#WalkingWednesday with SOCA (Saginaw Oakland Commercial Association)

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Another #WalkingWednesday filled with stories of the past & ideas for the future mixed with coffee, snow, great people, walking, & beer.

Our host was Rory Neuner, Director of the Saginaw Oakland Commercial Association https://www.facebook.com/SOCALansing and we were looking at the far western edge of the area this organization serves.

First stop was Biggby Coffee http://www.biggby.com/index.php at 2002 W. Saginaw, one of the top performing Biggby franchises in the whole company.  While the interior seating is limited in this location, entryways from both Saginaw & Oakland make for easy use of the drive-thru which was busy during our entire visit.  The Biggby staff was hopping the whole time and happy to tell us that their store was among the top 25 last month in company sales last month.  Go Lansing!

Biggby staff get us ready for the weather with some hot java

Biggby staff get us ready for the weather with some hot java

We headed out to check out “The Point” a triangular plot of land bordered by Saginaw, Oakland, and Stanley as you enter the City of Lansing limits from the west.  The community is dreaming of an upgrade to this entry point which could beautify the entryway and provide some traffic calming features.

Looking west toward "The Point" currently only marked by the small wood sign.  Neighbors would like a grander, more welcoming entrance to the city.

Looking west toward “The Point” currently only marked by the small wood sign. Neighbors would like a grander, more welcoming entrance to the city that communicates the vibrancy of the surrounding neighborhoods.

A feature of this stretch of Saginaw is the protected bike lane which heads all the way east to the River Trail.  This is one of the few protected bike lanes in Michigan.

Connecting neighbors to the River Trail and Downtown Lansing.

Connecting neighbors to the River Trail and Downtown Lansing.

We then headed slightly east and noted the existing businesses along the corridor including car sales, a Famous Taco, and others.  The Irish Pub building continues to undergo renovations and the neighborhood anxiously awaits its return to business.  The latest Facebook about post about progress was on June 2, 2014 https://www.facebook.com/IrishPubLansing I would love to give an update if anyone in the know can post to comments or contact me!

Irish Pub was purchased approx 2 years ago.  The neighborhood is anxious for this local favorite to reopen.

Irish Pub was purchased approx 2 years ago. The neighborhood is anxious for this local favorite to reopen.

We were then off to Harry’s Pub.  We headed through the neighborhood which once was home to Verlinden Elementary, a beautiful building which continues to serve children and families as Scribbles and Giggles Child Care http://www.scribblesandgiggleschildcare.com/ and the hulking Fisher Body Plant, which now stands as an empty field with the remnants of the plant foundations.

 

Foundation of the former Fisher Body Plant from the north.  The neighborhood looks forward to its redevelopment someday.

Foundation of the former Fisher Body Plant from the north. The neighborhood looks forward to its redevelopment someday.

 

 

Scribbles and Giggles had a full playground of children out enjoying the snow.  Heard the giggles loud & clear!

Scribbles and Giggles had a full playground of children out enjoying the snow. Heard the giggles loud & clear!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The surrounding neighborhood is served by the Westside Neighborhood Association http://wnalansing.com/, one of Lansing’s best organized and most active neighborhood associations.  Neighbors organize events, community wide garage sales, and neighborhood cleanups.  Their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/WestsideNeighborhoodAssociation/ has 915 members and their neighborhood pride is evident throughout the entire area.

We headed down Verlinden Ave to Harry’s Place, which once served the workers at Fisher Body.  Since the plant closing, the neighborhood has rallied to support Harry’s.  An old (2011) but good background story can be found at http://www.lansingcitypulse.com/lansing/article-5625-harryrss-place-changes-with-the-times.html.  I’d suggest stopping in and talking to anyone there for more details as the staff & regulars are happy to share.  Owners Harea & Hugh Bates continue to grow the business with a combination of great food and hospitality.  Hugh told us business continues to rebound and said that he used to only roll 18 rolls of silverware for the lunch “rush” and that was plenty.  Now, he’s rolling 125+ and going through them all. I had more than one patron tell me it’s the best pizza in town.   It’s worth a trip just to meet Hugh and hear about the history of the neighborhood and Harry’s–he was born to run a great neighborhood joint and I’m glad he found his way to that career after retiring from GM.

Hugh Bates (L) and Rory Neuner of the Saginaw Oakland Commercial Association

Hugh Bates (L) and Rory Neuner of the Saginaw Oakland Commercial Association

A Westside treasure

A Westside treasure

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