|Pine Street looking south
The west side of downtown Traverse City might finally get the major facelift that’s been hoped for since 1997.
Bryan Crough, executive director of TC’s Downtown Development Authority tells The Ticker that the DDA at its meeting this Friday will likely authorize $460,000 from DDA/TIF funds to spruce up State and Pine streets and a portion of West Front near J&S Hamburg — and that those efforts will be the precursor to a second phase: a new pedestrian way, plaza, and bridge over the Boardman River, leading from the east side of J&S Hamburg to the Warehouse District.
Both projects originally were proposed in the DDA's 1997 Tax Increment Financing Plan.
The plan the DDA is to consider on Friday would remove and replace the sidewalk, curb and gutter on Pine Street; reconstruct, beautify and upgrade the traffic signals at the State and Union streets intersection; and reconstruct the Pine and Front street intersection to increase pedestrian safety.
“All of this is meant to spark the redevelopment of that area of downtown,” says Crough. “It’s a blighted part of downtown that needs attention.”
Although considered in earlier versions, streetscapes are not part of this plan because the DDA expects significant redevelopment of the area in the next decade.
The city is working with Traverse City Light and Power on the feasibility of removing overhead utilities and running them underground, as well. Doing so is vital to realizing the future pedestrian way, plaza and bridge connecting Pine Street to the Warehouse District, says Rob Bacigalupi, the DDA’s deputy director.
“The funding [from TIF 97] is in the [2013 fiscal year budget],” he says, noting that fund availability could change based on tax appeals and other economic factors. “The concern is the engineering. We have to get the utilities out of the way for construction to begin, and there may be a need to rework the property lines. But that’s what the city engineer and [TCL&P] are working on now.”
If TCL&P authorizes the overhead-to-underground conversion, work on the Spruce/Pine/West Front project could begin as early as mid-August. Otherwise, the project will begin after Labor Day.
Regardless of the start date, the project must be completed by November 1 in order to meet MDOT’s requirements. MDOT’s Small Urban Program is funding $375,000 toward the project.
New Hope for Transient Merchants
If you were disappointed when the TC City Commission approved the DDA’s recommendation to double the daily and weekly rates for Transient Merchants starting in September, take heart.
On Friday the DDA board also will consider asking the TC City Commission to revisit the issue and offer its assistance in consideration of a new idea: retaining the fee hike within the higher-rent downtown district only and adjusting the policy outside the downtown district.