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Go Green Trikes rolls out on Earth Day

Yvonne LeFave got rolling on her business while waiting for the bus in East Lansing.
 
"Traffic was backing up because of a delivery truck that had stopped to take in four loads of big boxes," says LeFave. "All of us at the bus stop were saying there had to be a better way."
 
LeFave set out to find it. Beginning Earth Day, LeFave will roll out Go Green Trikes—a local courier service for businesses that involves electric-assisted trikes. The trikes, LeFave says, are more nimble in traffic than many motorized vehicles and carry up to 600 pounds. Plus, they're quirky, eye-catching and fun.
 
"There's nothing else like them on the road," LeFave says.
 
LeFave's fleet of two can go up to 100 miles each at speeds of 15 miles per hour. The ELF—short for Electric, Lightweight and Fun—operates through pedaling and a solar-powered battery, and looks like a cross between a recumbent bike and a Smart car. Go Green's larger vehicle, the Truck Trike, resembles a small pickup truck on a bike frame and can carry up to 12 18-gallon totes.
 
Go Green's initial cargos will be made up of print items, food, and business-to-business supplies or products. And because it's Michigan, trikes will be on the road from April to November.
 
"I like green technology and the idea of living without a motorized vehicle," says LeFave, whose Quaker faith puts simplicity and stewardship top-of-mind. "I've wanted to show people what can be done without a car. And this does that."
 
Go Green Trikes will pedal between businesses in the East Lansing-Lansing downtown districts, Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. LeFave hopes to set up an office on Lansing's Eastside in the coming year, and to employ two or more part-time staff as trike couriers. For now, Go Green Trikes is reachable through her web site.
 
Interested in learning more about Go Green Trikes? LeFave invites the public to attend an open house on her first day of business: April 22 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Michigan Energy Options, 405 Grove Street, East Lansing. Both trikes and city officials from East Lansing and Lansing will be onsite. 
 
Source: Yvonne LeFave, President, Go Green Trikes
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor



Music lover brings vision from the road with amphitheater development

Bob Jordan spent 20 years on the road in the music business getting his start as a mixer for Fleetwood Mac. Now he's home with a vision to bring bands to mid-Michigan's backyard.
 
Along with business partner Cheryl McCullough, Jordan aspires to break ground this summer on a 15,000-seat outdoor music amphitheater in Windsor Township. Located on 100 acres just a quarter mile off I-69, the $20 million dollar project will be a state-of-the-art theater that gives music fans a local option for high-end musical acts from April through October. Slated to open in 2015, the Mid-Michigan Music Theater will create 250 seasonal and 75 annual jobs.
 
"Lansing needs this," says Jordan, a resident of Williamston Township. "It's hard to get to DTE, Van Andel, FireKeepers or Soaring Eagle during the week. People really want this here."
 
The Mid-Michigan Music Theater will feature national headliners as well as local and regional acts. The layout will feature plenty of big screens, a scalable stage for big or small acts, and ample ceiling height for large or elaborate shows. Opening plans for the inaugural season include a two-day festival showcasing mid-Michigan performers.
 
"We're also looking into the engineering of having a roof that can close over the fixed seating area, similar to a football stadium," says Jordan. "That way we can do events in the winter and not have to depend on the weather."
 
Jordan says the theater will give back to the community through fundraisers, food drives, and ticket giveaways to non-profit organizations. He also envisions awarding percentages of parking fees to groups that serve as attendants during events.
 
Jordan has his sights on building a "green" arena using Michigan contractors. He's also seeking LEED certification. A crowd funding campaign on the arena website is open to community members interested in contributing to or investing in the project.
 
"We're going to do as much to support the community as we can," says Jordan. "That's important to us."
 
Source: Bob Jordan, Mid-Michigan Music Theater
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Maybelle's Café and Sweets creates a gathering place, four jobs

When Amy Zander told her friends about her recent venture to open a café in Grand Ledge, they smiled and said it was a perfect fit.
 
"They said my house has always been the place where all of us want to gather because I'm a good host and always had good things to eat," says Zander. "That's my goal now."
 
Beginning May 3, Zander will open the doors to Maybelle's Café and Sweets at 214B S. Bridge Street. It's a dream she's had since high school and later reinforced when she and her husband managed a private hunting lodge and full-service kitchen in Northern Michigan.
 
