Starbucks opens its doors in the former Clara's building

LANSING — Starbucks' first "community store" in Michigan opened Thursday inside the former Clara's Lansing Station, a 120-year-old former train station on East Michigan Avenue, according to a news release from the company.

The Seattle-based coffee company occupies a 2,800-square-foot space in the western half of the building, the first tenant since Clara's closed six years ago.

The full-service store, which will employ 25 people, joins 27 other community stores the company operates in the U.S. that are focused on "local hiring, partnerships with local nonprofits and working with diverse contractors and subcontractors," according to the news release.

According to the Starbucks website, "each store operates with a commitment to serving the local community, with the recognition that when communities thrive we all benefit. While the profit-sharing models of each store varies according to the specific needs of the local community, one thing remains constant – the belief that when communities come together, there can be positive change."

The company intends to partner with United Way of Ingham County to "offer training, neighborhood-specific programs, and additional resources," at the location, said Starbucks spokesperson Courtney Mains.

"I think our community stores just really look to create even deeper connections and empower the local community," she said.

Mains said the company was drawn to the unique history behind the former train depot, which was built in 1902 as Michigan Central Railroad Station, and later Union Station.

"I think the historic nature of the building, obviously, and just the prominence in downtown was a super exciting opportunity," Mains said.

According to Starbucks, the community stores are part of its goal to enhance the well-being of all who connect within its stores. Starbucks has about 150 of the community stores and will open or dedicate 1,000 globally by 2030.


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The Lansing location includes a drive-thru lane and features a mural by Grand Rapids artist Emily Luyk.

Bobcat Bonnie's, a Michigan-based restaurant chain with six other locations, has signed a lease to occupy the remaining 3,000 square feet inside the building, along with the 1,000-square-foot train car on the property. Restaurant owner Matt Buskard said he hopes to open next spring.

The Gillespie Group, the property's owner, has invested $3.6 million in the building's development and is expected to spend another $1.2 million on the property,

Contact Rachel Greco at Follow her on Twitter @GrecoatLSJ .

This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: Starbucks opens its doors in the former Clara's building