LANSING, Mich. — After about 2.5 years of construction at the Michigan state Capitol, Heritage Hall is almost finished. The completely new 40,000 square-foot underground building at the Capitol will open on July 5.
“We're going to open the facility on July 5 for our first tour group to come and start the tour at Heritage Hall before they go into the Capitol,” said Rob Blackshaw, the executive director of the Michigan State Capitol Commission.
The project has been in the works since fall 2019 and broke ground in January 2020.
“It is a new facility that supports all the functions of the Capitol building and supports the legislatures in what they do,” Blackshaw said. “If there are any groups or events who want to come visit them, we can do catered functions inside this hall, we can actually have a committee meeting in in the state room inside of Heritage Hall.”
All Capitol tours will start from Heritage Hall once it is open, he said.
“Up to 200,000 kids a year, third and fourth graders start their tours here, have an orientation and then ascend up the new west steps into the Capitol building for the Capitol tour itself,” Blackshaw said.
July 5 will be more of a soft opening to allow for the start of operations and tours at Heritage Hall.
"That'll give us a couple of months to really work through our new routines and establish everything before the legislature returns from their summer break in September," Blackshaw said. "When they come back from summer break, we'll probably have more of a formal grand opening for them to introduce the space to them as well.”
In May of this year alone, the Capitol had almost 10,000 visitors. On Monday, the Michigan State Capitol Commission discussed adding an underground maintenance garage, which would just be under 5000 square feet and probably add an additional $4.5 million to $5 million to the $40 million project.
“Just east of the north annex, there's a space they want to put an underground maintenance garage in,” Blackshaw said. “We currently have a majority of our equipment off site.”
Blackshaw said that whether it’s snow removal or landscaping, there is a great need for storage space because they have doubled their capacity for ground space they need to maintain.
The commission is keeping the look and feel of the Capitol in mind.
“We took the west side of the grounds and turned it more into a park like space instead of an old parking lot,” Blackshaw said. “So no matter what you do on Capitol Square, now, there will be green landscape, very appropriately and very well maintained.”
Blackshaw said there are 16 parking spots on each side of Walnut street bridge, and there will be four electric vehicle charging stations, which will be ready to go at the opening on July 5.
Content By: Luisa Wiewgorra, Fox 47 News Posted June 13, 2022
Photo credits: Renderings: Heritage Hall, Header image - James Lenon