The Walnut Park Apartments project is an affordable housing apartment complex that will be built on the campus of the former Michigan School for the Blind.
Dozens gathered on site Thursday morning to hear remarks from Mayor Virg Bernero, the Whitsett Group development team, and other stakeholders, and to watch demolition begin on the auditorium.
Once finished, the 12.5 million dollar project will include eight market-rate and 64 affordable housing units, as well as community room, business center, fitness room, outdoor playground and a Lansing Police Department substation.
Mayor Virg Bernero spoke about the history of the site, and about gentrification and what it can mean for a neighborhood.
“What it can mean is that some people are getting left behind and we don’t want that to happen," said Mayor Bernero.
"And that’s why I’m such a big proponent, and the folks up here are such big proponents, of affordable housing, because we want economic progress and prosperity to reach everybody, we want everybody to have a chance.”
Starting next summer, the historic Abigail building on the school’s campus will also be transformed into affordable apartment units for seniors.
The entire project is expected to be completed by October 2018.