Congratulations to Eric Schertzing and the Ingham County Land Bank for exorcising the demons that have haunted the Deluxe Inn by turning it into a bright and beautiful community canvas. Cleansing this aging motel of the ugliness that has afflicted it in recent years proves again that art is transformative.
Images by Bonnie Bucqueroux. Music by Drew Howard and The Weepers – “Dying Kiss.”
People died here, often at the hands of others. Though a precise body count is hard to come by, over the years, the facility became a magnet for drugs and prostitution, a place where desperate people did whatever was it took to avoid dropping that last rung lower, onto the rock bottom of the streets.
It wasn’t always that way. Back when the auto industry was booming, the site housed the Riverside Inn. I cannot remember what today’s facility was called when it was first built. But I do remember it as a Motel 6 and then the Deluxe Inn. But as Lansing’s manufacturing base eroded, the motel’s fortunes skidded downhill as well.
I enjoyed spending time taking photos. Cars would stop, and many people seemed surprised to see this impromptu art installation. I know that MSU will be rightfully proud of its trendy new Broad Art Museum. But there is a special richness of spirit when citizens pick up a can of spray paint and create beauty out of an urban ruin.
And Land Bank Director Eric Schertzing deserves special thanks for giving people a change to be creative without requiring any red tape. Thanks to Eric also for making this happen without any bureaucratic red tape. No applications. No plans in triplicate. No permits.
I asked Chris, the young man spray painting in the slide show, if he had planned out what he wanted to create. No, he’s was just letting it happen. I can’t think of a better way to spend a day in Lansing.
NOTE: The site remains open through tomorrow. Then it becomes a training facility for the Lansing Fire Department before its eventual destruction and removal.
Links to other sites on Lansing’s Reo Town history: