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David Mittleman
David Mittleman
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Lansing Michigan Is Great For Young People; Grumpy Old Man, Not So Much

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John Schneider,  I am surprised at you.

After making a living here in Lansing, writing for the Lansing State Journal and helping “the little guys,” now you throw us under the bus in your blog post that was recently published (“A real downtown has been an elusive goal,” 10/10/13)?  After you take your buyout from Gannett last year, why do you feel so compelled to sell out Lansing?

I started at Thomas M. Cooley Law School (which, by the way, attracts students from all over the country) shortly after you moved to Lansing. Unlike your bleak observations, over my 33 years here I have witnessed the cultivation of a downtown area that makes me proud. With the vision of former mayor David Hollister and the leadership of current mayor Virg Benero, the downtown area you bash has flourished – and more is on the way.

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In 1981, while preparing for an onsite inspection of Cooley and to check on housing, I drove to Lansing from my home in Pittsburgh.  I was planning on staying at the old Hotel Olds (now the Romney Building) right next door. After driving down Michigan Avenue, I stopped across the street, walked into the lobby and right back out because I didn’t feel comfortable there.  I stayed at another hotel outside of downtown Lansing.  While in school, I was afraid to walk from the Capitol to the railroad tracks on Michigan Avenue, even with a group of guys.  Over the last decade I now feel very comfortable walking there with my wife and two children, and I have stayed over at the Radisson.  I enjoy our local theatre and have supported our symphony.

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I have nothing bad to say about Grand Rapids or Ann Arbor, but in 2010, when the national financial magazine Kiplinger published its list of the “10 Great Cities for Young Adults,” Lansing was the only city in Michigan listed.  Downtown renewal projects and an emerging technology sector made Lansing a stand-out in mid-sized cities.

No, I am not writing this during our Common Ground Festival, or the Capital City Film Festival, or even the Jazz Festival, just during a beautiful autumn day in Lansing. Next time you are in town, John, check out the Accident Fund Building, Lansing Community College, the new Cooley Law School buildings and library, the BWL building, Old Town, our Capitol, Hall of Justice, Michigan Historical Museum, the Convention Center, the baseball stadium, or one of our great restaurants and bars.  These are just a few of the highlights of Lansing’s energetic downtown that you must have overlooked. Some people just don’t get it.