There’s nothing like enjoying a bite to eat outside on a sunny day. In honor of the return of patio season, the open-air Albert EL Fresco space is again being set up on Albert Avenue. To celebrate, the City of East Lansing’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is inviting the community to enjoy a special grand reopening event 5 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, May 11.
Located on Albert Avenue between Abbot Road and M.A.C. Avenue, Albert EL Fresco is a pedestrian-friendly area with games, colorful outdoor seating, hammocks, and hosts programming and special events throughout the summer.
City of East Lansing Community and Economic Development Specialist Matt Apostle said the space initially came about in the beginning of the pandemic.
“This will technically be the fourth summer we’ve closed down the plot in the road in Albert Avenue,” he said. “The first summer, we weren’t branding it as Albert EL Fresco yet, in 2020. It was primarily driven by the safety component of being able to patron businesses in a safe, outdoor manner.”
From there, as safety measures started lifting, the space grew to include more fun, inviting outdoor seating areas and what Apostle calls “tactical urbanism techniques” like whiskey barrels, modified planter seatings and sail shades.
Community feedback to the open-air area has been positive. So this year, even more special events and programming are planned.
“Each year we keep adding new elements and keeping it fresh,” Apostle said. “Every Thursday throughout the summer, we will have game night. Our team will bring out an array of various yard games and bigger infrastructure, play music or have live music, and interact with the community.”
The free event this Thursday will feature live music by Mark Collins at 5:30 p.m. and BE SEAN at 7 p.m., ping pong, cornhole, giant chess, an inflatable free-throw basketball game, and more activities. The ELPL Library On the Go mobile pop-up library will also be parked onsite from 5 to 7 p.m.
The open-to-the-public space has been utilized by all types of people and of all ages. Whether it’s a late-night hammock hang between college student friends on a Friday, a Saturday morning yoga class or an outdoor family picnic on a Sunday afternoon, Albert EL Fresco is becoming a summer tradition for many.
“That’s the biggest benefit of Albert EL Fresco is that it provides a community amenity that a diverse set of individuals are able to enjoy in different ways,” Apostle said. “Throughout the summer, we plan to have a ton of programming in Albert EL Fresco, and special events. The East Lansing PRIDE, the Greater Lansing Area Mom’s Summer Kickoff event, the Community Chalk Walk, and Moonlight ExtravaGRANDza event we plan to bring back as well.”