Government :Development News

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Harrison Township road fix spurs $56.6 million in investment

A promised fix to a Harrison Township road has paved the way for major business and jobs investment by a Chinese automotive firm. That path, Executive Drive, runs parallel to I-94 between the Interstate and Selfridge Air National Guard Base and services over a dozen businesses in an adjacent industrial park.
One of those businesses is Yanfeng Automotive Interiors, a Chinese automotive interiors supplier. Once local officials confirmed plans to rebuild Executive Drive for the first time in its 43-year existence, Yanfeng committed a $56.6 million investment in renovating a vacant building along the roadway; officials expect the investment could generate up to 519 jobs for the Macomb County site.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and a host of area business leaders and local and state officials gathered Wednesday, Aug. 10 for a ribbon-cutting, celebrating the official re-opening of the road.

"Executive Drive is a prime example of how the growth of private industry can spur strategic investment in our infrastructure," says Hackel. "Working alongside Yanfeng (Automotive Interiors), our transportation service providers, economic developers and our community partners, we were able to modernize this key industrial roadway."

Built in 1973, Executive Drive has seen few improvements over its 43-year-long lifespan. The resulting deterioration had construction crews tearing up the road and starting over. Beginning April 4, 2016, crews removed the road to its base and installed new infrastructure before rebuilding Executive Drive. An enhanced drainage system replaced the old one and nearby fire hydrants and the municipal fire suppression system received upgrades. A continuous sidewalk was also installed.

The Executive Drive reconstruction received funding from both the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Macomb County Department of Roads. MDOT awarded a $1,634,640 Transportation Economic Development Fund grant while Macomb County committed an additional $700,560 to the project.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Effort to green up urban Macomb County takes root

Macomb County residents with an affinity for trees, shade and the outdoors have reason to celebrate as officials announce a new program designed to increase tree canopy coverage south of the Clinton River.

The program, Green Macomb Urban Forestry Partnership, is an initiative of the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development and is made possible through a grant from the U.S. Forestry Service and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Forestry Division.  ITC Holdings provided matching money to secure the grant.

According to officials, the initiative focuses on communities south of the Clinton River because they have the highest population density in the county while simultaneously having the lowest tree canopy coverage. Warren, Sterling Heights, and Clinton Township, some of Michigan's largest cities, are locatedat least in partsouth of the Clinton River. The targeted area also has some of the county's oldest infrastructure and its sub-watersheds are heavily impacted by urbanization.

Plans for the affected area include the systematic implementation of a coordinated green infrastructure strategy to improve economic vitality, quality of life and ecological integrity in the affected areas. Green infrastructure uses plants and soil to help filter and purify stormwater runoff while creating habitat and greenspace.

Meanwhile, the city of Utica, itself nestled along the Clinton River, is hoping to invigorate its commercial and industrial districts through the creation of a five-year master plan. Area business owners are invited to attend a public input workshop from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 12 at the Utica Public Library.

Proposals include extending downtown, zoning ordinance reviews and continued focus on recreation and water assets.  Says John Paul Rea, director of the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development, "Public input is essential for developing a realistic and achievable plan for the future of one of Macomb County's most historic and vibrant cities."

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Vacant land fair to be held in Pontiac

A vacant land fair titled "Lots of Possibilities" is being held in the city of Pontiac Saturday, May 7. More than 900 vacant parcels are for sale and will be on display at Wisner Memorial Stadium beginning at 11:00 a.m. The city lots measure approximately 50 by 100 feet and are priced at $250 or less per parcel.

The vacant land fair will have an urban farming flair, and city officials are expecting a big turnout. The city has partnered with UrbanFarming.org, a national advocacy group dedicated to the proliferation of urban farms. That organization, along with goat farmers, honey bee keepers, and a number of sponsors, will be on hand to help prospective buyers give vision to the vacant lots.

