals $41.5 million.

RELATED: 113-year-old Michigan train station to be redeveloped into mixed-use community space Brownfield plans are used to capture new property taxes generated by private investment as reimbursement for the cost of cleaning up contaminated sites.

“The repurposing of this now vacant building will help create an even more vibrant Michigan Avenue, while still allowing residents to enjoy its historic charm,” Mayor Andy Schor said in a statement. Construction is expected to begin in September and wrap up during summer 2022, she said.

READ MORE: Gillespie asked the city of Lansing and Lansing Brownfield Redevelopment Authority to amend the Michigan Avenue brownfield plan to include train station property; the authority unanimously approved it on April 9. The city council was first presented with the plan on April 12 and held a public hearing on May 10 before approving it this week.

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