City of Center Line seeks to build up downtown area, encourages green infrastructure through grants

The City of Center Line's Downtown Development Authority recently expanded the city's facade improvement grant program to encourage green infrastructure upgrades.

Businesses adding landscaping to their parking lots can receive up to $5,000. For businesses adding bioswales, a technique that manages storm water runoff by directing it into the ground and not into city sewers, the upgrades can net up to $10,000 in grant money. Businesses also receive $5,000 for traditional facade improvements.

"The goal is to get businesses to bolster the beauty and aesthetics of downtown," says Center Line City Manager Dennis Champine. "If current business owners make the Van Dyke corridor improvements, it will encourage more developers to build here."

The DDA has also revised its master plan. While the DDA used to encompass the 10 Mile Road and Van Dyke Avenue corridors, they have since narrowed their focus to a stretch of Van Dyke that runs from Stephens Road to just north of 10 Mile. The DDA is seeking to attract multi-story mixed-use developments to the area, with businesses on the ground floor and apartments on the upper floors.

Champine says the city wants to create a safe, walkable, and vibrant district in Center Line, one where people come, park their cars, and walk around. He looks to other communities like Royal Oak, Ferndale, and Hazel Park that have nurtured their downtown areas and have since reaped the rewards. The millennial generation doesn't want to live to drive, he says. They want village-style downtowns where they can walk from shop to shop.

"Southwest Macomb County doesn't have any discernible downtowns. We're surrounded by a lot of people. We should take advantage of that."

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