Dayne Thomas, Chair of the Pontiac Planning Commission, says the purpose of the vacant land fair is to eradicate blight. The planning commission wants to see the land utilized. He says any proposal will be considered and, if deemed viable, will most likely be approved. An application and questionnaire process will help weed out speculators and others seeking to purchase lots and not do anything with them.

"We have the questionnaires because we don't want people who will take the lots and sit on them with no plans to clean them up," says Thomas. "It's not perfect, but it's a sort of checks and balances to provide accountability to the system."

The first vacant land fair was held last summer, without the urban farming theme. That experience led Thomas to realize that the land fairs couldn't be one-and-done events. He says the city will hold the fairs each spring, summer, and fall until they're no longer deemed necessary.

Lots of Possibilities starts at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 7. Wisner Memorial Stadium is located at 441 Cesar Chavez Ave. in Pontiac.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Regional development news roundup

An opening ceremony of sorts was held at the Grindstone Smokehouse in Westland. The restaurant and bar occupies the space once held by the popular Beaver Creek Bar and Grill, which closed late summer of 2015. Though Grindstone has been open since November, the restaurant celebrated with a ribbon-cutting Wednesday, Jan. 13.
 
The restaurant has re-branded itself as a barbecue slow-cook smokehouse, shifting its menu to feature applewood smoked meats among its entrees. Entertainment is another focus for the Grindstone, which offers live music on the weekends and karaoke and open mic nights throughout the week. Grindstone Smokehouse is located at 1609 N. Wayne Rd. in Westland.
 
The city of Rochester Hills has announced  plans to update its parks and recreation master plan. Officials say that the opinions of city residents will be taken into account in shaping the plan, with a survey being made available online and at the mayor's office. Residents are encouraged to offer ideas regarding funding distribution, park improvements, and quality issues, among other topics.
 
Mayor Bryan K. Barnett believes that having residents' input will only improve the city's park system, saying in a statement, “The more people we can get involved in the planning process the better job we can do on delivering our community's collective vision.”
 
Ferndale is making news with a progressive parental leave policy. City employees will now be provided with 12 weeks of paid leave for maternity, paternity, and adoption care. The 12 weeks consist of six weeks of leave allowance with an additional six weeks of matched paid time off.
 
The change was championed by Mayor Pro Tem and City Councilmember Melanie Piana, a result of her observing others struggle between the need for a paycheck and the requirements of new parenthood. Piana believes the policy will help establish gender equality among city workers. Ferndale officials also believe the generous policy will help attract and retain talented employees.
 
Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Bike loop, fix-it stations, and more coming to Pontiac

As a slew of economic changes come to Pontiac, officials are turning to quality-of-life improvements for the seat of Oakland County government, which had fallen on hard times for decades and now has the makings of a revival.

Several bike-friendly initiatives are the latest effort to make Pontiac more livable, likeable and economically viable.
 
New bicycle loops, fix-it stations and way-finding signs were recently installed in downtown Pontiac. They will give cyclists safer and easier paths to the public library, downtown businesses and city parks from the Clinton River Trail. The Friends of Clinton River Trail, Healthy Pontiac, We Can! Coalition, and Oakland County are among supporters and sponsors of the changes.
 
A special event celebrating the improvements took place on Oct. 21 and featured a ribbon cutting at one of the new fix-it stations. Cyclists from Pontiac Light Riders tried out the new features of the trail.
 
Source: Bill Mullan, spokesman, Oakland County
Writer: Kim North Shine

Transit-oriented plan for west Dearborn wins $10K PlacePlan grant

A transit-oriented development in west downtown Dearborn is getting a $10,000 show of support from the Michigan Municipal League, which selected five projects statewide for their promise of completing developments that create a sense of place and, in turn, economic vitality.

The project, known as TOD, has been in the planning and design stages since 2012. It would serve as a focal point for the community, be a multi-modal connector for local and regional commuter needs, and also a link between local attractions and points of interest. The design calls for a pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use, livable district adjacent to several key sites in Dearborn, chief among them the John D. Dingell Transit Center, which opened in December 2014.