Zander will move into the previous home of Sweet Linda's Café—a beloved bakery and sandwich shop that recently closed when the owner retired. She won't be straying much from the Sweet Linda's premise, Zander says, and will offer sandwiches, soups and salads, homemade baked goods, gourmet coffee and organic loose-leaf tea.
 
"One thing I am doing differently is I am going to be offering a gluten-free line of sandwiches and baked goods," says Zander. "And then there's my bubble bread."
 
Baked from a family recipe, bubble bread is a variation on the cinnamon roll and comes in several flavors. Any customer who can say 'bubble bread' correctly five times in a row will get a free sample.
 
"I'm planning to have a nice balance between some good sweet treats and healthy foods," says Zander. "That's how I like to eat. I like to eat healthy, but I also like to have a great brownie or cookie to balance it."
 
Zander is taking out a back wall to double her capacity, and configuring arrangements of tables and couches for cozy seating. She's also opening up an outdoor patio and garden area that will feature live music when the weather breaks.
 
"After this crazy winter, I'm really looking forward to sitting out there myself," she says.
 
Zander plans to hire up to four staff, and may also get occasional help from the budding chefs in her family, including her two kids and husband.
 
Source: Amy Zander, owner, Maybelle's Café and Sweets
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Bradly's Home and Garden moves to new digs, expands product lines

Bradly Rakowski and his staff had a cozy spot inside the old comfort station in Lansing's Old Town. But as business picked up for Bradly's Home and Garden, so did the need for space.
 
"When Brad and I opened up last March, this was a good size for just starting out," says Store Manager Troy Arient. "We wanted to keep things under control since Brad has a regular full-time job, and I was working full-time as a waiter."
 
But things changed. After just a few months in business, Arient and Rakowski realized the increasing potential for a shop that defined home living through carefully curated items.
 
"People loved our style and prices," says Arient. "After the holidays, we got a real good feel for how the shop was going."
 
That feeling led Rakowski and Arient to jump at the opportunity to move a few blocks west and across the Robert Busby Memorial Bridge to 117 E. Grand River. The shop will open April 28 after undergoing moderate renovations to accentuate the exposed brick, high ceilings and wood floors of the space that's nearly twice the size of their original store. And when their current neighbor relocates later this spring, Bradly's will double their size again by knocking in a door and joining the two spaces into one.
 
The new location will carry an expanded furniture line and home items that include accessories, candles, soaps and lotions, jewelry, and pieces for the garden. Glassworks by Craig Mitchell Smith Glass will also be retailed through Bradly's for the very first time.
 
"We're really excited about the new shop," says Arient. "We had no plans to leave our old space for at least two years, but when we saw that everything was just going so well and that the opportunity was there, we just reached out and grabbed it with both hands."
 
Arient recently came on full-time with the shop. Plans are to add one or two part-time staff in the coming year.
 
Source: Troy Arient, Store Manager, Bradly's Home and Garden
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Entrepreneur follows fashion sense, opens new East Lansing boutique

Devon Bradley turned her passion for fashion into a long-time dream when she opened Belle Row Boutique in East Lansing last December.
 
"I've always wanted to own my own business," says Bradley whose parents were both entrepreneurs in Jackson, Mich. "The idea for a clothing boutique didn't come until I did a lot of online shopping, took a trip to New York, and found that a lot of newer trends weren't finding their way into Lansing."
 
Belle Row Boutique, Bradley says, is a trendy women's clothing shop that includes plush staples and premium denim lines mixed with sweet dresses. An eclectic mix of shoes and accessories rounds out the selection of exclusive, feminine looks at affordable prices.
 
Bradley works with fashion vendors to hand select every item in the 1,050-square foot shop at 3320 E. Lake Lansing Road. She buys nothing in bulk and typically only purchases two of each size. Items range from accessories to coats, and from sweaters to dresses. Once items are sold, Bradley says, they are not re-ordered.
 
"We want the clothing and the experience to be unique," says Bradley. "And for our customers to have something unique at a good price."
 
Seventy-five percent of the boutique is priced from $20 to $80, with the majority of items made in the U.S. Bradley complements the affordable shopping experience with other services, including a glass of wine, home delivery, private appointments, or allowing groups to reserve the shop for a "girls night out" or other fashion-related events.
 
"I want to offer a place where you can come in, try out trendier fashions and see if it's the right look for you," says Bradley. "Having my store here lets me offer you a better price. Plus, you don't have to pay for shipping."
 
