Lansing Mayor Andy Schor gave his second State of the City address Feb. 6 at the Riverwalk Theatre. At the time of the address, it had been a year and a month since Schor took office, and he expressed excitement over all that had happened in that year and looked at the ways Lansing is ready to take on the future.
Schor began by highlighting some of his favorite moments of the past year. Some of those included announcing a number of developments like a Meijer-sponsored urban grocer, hotel, and housing in downtown Lansing; bringing Michigan’s only professional soccer team, Lansing Ignite, to the city; and announcing a number of major housing and mixed-use projects on both the south and east sides of Lansing.
Schor dug into the many economic development opportunities across the city by reminding the audience of his mantra over the last year, “Lansing’s time is now.” From the $41.5 million dollar Meijer project, to finally beginning work on the long-vacant Oliver Towers, Schor highlighted the downtown projects that “are just the beginning of our capacity building for people to live in and enjoy Lansing’s downtown.”
Schor highlighted the fact that many of the economic development projects underway are the result of the community bringing ideas to him, which is why so many of the projects, like a new town square and the Beacon Field Southwest outdoor soccer field project on the southside, focus on community building.
“In order to keep this great growth momentum going, I am announcing that the city will send out a request for proposals for many city-owned parcels over the next few months so that we can activate some of our city-owned open space,” he said.
Another area of focus was Lansing’s corridors.
“In my budget last year, we increased funding for corridor façade grants from $15,000 to $150,000, enabling local businesses to enhance their storefronts and increase traffic,” which resulted in improvements to various storefronts throughout Lansing, Schor explained. “Corridors are the backbone of commercial activity and the front door to our neighbors.”
Schor also stressed that simply developing the city isn’t enough and spoke about projects happening in Lansing neighborhoods.
“We must have great neighborhoods and places for our residents,” he said. “My first executive order created our new Department of Neighborhoods and Citizen Engagement, which focuses its efforts on engaging Lansing residents and using what we learn to drive decision-making.”
To reflect the city’s vibrant cultural community, the mayor said, “I created the Mayor’s Arts and Culture Commission last spring. This commission … has been working over the last six months to get its arms around where gaps exist in our arts and culture community.
“Public art is an expression of the creativity of our community, a powerful economic development tool, and will be a big part of our strategy to grow and sell the city of Lansing,” Schor added, noting that last month, the city announced $140,000 in Lansing art grants to fund art projects in the city.
As a result of last year’s Road Map Neighborhood Tour in each ward of the city, Schor said: “We developed a roads plan that provides digital maps with transparent data about street repairs and funding. This roads plan is on the city website and shows all of the roads that have been fixed in the last few years, as well as the thousands of potholes that have been filled. It also shows the work that will be done on roads moving forward.”
To go beyond roads, Schor highlighted the technology and techniques the city is using to fix sidewalks and reduce trip hazards.
Schor addressed the challenges the city still needs to face in regard to its financial situation. He highlighted plans to address long-term pension and health care liabilities using the state-required corrective action plan.
“We can’t ignore this problem, and we appreciate the diverse voices and advice from the members of our financial health team,” he said.
Other highlights of the speech included the addition of new parking apps for downtown meters, tremendous job growth, and the introduction of programs like Grow with Google and the eBay Retail program.
Schor looked to the future by announcing a new logo for Lansing and a new vision plan called Lansing 2030. This plan will address three main areas: Lansing’s existing employment opportunities, city design and diversifying living options. You can learn more about the plan at lansingforward.com.
“Lansing’s time is now: 2018 was an exceptional year, and I am thrilled to kick off 2019 with a positive vision and campaign,” he said.