In addition to being a transportation facilitator, the development will support a complementary downtown redevelopment project.

The site boundaries include Michigan Avenue to the north; the Rouge River, Norfolk Southern Railroad, and The Henry Ford to the east; Ford Motor Company to the south; and Oakwood Avenue to the west.

The $10,000 PlacePlan grant will give the city funding to help design an extension of West Village Drive into the TOD area as a “living street,” which uniquely accommodates pedestrian movement and vehicle circulation.

The project also carries out a much larger vision locally, regionally, and beyond.

"Upon its creation, the TOD site will be used by Dearborn as a space for both planned and spontaneous year-round activities. It will connect multiple assets and make them accessible by foot, bicycle, or transit, therein reducing transportation expenses and making the region more affordable and sustainable," says a statement from the Michigan Municipal League. "The creation of a transit-oriented development in this significantly auto-centric community could be a best-practice model for future development of livable, sustainable neighborhoods elsewhere around the state and nation."

Source: Michigan Municipal League
Writer: Kim North Shine

Farmington Hills archery range targets residents, visitors looking for new things to do

Farmington Hills is upping the amenities in the city  -- there already is an ice rink and performance stage for the community -- by adding an archery range.

The Riley Archery Range is scheduled to open at Heritage Park June 13 and give visitors to Farmington Hills another reason to come to town.

The range will have eight shooting lanes with distances between 10 and 30 yards. The varying lanes accommodate a wide range of ages and abilities. There will be open shooting times, group reservations, and lessons offered, as well as lanes for rent for camps and birthday parties.

The Riley Archery Range was funded by the Riley Foundation, Panasonic, Safari Club International, ROWE Professional Services, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Bryan Farmer, deputy director for the city of Farmington Hills Department of Special Services, calls the community archery range "our next, big, interesting, unique venture" and says "it's like no other."

A grand opening celebration is set for July 13, a month after opening day.

Source: Bryan Farmer, deputy director, City of Farmington Hills Department of Special Services
Writer: Kim North Shine

 

Saginaw Green pocket park planned for downtown Pontiac

A plan to transform a vacant lot in downtown Pontiac into a pocket park that will serve as a gathering spot for visitors is gaining momentum with the help of a recently launched crowdfunding campaign.

Fundraising for the the Saginaw Green project began last week. The proposed park is seen by organizers of the crowdfunding campaign as a complement to the development that is happening throughout Pontiac, especially on and around Saginaw, the city's main street.

The Downtown Pontiac Business Association is working the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the Michigan Land Bank to develop the green space that will include a gazebo, a movie screen among winding paths and landscaping. Before the lot can be transformed $12,500 must be raised.

It comes as downtown is seeing new development and business, possibly as much as $70 million in the next few years.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Pontiac Downtown Business Association

 

Advantage Health Centers opens behavioral medicine space in Warren

Advantage Health Centers of Detroit and Blue Cross Blue Shield have built a new heatlh care facility on the border of Warren and Detroit, part of a larger plan to treat substance abuse and mental illness among the uninsured and to improve the overall quality of life for the community.

The new Behavioral Health Space is located at 4669 East 8 Mile Road in Warren and with new staff and more room it expects to reach 30 percent more patients needing treatment for depression, substance abuse and other mental and behavioral health needs.

The development was supported with a $100,000 safety net grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Advantage Health Centers is a federally funded health care system that provides services to the uninsured and underinsured, including many homeless patients and military veterans.

It operates seven clinics, including dental care practices, in Detroit and in Warren. About 20,000 patients receive care for ailments that would go untreated or eventually waste emergency room time and space. Helping low-income people stay healthy gives them  the ability to work and be productive, says executive director Joseph Ferguson, and benefits metro Detroit and Michigan as a whole.

