All posts by Emily Dievendorf

SOCA Announces 2016 Spruce Up Grant Recipients!

The Saginaw-Oakland Commercial Association takes more steps to “Spruce Up” Lansing

Winners of the Saginaw-Oakland Commercial Association (SOCA) 2016 Spruce Up Grants were announced today. 2016 marks the second year of this exciting opportunity for businesses along the Saginaw-Oakland Corridor to “spruce up” the exterior of buildings with the help of grants distributed by SOCA. This year there were two kinds of grants available: two grants of $500 and one grant for $1000.

The $1,000 Spruce Up Grant was awarded to H. Inc for an ambitious project intended to landscape the hill between the railroad and Prudden Street along Oakland. The landscaping will require the removal of  weed brush and a re-working of the hill to allow for new plants and ornamental grasses.

Stephen Purchase of H Inc. shared his gratitude for the help SOCA offered stating, “H Inc. and the Prudden Tech Centre would like to thank SOCA for its generous contribution toward our efforts to beautify a key stretch of the Oakland corridor. We look forward to adding a splash of color to welcome commuters on their way downtown and to Lansing’s West Side.”

The two $500 grants were awarded to the Biggby at 2002 W. Saginaw, and the El Azteco at 1016 West Saginaw. Both Biggby and El Azteco intend to put the funds toward basic repairs and signage. They also expressed enthusiastic thanks for SOCA’s help in making Lansing’s Westside more beautiful.

Biggby owner, Paula Thompson had this to say about the award, “BIGGBY at the Point is thrilled to accept one of the Spruce Up Grants for 2016. We are proud of our success at the entrance to the Saginaw/Oakland Corridor for the past 9 years and we are honored that SOCA would partner with us to keep our property looking great!“

El Azteco owner, Bobbi London responded, “I’m really grateful for the investment SOCA is making in El Azteco! We have been honored to be a part of the Lansing community for nearly 35 years and are thrilled for the opportunity to make a restaurant Lansing already knows and loves even better.“

To qualify for Spruce Up Grants, and to benefit from the many other ways the Saginaw-Oakland Commercial Association supports local businesses along the corridor, you must be a current SOCA member. The online application for SOCA membership can be found here.

Point West Art and Trail Project Breaks Ground!

Fritz Olsen's artist's rendering of his sculpture, "Prosperity".
Fritz Olsen’s artist’s rendering of his sculpture, “Prosperity”.

The Saginaw Oakland Commercial Association (SOCA), Westside Neighborhood Association (WNA), and Old Oakland Neighborhood Association (OONA) hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the Point West Art and Trail Project today at 10:00am. The groundbreaking was held at “The Point”, where Saginaw meets Oakland, near 2010 W. Saginaw Street on Lansing’s west side. The Point West Art project’s official debut coincides with the recent news of SOCA’s selection of Fritz Olsen of Sawyer, MI, to build “Prosperity,” a 14-foot tall stainless steel sculpture representing a vision of optimism and growth for the Saginaw Street and Oakland Avenue corridor. The sculpture will be installed at the site this fall.

Speakers at the groundbreaking included partnering organization representatives from the Saginaw Oakland Commercial Association (SOCA), Westside Neighborhood Association (WNA), Old Oakland Neighborhood Association (OONA), Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Power of We Consortium, and Arts Council of Greater Lansing, as well as Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, Lansing Council Member Jessica Yorko, artist Fritz Olsen, community supporter Kris Nicholoff, and SOCA Board Members Joe Duris and Caryn Coyle.

The sculpture, Prosperity, will sit atop a base that raise it up as an eye-catching symbol, welcoming visitors and residents alike to the west Lansing business and residential district at the triangular piece of land at the western border of the city where Saginaw Street and Oakland Avenue meet. Prosperity will be surrounded by landscaping that will accentuate the art. The landscaping is being co-designed in consultation with Mr. Olsen by SOCA member business Landscape Architects and Planners, Inc.

Aerial view of the Point West Art and Trail Project.
Aerial view of the Point West Art and Trail Project.

Prosperity was inspired by the dramatic approach that travelers make into West Lansing as drivers and cyclists’ travel up Saginaw Street. “I was inspired by the dramatic approach of the ascending and curving roadways that define this space, the history and the optimism that is present here. The blossoming sails will reflect both the optimism for growth as well as the the ascending curving roadways that define the land. The circle will represents the welcoming nature and strength of the surrounding neighborhoods and communities,”explained the artist, Fritz Olsen, in his project proposal.

Vice President of SOCA Joe Duris said of the project: “The work our communities have done, and the support for this project from so many groups and individuals has been fantastic. It truly is just another example of why west Lansing is such a great place to live, work, and do business, and it’s amazing that we’ll have Fritz’s sculpture here to capture all of the energy and commitment. This is just another step toward creating a more beautiful, unified, and accessible Saginaw and Oakland corridor.

Caryn Coyle, SOCA board member said, “With the public art being installed this summer, the Point West Art and Trail project moves one step closer to it’s goal. While there are vibrant neighborhoods and businesses in the City of Lansing on the west side, there is no clear transition between the City of Lansing and Lansing Township. The art and trail will provide the City of Lansing with a gateway that neighbors and businesses can all celebrate.”

The art project, part of the larger Point West Art and Trail Project, was truly a community wide collaboration in both the planning and financial support that make it possible. It was funded by multiple grants and sources including generous individual and organizational donors, Cities of Service, Lansing Love Your Block, Mayor’s Neighborhood Advisory Board, the Lansing Area Economic Partnership (LEAP) Public Art for Placemaking grant, the Power of We Urban Redevelopment grant, a Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs mini-grant, and a Michigan Economic Development Corporation-backed Patronicity crowdfunding effort.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, who spoke at the press conference, afterward offered words of encouragement for Lansing as a whole, remarking,”This is phenomenal. It’s about neighbors taking ownership. It’s about the city government working in partnership, even followership, because this was an indigenous design. This was at the Grassroots level and bubbled up. This is the opposite of top down, and that’s why it’s going to work beautifully. So, we’re delighted to collaborate with the neighbors and the associations here. It’s just great to see the neighborhood take ownership like this. If we had this throughout the city we would be 100% stronger.”