A New Lease on Life

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BY CAMERON VREDEVELD

LANSING STAR STAFF WRITER

LANSING—The outside panels are torn and the inside is gutted, but the future has never been so promising for Knapp’s Centre.

Remodeling on the building that was once J.W. Knapp’s Department Store began in December, and is starting to show signs of progress. “Everything is coming along nicely,” said Nick Eyde, the project developer.

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Demolition on the building, which was placed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1983, started in December.

“There are always going to be some surprises along the way,” said Eyde. “However, demolition went about as smooth as it could have gone.”

In mid-February, workers began stripping the building of its iconic blue and yellow ceramic exterior wall tiles. An Eyde Company spokesman said that exterior construction will likely be completed by mid-summer.

By early March the crew started on the interior construction. Removing interior walls and rerouting the plumbing are just two of the early measures taken.

The $36 million renovation aims to bring new business and a new look to a familiar Lansing landmark, said Eyde. The 190,000 square foot building will have retail stores and restaurants on the first floor, office space on the second, third and fourth floors, and 22 up-scale apartments on the fifth floor.

Built in 1937, J.W. Knapp’s Department Store brought an iconic look to Washington Square until it closed in 1980. The building was bought in 1982 by Eyde Company, which converted the property into office space, mostly for state workers. By 2002, the building, renamed ‘Knapp’s Centre,’ was completely vacant because??? .

The Art Deco style is something Eyde says the company plans to embrace during the re-building.

“For a lot of folks, that building is a vital part of Lansing’s history,” said Eyde.

The floors, previously filled with dust and darkness, are now filled with busy workers, and ear-piercing jackhammers. For many Lansing citizens, it is music to their ears.

“I’m just glad someone is willing to take a chance on a building that has been a part of this area for so long,” said 67-year-old Monty Lewis, who says he walks past the building nearly every day.

A spokesman for the Eyde Company said that construction brought nearly 200 jobs to Lansing. He also said that some office space has already been leased, a good sign for a project that was planned during a time of economic unrest in the Lansing area.

Knapp’s Centre construction is expected to be completed in late fall.

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