Scott Sunken Garden
Winner of the mParks Design Award - Landscape
Scott Park and the Lansing Board of Water & Light (LBWL) Central Substation are located on the SW corner of Washington Avenue and “Malcolm X” Street south of Lansing Michigan’s Central Business District and the state capitol. The site is bordered north by a one-way eastbound service drive atop the 4-lane depressed I-496 Expressway. East is Washington Avenue. West an abandoned historic building (previously the Women’s Hall of Fame) and Cooley Gardens (city park) and south, the General Motors Grand River Manufacturing Plant employee parking lot, and Grand River.
Scott Park was quitclaimed to the city in 1971 by Maurice and Kathryn Scott, son, and daughter-in-law of Richard Scott, Vice President and successor of Ransom Eli Olds (REO), President of REO Motor Car Company. RE Old’s was a pioneer of the U.S. automotive industry. His “curved dash” was the first gasoline-powered vehicle manufactured in the country and developed close to Scott Park. The car company was the predecessor of General Motors Inc. A small commerce center that catered to the employees who worked at the REO car factory evolved along S. Washington Avenue near the Grand River and became known as “REO Town” in his honor.
Scott Park is located approximately 2/3 of a mile south of the State of Michigan Capitol Building. This area was comprised of the prestigious and prominent homes of commercial and industrial leaders in Michigan during the late 1880s-1950s. In the 1960s the I-496 expressway was constructed, which replaced the mansions and divided the city into two districts. North of I-496 continued to develop as Lansing’s Central Business District (CBD) and the state’s main governmental complex, including the capitol, Supreme Court, legislature, and state departments. The south became primarily automotive manufacturing, shipping, and factory-related shops.
The LBWL, a municipally-owned utility, initiated a program entitled “Lansing Energy for Tomorrow” to replace and upgrade aging infrastructure with clean, efficient, and reliable generation and transmission assets. Part of the scope was to retire the Eckert Coal Plant, with its landmark 3 monumental smokestacks, located ½ mile south of Scott Park, and install a new substation uniformly to help transfer power efficiently. A study determined Scott Park to be the best location for the LBWL’s Central Substation because it was located near the electrical “sweet spot” for power distribution and was municipally owned. Scott Park contained 4.5 acres. The city granted 1.75 acres to the LBWL with the balance being redeveloped parkland.
The design scope then focused on “How a historic park and a “state of the art” substation can co-exist?
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