Clara’s Lansing Station to Gain New Life as a Starbucks Community Store


LANSING – Renovations to a historic train station on East Michigan Avenue, which once housed Clara’s Lansing Station, are set to begin next week to make way for the building’s first tenant in five years – a Starbucks community store.

The Seattle-based coffee company signed a lease to occupy about 2,800 square feet in the west half of the building, said Pat Gillespie, president of the Gillespie Group, which owns the property.

A Starbucks spokesperson confirmed the company’s plan to open a store there in an email Tuesday night.

The new location, Starbucks’ first community store in Michigan, is slated to open next fall.

By the time he does, Gillespie said his business aims to rehabilitate and occupy the entire building.

In total, the 120-year-old building, which served as a train station until 1972, will receive a new roof, windows, floors, plumbing and electrical and a restored exterior as well as landscaping and decks. patios.

“We really want to make it more attractive to people,” Gillespie said.

Starbucks plans for the community store

Starbucks takes an interest in the historic building at 637 E. Michigan Ave. since early 2020, Gillespie said, and bringing one of the company’s community stores to the property is a perfect choice.

Clara's old building pictured Tuesday August 24, 2021 on East Michigan Avenue in Lansing.  The property is being renovated by the Gillespie Group.

Since 2015, the company has opened 21 community stores in the United States, as part of an initiative to open a total of 100 by 2025.

Community stores are often located in low-income communities with high unemployment rates, according to the company’s website, and the company partners “with local nonprofits to facilitate relevant community programs. “.

Stores also include “a hall or designated space for community events and programming.”

“That’s what really gets us excited is that it’s not just a normal Starbucks,” Gillespie said. “It has an added flair for diving into the community and celebrating the history of the community.”

The store will have a steering wheel control lane located near Pere Marquette Drive, Gillespie said, and an outdoor patio that can accommodate up to 30 people.

Starbucks intends to incorporate the building’s history into the plans they have for the store, he said.

“When their architects came and looked at the building and they were pretty excited about it, they got us excited just because they saw the possibilities of what an old building can be,” Gillespie said. “They were looking to play with it, not just ignore it.”


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Room for a second tenant

The Gillespie Group will renovate the remaining half of the building into a second suite which will include the property’s train car. Together, it offers just over 4,000 square feet of space.

The interior of Clara's Lansing Station diner is shown in a Lansing State Journal file photo.

The goal, said Gillespie, is to find a tenant who will provide the community with access to the rest of the building.

Office and catering businesses have expressed interest, he said.

“We’re actively marketing it and having some good conversations with some prospects right now, but nothing is set in stone,” Gillespie said.

Additional patio space will be created on the property overlooking Michigan Avenue.

“Then we are planning at least one pocket park along Michigan Avenue where there will be some greenery, flowers and benches,” Gillespie said.

Fences along the property are expected to increase this week, he said, and work inside the building will likely begin next week.

Contact Rachel Greco at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @GrecoatLSJ.

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