Placemaking - Downtown East Lansing (Albert Ave)
A rising tide raises all ships.
Our goal is to showcase our support for one of several placemaking opportunities for downtown East Lansing. People are attracted to people, and local businesses are up against so many negative consumer perceptions when it comes to COVID, that we need creative ways to attract people safely and in numbers that help us keep our doors open. Its a delicate balance and this is but one approach to drive more foot traffic downtown East Lansing. Please consider supporting this iniatives and others to create places for people to visit and support all the surrounding local businesses in East Lansing. Details of the project are below:
Pilot Project Proposal
To support ongoing efforts to assist businesses with operating within COVID-19 regulatory requirements, and to provide the East Lansing community with opportunities to socialize safely, staff are proposing the closure of one lane (south lane) on Albert St between Fosters Coffee and Jolly Pumpkin for a duration of up to 8 weeks. The lane closure would be used as an alternative, beautified pedestrian walkway (pedlet) to allow adjacent businesses on the south side of Albert St. to expand their outdoor dining and seating area footprint. The pedlet would be designed in a way that adds to the vibrancy of the area and creates a greater sense of place.
No alcohol consumption within the pedlet is currently under consideration. The pedlet would simply act as an open, pedestrian only sidewalk that aligns with Place Project goals; specifically, the pedlet would help enhance the connectivity of other placemaking locations (https://arcg.is/1CPObH), as well as enhance the pedestrian experience. Staff continue to solicit input from adjacent businesses to assess the level of support for Albert St. closure concepts and what, if any, concerns they may have. Input has been collected through a variety of methodology, including phone calls, face to face visits, and surveys.
Design and Infrastructure Considerations
Barricades are needed to protect pedestrians from the open lane of traffic on Albert St. Feedback from last summer’s Outdoor Dining Area on Albert, and placemaking best practices, would require an alternative to orange barricades. To make the area more inviting and interesting, engage the community and local artists, and increase downtown foot traffic, staff are evaluating costs to beautify the area should the pilot project be approved. This includes programming for the purchase of concrete barriers that would also act as murals as part of a barrier beautification program (here is an example of Barrier Beautification programming staff is considering: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/urbanart_barrier_rfp.pdf).
A combination of existing Place Project whiskey barrels and the purchase of additional whiskey barrels would be required to implement another beautification strategy. Whiskey barrels can be modified to act as light posts for the installation of string lighting within the boundary of the pedlet. Sting lighting from the Downtown Underground Market would be used and attached to each whiskey barrel. Strategically placed, certain whiskey barrels would also act as a boundary for outdoor dining areas operated by adjacent and participating businesses – roping from the Market would be used for this purpose.
East Lansing Staff would also recommend purchasing multi-purpose and movable planters to install within the walkway of the pedlet and for future use should Place Project concepts become common practice in the future. Planter boxes should also be considered, along with plants, to further beautify the space. Finally, staff recommend budgeting for unique or interesting signage pointing to businesses and parking facilities impacted by alternative traffic routes and indicating they are open.Attached is a preliminary design concept.