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Convert Capitol Avenue Week in Downtown Lansing Photo by Michigan Municipal League
Image by Michigan Municipal League (MML)
Capitol Avenue in downtown Lansing traverses some of the most important buildings in Michigan, including the state’s Capitol, Lansing City Hall and sky rises containing offices of state legislators.
It’s often the location of marches, parades and rallies. Despite all that, the one-way, six-lane-wide Capitol Avenue is clearly for cars, not people. However, a group of placemaking-focused individuals, led by the Michigan Municipal League, is hoping to change that.
The League, in partnership with the City of Lansing and Downtown Lansing, Inc., is organizing “Convert Capitol Avenue Week”—a series of activities and events July 27-31 to show how a lively, interactive, people-focused street can happen on Capitol Avenue.
“We’ve been studying Capitol Avenue for a while for its potential as a valuable public space in downtown,” said Samantha Harkins, President of the Michigan Municipal League Foundation. “This Convert Capitol Avenue Week is to help get the conversation started about how Capitol Avenue can become the heart of downtown Lansing’s public space.”
Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero said the city has made tremendous improvements to Washington Square’s business district to make it more attractive and pedestrian-friendly, and it makes sense to also focus on Capitol Avenue as one of the city’s premiere public spaces.
“The Michigan Capitol Building is a great anchor institution, and people often drive by without a glance because the road is designed to move traffic quickly through the area rather than accommodating walking, biking and expanded public use of the surrounding spaces,” Bernero said. “It can feel intimidating for people to cross Capitol Avenue from City Hall to the Capitol, and I believe we’re missing an opportunity to capitalize on this area. Convert Capitol Avenue Week will help people see the tremendous possibilities for making this key part of our community a more accessible and welcoming public gathering spot.”
Harkins said the League is taking the lead on this street project because of its potential, its high visibility to state lawmakers and decision makers, and the fact that the League’s Lansing office is located along Capitol Avenue in the Christman Building at 208 N. Capitol. Making Capitol Avenue more pedestrian and community friendly also is in line with the League’s long-time focus to create places that people love.
Activities planned for July 28-31 include a temporary street transformation of Capitol Avenue between Ottawa and Allegan streets. The west driving lane and parking lane will be closed to vehicle traffic to show how the street can better meet the diverse transportation needs of walkers, bikers and drivers.
Additional events planned are:
July 28 and July 29 – Park(ing) Days: Community partners will transform parking spaces into fun, creative parklets for enjoyment by the public.
July 30 – Farmers Market: A thriving marketplace that showcases Michigan food and agricultural products will set up shop on the east lawn of the Capitol Building.
July 31 – Fitness Friday: The Capitol lawn will spring to life with active recreation in the form of a yoga class and lawn games.
For additional information contact Samantha Harkins at email@example.com, 517-908-0306, or the League’s Derek Tisler at firstname.lastname@example.org, 517-908-0302. Check out the Convert Capitol Avenue webpage for details and the latest updates: placemaking.mml.org/convert-capitol-ave/.