Walnut Park and Abigail Senior Living
Repurposing Michigan's school for the blind
The Michigan School for the Blind first opened its doors in 1880 to serve blind youth and adults. Over the years’ the campus grew to include a high school, administrative building, superintendent’s house, a library, eight cottages, an elementary school with gymnasium, and an auditorium. The campus was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and counts Motown legend Stevie Wonder as an alumnus. The school closed in 1996, as public and private schools evolved to better accommodate and meet the needs of blind students. The 20-acre campus had served as a hub of activity for the surrounding Lansing neighborhood and its closing was followed by economic distress and an increase in crime to the city’s north side neighborhood.
Transforming Communities, Preserving History
Cinnaire, in partnership with the Ingham County Land Bank, committed to redeveloping the campus and returning it to a vibrant facility supporting healthy communities. In 2012, Cinnaire saved the iconic Lansing landmark from foreclosure by resolving outstanding loans and committed to securing and maintaining the property. In 2016, Cinnaire teamed up with TWG Development to fund and revitalize the campus, which includes the high schools, Abigail administrative building and the Auditorium.
After receiving a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) allocation in 2017, the former Auditorium building was taken down to make room for Walnut Park Apartments, which features 64 units of affordable housing and 8 units of market rate housing. To honor the legacy of the School, the developer partnered with the Blind Childcare’s Fund and alumni to commemorate the School’s cherished past in the main entrance area.
Two additional buildings – the 68,373 square foot historic Abigail administrative building and the 30,660-square-foot High School building – were then redeveloped into The Abigail, 60 units of affordable senior housing.
Many residents were previously homeless or residing in shelters. Cinnaire’s commitment to revitalizing the School for the Blind Campus has brought new energy to the neighborhood while connecting individuals in need with safe, affordable housing.
Cinnaire provided a $9.6 million LIHTC investment, a $370,000 predevelopment loan, and a $2.3 million permanent loan to support the development. Additionally, Cinnaire Title provided the title work for the project.
“I moved to Lansing in the early ’80s. I went to Lansing Community College and I lived in this end of town. It was all homeowners and the School for the Blind was still active at that time. When the school went down, a whole area of energy and activity disappeared with it.” – Trish, Walnut Park Property Manager
Walnut Park Apartments
Walnut Park Apartments, a four-story family living complex, is located near several bus stops in a very walkable neighborhood. The green, LEED-certified building provides affordable utility costs. Amenities include a tot lot, community room, fitness center, lounge space, business center and a bike share program. All units feature ample natural light and wood floors in the living room and kitchen. An on-site police substation has substantially decreased crime rates in the community.
The Abigail Senior Living
Situated on 8.5 acres, The Abigail has brought 60 new affordable housing units to the Lansing community, serving low- to moderate-income seniors earning between 30%, 40%, 50% and 60% of Area Median Income. The adaptive reconstruction garnered extensive public support, by fostering a distinctive and attractive development, while retaining the historic architecture. The Abigail offers residents spacious, sun-filled apartments, a community room, a craft room, a fitness center,a bike-sharing program and was designed to meet National Green Building Standards Silver Certification.
Project Details - By the Numbers
Total Development Cost
Projected Residents Served
Family & Seniors
Home Office - Lansing
1118 South Washington
Lansing MI, 48910
320 North Meridian, Suite 516
Indianapolis IN, 46204
100 W. 10th Street, Suite 502
Wilmington, DE 19801
225 West Washington, Suite 1350
Chicago, IL 60606
10 E. Doty Street, Suite 617
Madison, WI 53703
100 Cesar E. Chavez Ave., Suite 202
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
2111 Woodward Avenue, Suite 600
Detroit, MI 48201
231 E. Buffalo Street, Suite 302
Milwaukee, WI 53202