Bradley plans to hire one to two staff in the coming year. She is also looking to showcase aspiring designers from fashion merchandising and design programs at Michigan State University and Lansing Community College, as well as clothing from area designers.
 
Source: Devon Bradley, Owner, Belle Row Boutique
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Leaf branches out to new Okemos location, creates nine jobs

Although Leaf Salad Bar opened its Frandor location just eight months ago, the need to branch out was apparent within weeks.
 
"It took off so fast that I had to look for a second location almost immediately," says co-owner Mark Sprinkel. "We found an Okemos location that attracts a solid lunch market, and we have more than ample parking."
 
Sprinkel opened the doors on the 1,300-square foot restaurant in mid-March, serving 40 inside and 10 on an outdoor patio when weather permits. The Woodland Square location at 2319 Jolly Road has already attracted a steady following for the gourmet salad bar that offers a healthy alternative for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
 
With a staff of nine and the culinary prowess of chef Phil Bopka, the Okemos venue mirrors the format of Lansing location by allowing patrons to weigh and pay for their own salads created from more than 100 gourmet toppings. Leaf also serves soups, fruits and smoothies, bringing what Sprinkel says, is a new option for a fresh, fast and healthy lunch every day.
 
"You can be creative and have a chopped salad one day, an Italian the next," says Sprinkel. "Or you can make a fruit salad. People are starting to come in for breakfast smoothies, too."
 
Sprinkel and his business partner Igor Jurkovic of Restaurant Mediteran are looking to expand their catering horizons, including wheel-in salad bars at off-site events.
 
"Right now our catering is all pick-up," says Sprinkel. "We're also looking into opening locations in Detroit and East Grand Rapids, and hope to franchise the business."
 
Source: Mark Sprinkel, Owner, Leaf Salad Bar
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Center for Business Innovation enters strategic partnership, strengthens cloud services

When you hear the word 'cloud' associated with Lansing, you can start thinking of something aside from the city's reputation as one of the nation's most overcast cities.
 
In mid-March, a Michigan managed technology service provider headquartered in Lansing announced a new partnership to offer Microsoft Office 365 services to businesses and organizations. By pairing with AppRiver—a software-as-service organization—the Center for Business Innovation will build on 14 years of cloud computing experience by becoming an authorized reseller for Office 365.
 
"We're excited to partner with AppRiver for our Office 365 service offerings," says Douglas Horne, CBI technology services director. "Our partners will not only receive anywhere access to the latest version of Microsoft applications, but will also have access to the CBI Partner Care Center for personable, technical support."
 
The CBI provides business-to-business cloud, networking, imaging and professional services to thousands of customers across Michigan and the Midwest. The new partnership with AppRiver is an extension of CBI's cloud services in the mobility market.
 
"People are wanting to work on phones and tablets and from coffee shops and homes," says Katie Saglimbene, CBI marketing and communications director. "The new service and software will serve the workforce more from the mobility aspect."
 
Saglimbene says that CBI provides technical support for nearly 2,000 customers. The same will hold true for the new partnership with AppRiver when customers need to resolve issues related to the use of Office 365.
 
"It's easier for our partners to call us than to try and call Microsoft directly," she says. "We can provide that personal relationship and level of support that you might not get from a big conglomerate."
 
CBI has regional offices in Lansing, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Southfield, Flint and Saginaw. About 45 people work in the Lansing office, with potential to add more trained specialists to service Office 365.
 
Source: Katie Saglimbene, Marketing and Communications Director, Center for Business Innovation
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Baker whips it up in Old Town with custom cakes and made-from-scratch sweets

Randy Umfleet moved his two-year-old bakery from DeWitt to Old Town just in time for bridal season.
 
"We have lots of brides-to-be come in for cake consultations," says the owner of Whipped, Old Town's newest bakery on 1216 Turner Street. "That's usually in April, May, June, July and into September. Then we sometimes go all over the place to deliver those cakes—from Mackinac Island to Virginia."
 
Umfleet specializes in cakes, but isn't shy about mentioning his full-line of made-from-scratch cookies. Homemade cinnamon rolls, Danishes, cheesecakes and muffins also go well with a cup of brew from the soon-to-be-developed coffee area.
 
All baking and cake decorating is done onsite in the more than 1,000-square foot shop that can seat about 20 people.
 
