Courtesy Cinnaire

Two vacant buildings at the former Michigan School for the Blind have been transformed into affordable housing for seniors in Lansing.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the campus served blind youths and adults for more than a century before closing in 1996 and then sitting empty for 20 years, falling into deep disrepair.

Cinnaire, a community development financial organization, in partnership with the Ingham County Land Bank, committed to saving the landmark, which led to TWG Development being brought in to redevelop the property.

Courtesy Cinnaire

Experienced in affordable housing and adaptive-reuse projects, TWG has transformed the administration and high school buildings into 60 one- and two-bedroom apartments for seniors earning between 30% and 60% of the area median income.

The Abigail Senior Apartments features an on-site property manager, a library, a community room, and a business/computer center. Tactile art created by blind artists is woven throughout the project to honor the legacy of a school that counts Motown legend Stevie Wonder as an alumnus.

In addition to providing housing options and preserving the buildings, The Abigail is credited for bringing new energy into the community. Mayor Andy Schor even delivered his 2020 State of the City address at the property.

“It’s not often you come across a campus like this that has sat vacant and blighted,” says John Sullivan, vice president, tax credit development, at TWG. “The revitalization aspect is special. We had extensive community involvement.”

The $14.2 million development, which incorporated energy-efficiency elements to achieve National Green Building Standard Silver certification, utilized low-income housing and historic tax credits.