Source: Daniel Zemke, Maria DaSilva and Joseph Ferguson, Advantage Health Centers
Writer: Kim North Shine

Lincoln Park Lofts ready for downtown residents and retailers

A former movie theater and adult club on Lincoln Park's main street are gone and in their place is a new residential loft and retail development.

The grand opening of Lincoln Park Lofts on Fort Street at O'Connor is being celebrated Jan. 15.

The project headed by the Wayne Metro Community Action Agency is a mix of historic rehab and new construction and is meant to offer affordable housing and retail space in place of the historic vacant Park Theater, which was a family draw before closing in the 70s. In the 80s it became the Hustler adult club until closing in 2008.

The facade and marquee of the theater were saved and incorporated into the new development. The marquee is expected to be restored and re-lit eventually. Inside the former theater construction is nearing completion on 12 residential lofts. On the ground floor are two 1,200-square-foot retail spaces. Behind the former theater is a new building that houses 24 condos with ground level parking. The condos are fully occupied.

"We are thrilled to have the Lincoln park lofts opening in our downtown. This is a project that has been a long time coming," says Madhu Oberoi, executive director of the city's downtown development authority.

The project has been in development since at least 2009, when developer Louis Piszker, CEO of Wayne Metro Community Action Agency, told metromode, "It will stand out as an exciting entry point to downtown Lincoln Park. "We're looking at this project as a seed or catalyst to revitalize the downtown of the city."

Today, Oberoi says his prediction holds true even as local preservationists fight plans to demolish a 1920s-era dime store just down the street from the lofts. The Neisner dime store would be replaced with a Save A Lot grocer.

"This will provide a 24/7 resident population in the downtown which is extremely important for downtowns to survive," says Oberoi. "This is expected to generate walkable activity and need for support services to serve the downtown...Hopefully this project will provide a catalyst for other retail type businesses to locate in the downtown."

Source: Madhu Oberoi, executive director, Lincoln Park Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine


 

Riley Park ice rink opens in downtown Farmington

The Riley Park Ice Rink in downtown Farmington is seen as keeping winter from putting a freeze on business and keeping the heart of the city pumping when temps plunge.

Barring too-warm temps, the 4,800-square-foot, refrigerated rink opens this weekend as a fundraising campaign to maintain and market the volunteer-run rink.

During warmer months, Riley Park hosts the Farmington Farmers & Artisans Market, Rhythmz in Riley Park and the Harvest Moon Celebration.

As the rink opens for its second year the hope is to keep Riley Park and the businesses that surround it thriving all year long and to foster the feeling of a quaint, downtown park and ice rink as a place to have fun before or after dinner, a coffee, or shopping. Annette Knowles, executive director of the city's downtown development authority, describes the vibe of the park and downtown in winter as "Currier and Ives-like."

"The Riley Park Ice Rink creates a winter destination in downtown Farmington. Until the rink came, the programming in the park was for three seasons, not four," says Knowles. "Now, we have a cool, fun place for families to connect and play.  And the rink is surrounded by restaurants where skaters can warm up and get a snack or inviting boutiques and stores to purchase accessories to keep you warm on the ice."

The ice rink opened in 2013 thanks to a major contribution of $100,000 from the Riley Foundation. Local businesses such as Wright Beamer, Dagwood’s Deli, S3 Architecture, John Cowley and Sons Irish Pub, and OHM Advisors contributed to the project as did the community, with Farmington residents chipping in $10,000.

Source: Annette Knowles, executive director, Farmington Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Royal Oak formulates downtown retail development plan

A national retail consultant has looked at the city of Royal Oak and what's wrong and right with its retail situation as the city works to "confirm its position as a retail and entertainment destination."

The city hired The Retail Coach out of Mississippi in September. The company has worked with dozens of local governments, chambers of commerce and economic development corporations in more than 250 cities, guiding them through development and redevelopment of their retail offerings.

The assessment for Royal Oak was expected to be presented to the City Council this week. The assessment will gauge consumer demand and analyze retail trade areas and retail gaps and opportunities. The analysis will target 52 retail categories that are weak or underperforming in Royal Oak.

