By: Dana Johnson

This Fall, Lansing’s Eastside neighborhood will celebrate the completion of Allen Place, a community space offering mixed-income housing, a health clinic, social programming, and comprehensive wellness services to support local residents and the greater community.

The Allen Place campaign is being brought to life by Allen Neighborhood Center (ANC), a non-profit with a longstanding presence in the Eastside neighborhood. Throughout construction, ANC has continued to offer its numerous existing health and food-access programs. The new development will allow ANC to expand their offerings and fulfill additional needs in the community.

We’ve supported ANC for years, providing past Foundation grants to support their Comprehensive Food Resource Center and Food Hub and the GardenHouse in Hunter Park. In 2019, our Foundation provided a $100,000 grant to support the creation of Allen Place.

“Funding from a long-time supporter like the Consumers Energy Foundation was catalytic as we worked to create financing for the Allen Place development.  We so appreciate the enduring friendship and the early and generous gift from the Foundation,” said Joan Nelson, Director of Allen Neighborhood Center.

The development is coming to life at the revitalized Kircher Complex located at the 1600 Block of East Kalamazoo Street in Lansing. Two years ago, ANC purchased the building where the organization is housed. They partnered with local developer Cinnaire Solutions and although construction to expand and improve the existing building began a year ago, the project has been in development much longer.

“This project flows from 21 years of community relationship building,” said Nelson.

Throughout the organization’s history, they have engaged local residents and stakeholders in the creation and planning of their services, and Allen Place is no exception. Public sessions and warm weather canvasses consisting of door-to-door ‘front porch conversations’ have all been used to share information about the project and gather suggestions and concerns from neighbors. This approach helps to ensure their services reflect the needs of the community.

A primary aspect of the new development is the creation of 21 units of mixed-income, age-friendly housing. Through a series of community meetings, ANC gathered feedback on the type of residential offerings that would appeal to the local community. Feedback from seniors, many of whom live in aging 2-story homes, demonstrated a desire for an affordable and accessible residential option in the neighborhood with an emphasis on social interaction. Allen Place will feature a combination of market rate and affordable housing units for all age groups. Each unit is designed to accommodate age limitations with 2 units fully equipped with accessibility features.

When complete, the over 21,000 square feet of commercial space will provide several health, wellness, and food-access resources to the community. The Ingham County Health Department will be utilizing over 5,000 square feet to create a clinic offering medical and behavioral health services, filling a need in an area that has been identified as lacking in sufficient health services.

Additional resources will build upon ANC’s history of support for food entrepreneurship. Since 2014, 62 entrepreneurs have utilized their Incubator Kitchen to gain access to commercial kitchen resources and programming. In mid-March, the Accelerator Kitchen opened its doors at Allen Place to provide a desired intermediate step to entrepreneurs on their path to sole proprietorship.

A new Prep and Pack Kitchen sponsored by AF Group will support ANC’s popular Veggie Box program. Members of this multi-farm CSA program enroll seasonally to receive a weekly allotment of produce from local growers. This model puts fresh, locally-sourced produce into the hands of consumers, minimizes the administrative burden on suppliers, and strengthens the local food system.

Allen Place will also be the new home of Eastside Lansing Food Cooperative (ELFCO), a grocery that focuses on locally-sourced produce and food items.

ANC anticipates that Allen Place will fully open its doors this Fall.