The Lansing Board of Water & Light announced today the completion of its Central Substation project located on the corner of W. Malcolm X St. and S. Washington Ave. in REO Town. The project’s completion also marks the re-opening of Scott Park.
“This entire process has been very collaborative. Stationed at the gateway to REO Town, the public’s input was extremely important on how we designed the Central Substation,” said BWL General Manager Dick Peffley. “I’m proud of being able to deliver on what we originally promised to our customers, making this park space more accessible and inviting to our community while providing more reliable, affordable power to downtown Lansing and beyond.”
Three design charrettes were held in 2016-2017 to hear input from the public on the substation’s wall height and what materials should be used for the walls and other design elements. These improvements included:
- Public Art Installation – The BWL has committed to provide $20,000 for public art at the substation every three years. The RFP public arts review team included representatives from the BWL, City of Lansing, REO Town Commercial Association and the Arts Council of Greater Lansing. The first winning entry went to Lansing-based Michigan Imagery, to artists Dane Vermuelen and Caitlin Gwinn. The design, titled “City Rhythm,” tells the story of an ever-changing Greater Lansing region. Using colorful lighting and metal panels, the murals are installed on the north and south sides of the substation.
- Historical Signs – Ten signs reflecting the historical legacy of the site were placed throughout the park, such as Scott Park, Malcom X, R.E. Olds and I-496. The signs were produced by Lansing-based Capital City Reprographics. Historical research was provided by the Historical Society of Greater Lansing, R.E. Old’s Transportation Museum and the Garden Club of Greater Lansing and REO Town Commercial Association.
- Sunken Garden – The original garden was meticulously moved approximately 400ft. to the southwest, brick-by-brick and stone-by-stone. Each plant was removed and replanted at nearby Cooley Gardens at the start of the project. Because the new site is in more direct sunlight than the original, BWL collaborated with the City of Lansing and the Garden Club of Greater Lansing to move half of the plants back to the Sunken Garden, and purchase more colorful plants and flowers that are better suited for the space. The remaining plants from the original garden remain at Cooley Gardens. The BWL created a $40,000 endowment to provide resources to help maintain the Scott Sunken Garden, such as garden supplies, maintenance and/or plant material. This fund will accept contributions from the community in order for garden support to continue in the future.
- Live Wall – A colorful display of annuals on the north and west corner wall of the substation will help draw attention to the Scott Sunken Garden and Cooley Garden. It just so happens that “Live Wall” is the name of the company that provided the live wall.
- Pathway Trails – A new and safer walking path with a riverfront view was added surrounding the Central Substation, providing new recreational use for the area. An earlier proposed stairway connecting these trails to the Lansing River Trail was not included in the final design due to site constraints.
- Fishing Platform – A fishing platform will be renovated at Riverpoint Park later this year. The decision to move the proposed platform from across from the substation to Riverpoint Park was made in partnership with the city and local fishermen because the area is better suited for fishing. Labor and materials will be donated by the Lansing Labor Council and Union Sportsmen’s Alliance.
“I commend the BWL for renewing a Lansing park with additional amenities to make the area more inviting and to be a landmark gateway connecting downtown and REO Town,” said Lansing Mayor Andy Schor. “The space is a beautiful and unique way to build a substation and a new park surrounding it in an urban area.”
Additional charrette suggestions that were incorporated into the final design include:
- Timeless brick building-like design to bring out more "REO town grit"
- Three iconic Eckert Power Station stacks element for grand entrance to REO Town at corner of S. Washington and Malcom X (northeast corner)
- Plaza designed for community events
- Wall set back from Washington Ave.
- Windows to allow natural light through walls
- Portholes to see inside substation
- Enhanced landscaping and parking lot
Other local contractors involved in the project include Bob Ford of Landscape Architects & Planners, Inc., Ken Jones of Studio Intrigue, Clark Construction, Lawn Sprinklers, Sales, Service & Design Inc. of Lansing, Capital City Reprographics, Moore Trosper, Cottage Gardens, Young Brothers & Daily, Schiffer Mason Contractors, Inc. and Davenport Masonry.
The construction cost of nearly $28 million was exceed by nearly $6 million due to unforeseen issues including previously unknown site contamination which had to be mitigated and increased construction costs once the design was finalized. Per BWL policy, the overage was disclosed and approved the BWL Board of Commissioners.
The project is part of BWL’s plan to replace the Eckert Power Station and adjoining Eckert Substation in order to continue providing affordable and reliable power to its customers. The Central Substation is part of Lansing Energy Tomorrow, the BWL’s major electric modernization program to replace and upgrade aging infrastructure with clean, efficient and reliable generation and transmission assets. Lansing Energy Tomorrow is an extensive five-year, $101 million Transmission & Distribution (T & D) Improvement Project that is already underway and includes: new transmission lines; five new or rebuilt substations; reducing the number of circuits and the amount of customer demand at the Eckert substation, and; adding capacitor banks at strategic points on the BWL’s transmission system.