“Royal Oak has always enjoyed a reputation as one of Michigan’s most exciting cities with several award-winning boutiques and galleries, and a bustling nightlife,” Royal Oak Economic Development Manager Todd  Fenton says in a statement from The Retail Coach.

“By bringing The Retail Coach on board to assist with our retail business attraction efforts, Royal Oak aims to be a showcase of distinct retailers that provide an unparalleled shopping experience...People and businesses are increasingly relocating to walkable urban environments, and Royal Oak boasts one of Michigan’s most dynamic and desirable downtowns," Fenton says. "As foot traffic continues to increase during the day with the addition of new residents and office users, the time is right for a coordinated retail attraction initiative to attract retailers who fit into our unique city.”

Source: The Retail Coach
Writer: Kim North Shine

Michigan & Eastpointe partner on redevelopment & investment strategy

Eastpointe is the third Michigan city to enter a partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. in an effort to promote cities that are easy for businesses and developers to work with.

By being designated as a Redevelopment Ready Community -- the first two in Michigan were nearby Roseville and Allegan -- Eastpointe is provided with guidance and advice on best practices on how to remove hurdles to development and assist small and large businesses that want to move into the aging inner-ring suburb. The advice includes identifying and preparing developable sites, marketing and recruiting potential users for the sites, assisting in city, county and state requirements and informing the public of what the buildings and land will be used for -- and, overall, bringing in companies that meet the needs of the public and the vision of city leaders.

“We are pleased to be part of our region and state and to partner with public service agencies such as MEDC focusing on community economic health with transparency and accountability," says Eastpointe City Manager Steve Duchane.

The Macomb County city has a population of about 32,000 and quick access to I-94 and I-696 There are more than 800 commercial, industrial and service businesses and 60-some major companies within its five square miles, which includes the major thoroughfare of Gratiot Avenue.

The city is marketing property and is prepared to offer incentives and streamline its approvals process so that redevelopment of unused property can move along quickly.

Source: City of Eastpointe
Writer: Kim North Shine

Hampton Inn hotel & retail planned for Michigan Ave in Dearborn

A vacant fitness center on Michigan Avenue in Dearborn will be demolished and replaced by a hotel and retail spaces.

The project of Hallmark Ventures LLC will include a 5-story, 96-room Hampton Inn and four retail spaces totaling 1,500 square feet at 22324 Michigan Avenue.

The state has approved a $1 million, performance-based grant for the project, and the city of Dearborn's Brownfield Redevelopment Authority is capturing $943,700 in local and school taxes for demolition and asbestos abatement.

The development will create 52 full-time jobs and cost about $8.6 million to complete, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

Source: Michigan Economic Development Corp.
Writer: Kim North Shine

Lincoln Park plans public space, pavilion downtown

Vacant land in downtown Lincoln Park, the subject of debate and discussion now for at least five years, may become a public event space and pavilion.

The Lincoln Park Downtown Development Authority plans to hire a consultant to draw up a blueprint for a re-use of the spot on Fort Street. The location is seen as a prime one for attracting visitors to downtown for fun, eating and shopping.

The DDA owns the vacant land, part of it occupied by the Dorsey Building at 1673 Fort Street. The building is in disrepair and needs to be demolished. The vacant lots next the building are also owned by the DDA, which had that land cleared when the historic Mellus Newspapers Building could not be saved. The other building has also been demolished.

This long process has paved the way for a park and public gathering space. The DDA's executive director, Madhu Oberoi, says a meeting held this week to discuss a public use plan for the property was well attended by residents and business owners.

"We got great responses. The consensus was that the public space was a great idea and the covered pavilion/gazebo is definitely needed downtown for events," she says. "It was felt this would be a catalyst for new development. The level of excitement was definitely there."

Source: Madhu Oberoi, executive director, Lincoln Park Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine
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