"People come in all the time with special requests," says Umfleet of the customers who bring in pictures or drawings or concepts they want to see on a cake. "We try our darnedest to meet them."
 
Umfleet had operated his bakery from a shopping center in DeWitt since September 2012, but made the move to Old Town for increased visibility and sense of place.
 
"Adding staff is going to be a definite must as I get lots of foot traffic," say Umfleet who employs five part-time staff. "I'm also looking to continue to build my special orders as more people hear about us."
 
Source: Randy Umfleet, Owner, Whipped
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Soup Spoon Cafe adds space, expands service options

Nick Gavrilides is all about good food. He's also all about ensuring the best experience for his guests.
 
Those two factors,  Gavrilides says, are behind the recent expansion of the Soup Spoon Cafe at 1419 E. Michigan Ave. on Lansing's East Side.
 
"That and we could always use a little more storage space," says the owner and chef of the seven-year-old restaurant. "It can get a little cramped in here sometimes."
 
In late March, Gavrilides started reconstructing an adjoining space that used to house Bancroft Flowers. With expected completion by mid- May, the Soup Spoon addition will accommodate up to 30 guests, bringing the restaurant's total capacity to 100 diners for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Gavrilides says that while connected to the original footprint, the new space is ideal for private receptions and parties, as well as for accommodating larger groups.
 
While his primary motive is to offer more seating and cut down on wait times, Gavrilides says the expansion will also foster growth on the catering side—something the Soup Spoon has not done except on a small scale.
 
"I'm just excited to be able to serve more people, and to feel confident that they can get in, have a good lunch, and get back to work on time," says Gavrilides. "I'm also excited about expanding our catering offerings and to get the show on the road."
 
Since opening in the early 2000s, the Soup Spoon has built a healthy following through a menu that features six soups, world cuisine, craft beers, and locally roasted coffee. All items are reasonably priced, with per plate costs ranging from $5 to $29.
 
Gavrilides says he will be adding two new staff immediately and possibly up to five depending on public reception.
 
"If our catering needs go wild, we'll be in a position to offer more opportunity," he says.
 
Source: Nick Gavrilides, Owner and Chef, The Soup Spoon Cafe
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Spartan Marching Band, community to march onto new MSU field come fall

With spring allegedly sprung, it's hard to imagine a sports field free of mud and ruts where people can walk, run or march without having to watch every step.
 
But dreams do come true.
 
As soon as the ground thaws, Michigan State University will break ground on a new turf field, gridded for Spartan Marching Band practice as well as for intramurals, summer sports camps, kinesiology courses, and other community activities. The artificial turf field will replicate a well-tended stadium—complete with a moderate size grandstand for spectators and a teaching tower that provides a bird's eye view.
 
"The most important thing is that the artificial surface of the new field will allow students to perform more consistently," says MSU Spartan Band Director John Madden. "It takes our band about three days to wear down our current natural grass field near Demonstration Hall. We're finally able to give students the surface a Big 10 marching band needs."
 
Madden says the new field will also strengthen the draw and improve the comfort and visibility for spectators who attend the practices.
 
"Currently, the Spartan Marching Band rehearsal is a public happening," says John Madden, director of the MSU Spartan Marching Band. "Bleachers are set up and busses drop people off. It's quite popular with parents and kids."
 
Madden says he's seen an uptick over his 25-year teaching career at MSU in the number of K-12 schools that make field trips to see his Big 10 band. Part of that growth, he says, can be traced to MSU music education alumni who have gone on to teach and see the value of their students seeing a marching band practice.
 
"It's quite a vibrant educational atmosphere," says Madden who explains that the band practice is part of a class he teaches through the MSU College of Music. "It's amazing for people to see how our shows come together."
 
The new field and seating gallery is expected to be ready for the 2014 practice season and will be located just south of the Munn Arena. The $1.3 million project was made possible through a $1 million grant from the Forest H. Akers Trust and a $300,000 commitment from Ed and Wanda Eichler.
 
Source: John Madden, Director of the Spartan Marching Band, Michigan State University College of Music
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Massage Green expands to Lansing, creates 10 jobs

Allie Mallad came upon his idea for Massage Green Spa while jogging. That 'ah ha' moment, he says, changed his life as well as the lives of thousands of others involved in the growing franchise.
 
"We believe that franchising a Massage Green Spa is the best way for individuals to launch their American Dream of owning a business," says Mallad, founder and president. "It allows them to be in business for themselves, but not by themselves."
 
Headquartered in Farmington Hill, Mich., Massage Green opened its first Lansing franchise in Frandor in February 2014. The new spa reflects its name through the use of environmentally friendly lotions, oils, and chemical-and preservative-free facial products. Table linens and towels are eco-washed, with facilities featuring low consumptive lighting, high efficiency systems, and eco-conscious construction.
 
The spa is about 4,000 square feet and includes a tranquility room, quiet room, private couples suite, several single massage and treatment rooms, two upscale restrooms, and a lobby and reception area. The spa also includes multiple tranquil water features throughout.  Massage Green Spa invested more than $250,000 to bring the Frandor space up to franchise standards, and employs 10 people.
 
A native of Detroit, Mallad began his 30-year career washing dishes for less than $1 an hour. He saved enough money as a flight attendant to buy his own business, and rose to become the largest Little Caesars franchisee in the world. After managing 10 national franchise brands, Mallad launched Massage Green in 2008 in Dearborn, Mich. Today, the company has more than 50 locations in six states, with plans to grow to 100 in 10 states by the end of 2014.   
 
"We've always had our eye on Lansing as the state capital with big dreams for the state of Michigan," says Mallad. "Our hopes are to eventually have three locations in Lansing, and to add to the 750 people we currently employ across the state."
 
Source: Allie Mallad, Founder and President, Massage Green Spas
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Black Cat Bistro brings sophisticated dining, 30 jobs to East Lansing

Two area restaurateurs looking to fill a niche in East Lansing are working together to transform a small retail space into a grand venue for sophisticated dining.
 
Beginning in late April, Los Tres Amigos' Arnulfo Ramirez and Georgio's Pizza's Thomas Alimonos will open the doors on the Black Cat Bistro at 115 Albert Street. The 2,000-square foot restaurant will be a partnership between the two entrepreneurs and will feature upscale, modern American cuisine in a fine dining atmosphere.
 
"Arnulfo and Thomas met as local business owners here," says Lorely Polanco, marketing director for the Black Cat Bistro. "They were interested in each other's approach to business, and they both had the idea of opening a fine dining establishment in East Lansing that could compete with destinations in Eastwood. They just clicked."
 
Polanco says the interior of the restaurant will strike a balance between simplicity and sophistication through dark leather booths, art deco walls, and wrought iron chandeliers. Nearly 80 diners will be able to enjoy indoor table service, while an outdoor patio adjacent to an East Lansing park will seat up to 30 guests.
 
Diners at the Black Cat can enjoy appetizers like bistro fries or peanut crusted goat cheese fritters, or salads like toasted almond and avocado or shaved asparagus and arugula. Main courses start at $11 up to $23 and include char-grilled skirt steak, mango and mustard glazed lake trout, mushroom strudel, and other dishes created by Executive Chef Jose Romero. Desserts favor cheesecakes, torts, ganache-filled oreos and a traditional Valencia rice pudding in a crispy almond cookie.
 
"Our menus is small but unique," says Polanco of the restaurant that will create about 30 jobs. "We'll have some local dishes that will feature local products, too."
 
Source: Lorely Polanco, Marketing Director for the Black Cat Bistro
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Zoobie's launches expansion, add foods, space and new jobs to popular tavern

A whimsical mix of the 1960s space race, coal-fired pizza and mid-century décor are fueling the expansion of a popular bar and restaurant in Old Town.
 
But that's not all that's driving the owners of Zoobie's Old Town Tavern at 611 E. Grand River Ave. to more than double its size by repurposing a vacant lot and pizza place next door.
 
"Our customers inspired us," says co-owner Sam Short of launching into the next phase of the business he operates with Aaron Matthews and Alan Hooper. "We had such a welcoming reception from Lansing, and the only real point we heard was that people wanted us to add food and a kitchen."
 
Short says it made sense to expand to the west and start a new pizza venture called The Cosmos Wood-Fired Pizza on the former site of Poppa Leo's. The half-million dollar plan involves refurbishing the pizzeria, connecting the two buildings via an addition, expanding the outdoor patio, and creating an eye-catching façade that includes a faux spaceship and cosmic mural. Local architect Ken Jones of Studio Intrigue and contractor Mike Reid from Capitol Mechanical are also involved bringing the concept down to earth.
 
"We're going to get started as soon as it thaws," says Short. "Our first order of business is paving the lots that took a winter beating, and then doing the groundwork."
 
