By Sakiya Duncan
Old Town Lansing Times Staff Reporter
Old Town is expanding — businesswise, that is. There are now two new additions to the neighborhood, moving Old Town closer to full capacity.
There has been a recent sighting of two new businesses within Old Town. The Urban Beat Event center and Retail Therapy. While construction for The Urban Beat Event Center is underway, Retail Therapy is now open.
“We’ve taken Old Town from a 10 percent occupancy to a 90-plus percent occupancy, we’re running out of spaces,” said Sarah Christiansen is the owner of Katalyst located at 1214 Turner St. and is also a member of the Old Town business committee.
“We really want to start documenting different buildings that we can put businesses in that aren’t developed yet like some of the outer areas of Old Town,” Christiansen said.
Old Town is composed of an assortment of art galleries, restaurants and businesses.
Old Town’s business development committee is composed of business people in the community that come together to strengthen and grow the businesses in Old Town, Christiansen says.
“The OTCA (Old Town Commercial Association) looks at market studies and feedback from our existing businesses on how to actively recruit businesses to fill niches,” said Austin Ashley in an e-mail. Ashley is the executive director for the Old Town Commercial Association.
What are Old Town’s strategies to finding new businesses?
“Old Town is a popular market. We largely have businesses come to us, but we also collaborate with regional entities and rely on word of mouth,” said Ashley.
Said Christiansen: “The reason that I wanted to put my business here is because I have an art gallery. There are other art galleries here so I feel like people know that this is the place to come for art galleries.”
“We have a bunch of really awesome restaurants down here now and you just get clusters of businesses and people know you can come here for those type of things,” she said.
Summer Schriner is the Owner of Grace Boutique of Old Town. The boutique is located at 509 E. Grand River Ave. Schriner has been in Old Town for 9 years.
“I would never have gone anywhere else, this is the neighborhood that I know and love and they have been very supportive of my business,” said Schriner “It’s a really good neighborhood to invest in and I feel like it’s one of those neighborhoods when you invest in it, it invests in you.”
Aura Ozburn owner of October Moon Art Gallery and Boutique has been in business for 14 years. Ozburn could only describe Old Town in one phrase: “I love it.”
“The future growth of Old Town relies on the continued growth of our boundaries. I anticipate that as Old Town moves forward, our identity as the creative and cultural capital of Lansing will be supplemented with our growing restaurant market,” Ashley said.