Expected to open this June, The Cosmos will feature thin crust, Naples style pizza made in a wood-fire oven. Johnson and Wales trained chef Don Konopnicki will also create a small plate menu for both sides of the business. Short says that The Cosmos will locally source the wood for the pizza stove, and that menu items will feature fresh herbs from Zoobie's patio garden as the seasons allow.
 
The 1,500-square foot expansion will double Zoobie's interior space, while the patio will grow from an existing 55 to about 100 feet. About 10 new staff will be added once the 25-seat Cosmos is up and running.
 
"We're glad to be part of the local, creatively-driven businesses of Old Town," says Short. "Everything here is true Lansing. That's why we want to stay here and grow and create these fun options."
 
Zoobies and The Cosmos are exploring options for an exterior mural on the expanded tavern. Interested artists are welcome to email Sam Short via Zoobie's website for more details.

Source: Sam Short, co-owner, Zoobie's Old Town Tavern
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Mid-Michigan native applies brew master credentials to new Williamston microbrewery

Something's brewing in Williamston.
 
Starting in April, a developer with local roots will begin transforming the former home of the Williamston police and public works departments into a microbrewery and brewpub. When opened this fall, the soon-to-be-named venue will brew, sell and bottle more than a dozen types of beer on-site using equipment and ingredients sourced from Michigan.
 
"This will be the largest project we've worked on," says Travis Fritts, developer and partner in the Detroit Beer Company. "I've been trying to get back to Mid-Michigan for years. It feels like a good fit for Williamston and a good fit for me and my family."
 
Fritts grew up in Dimondale and followed his wanderlust to Germany. He knocked around taking food science courses at the Technical University of Berlin, and then began training at the university's institute for brewing: The VLB. Returning home with master brewing credentials, Fritts went to work for Webberville's Michigan Brewing Company before relocating to Detroit.
 
Fritts has longed to bring his stouts, pilsners, lagers and other inspired craft beers to Williamston. When he heard talk of the two-story industrial facility being up for sale, he made plans and presented his vision for an old world style pub and brewery to city leaders.
 
"It's a brewery, but we're concerned about good food, too," says Fritts. "The word 'pub' infers a meeting place for family and friends. We want to go for the café sort-of-feel."
 
The 25,00-square foot facility at 1500 W. Grand River will accommodate a 3,000 square-foot restaurant with 85 indoor seats and up to 15 on an outdoor patio. The remainder of the space will become production facilities and offices.  
 
Fritts will be acquiring brew tanks and related production equipment from Craftwerk Brewing Systems, an equipment manufacturer in Clarkson, Mich. He is also rebuilding a bottling line from a plant in Inkster that will be moved up to the Williamston facility come summer. The facility, he says, will create about 20 jobs between the restaurant, production and administration.
 
Source: Travis Fritts, Developer and Owner, upcoming Williamston microbrewery and pub
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Gatehouse Suites morphs to student housing as The Hub moves in

The inventory of loft style and studio apartments targeting college students will increase by more than 100 units when Gatehouse Suites changes over to The Hub starting in July.
 
Collegiate Housing Services purchased the residential-style lodging operation at 1600 E. Grand River Ave. as the company's first venture in the Michigan State University market.
 
"We're always scouting the country to see what's available," says James Crosetti, vice president of operations for the Indianapolis-based housing service. "Our niche is to offer low-cost options for students that are comfortable and close to campus."
 
Crosetti says Collegiate Housing recently began working with a West Coast company that specializes in converting extended stay hotels in living options for students. The Hub, he says, will offer 44 studio apartments and 64 loft apartments based on the current floor plans of the Gatehouse Suites.
 
Studio apartments can accommodate one or two students, with two-story loft apartments housing up to three. Each student, he says, signs an individual lease for a share of a fully furnished apartment, with Internet, cable and all utilities included except telephone. Other on-site amenities include a pool fitness center, laundry facilities, a computer center, and a lounge area.
 
Crosetti says Collegiate Housing will be upgrading common areas and laundry facilities, and will replace existing furniture as needed.
 
"The location is great," says Crosetti. "It's going to be a very affordable and convenient location."
 
The Hub will create five new jobs, including an on-site manager, one to two maintenance people, and two- to three- resident assistants.
 
Source: James Crosetti, Vice President of Operations, Collegiate Housing Services
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor
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