Mount Clemens receives state funding to overhaul Cherry Street Mall
Posted By: Macomb Daily on September 24, 2022. For more information, please click here to read the source article.
A key stretch of downtown Mount Clemens is in line for a major overhaul that officials say will enhance its appearance, eliminate structural obstacles for area shops, and improve the overall business environment.
Earlier this month, the city received a $813,000 placemaking grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation that will be used toward a $1.6 plan to improve the walkability and connectivity to Cherry Street Mall.
Plans call for a number of improvements to Cherry Street, starting at the Fountain Stage on Macomb Place to the Three Blind Mice Irish Pub and making the mall area more user-friendly.
“We want to make Cherry Street a more walkable space and have placemaking with more public places,” said Mayor Laura Kropp. “We’ve had a lot of issues with flooding in basements of shops that we want to address as well that will make it more economically viable to do business there.”
The grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund is among the largest ever received by Mount Clemens, according to the mayor.
The project includes:
- Putting a new top on and redesigning the Fountain Stage
- Creating a green infrastructure, including a vegetative garden to soak up storm water
- Tearing up existing pavement, adding permeable concrete to remove dips in the pavement to eliminate water seeping into area businesses.
- Adding two new plaza areas and placing overhead utility lines underground
- Replacing a number of trees with new ones
To pay for the project, the city is using the state grant, along with a portion of city fund balance, and the DDA is kicking in a portion. So far, they’ve accumulated about $1.3 million and have also applied for a Michigan Department of Transportation grant to pick up additional costs.
City leaders said they were told by state officials their plan was ranked among the top 10 of the 180 total projects submitted for funding.
“Our grant writer said we checked all the boxes,” said Michelle Weiss, a retail coordinator for the DDA. Work on Cherry Street Mall is designed to be completed in two phases starting next spring.
The power of positive thinking may have played a role in landing the funding. The DDA had already spent $14,000 to begin the design work of the area, not knowing a grant would help turn it into reality. That line of planning had not been used in the past because of Mount Clemens’ budget woes, officials said.
“We were very fortunate to put together this project as a dream and when we got word of grant they were looking for people with something already in the works, we were ready to go,” Weiss said.
According to Kropp, recently retired City Manager Donald Johnson helped change the mindset of City Hall staffers.
“One of our problems was we were never prepared because our budget position prevented us from going after these grants as we didn’t want to disappoint the public,” Kropp said. “We had to change that mindset among the staff.”
Kropp said she learned from her membership in SEMCOG there are a multitude of organizations to help. “We never got in line,” she explained.
“But then we were approached with two other grants, including a street lighting project through the county. It was like a culture shift . People would tell me ‘Laura, are you crazy? We can’t do that.’ But we need to think in more positive terms.”
The grant is part of a $83 million in funding for 22 statewide community development projects around Michigan through the Revitalization And Placemaking (RAP) program, announced by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the MEDC.
The RAP program is intended to spur investments into economic growth to proactively address negative economic impacts of COVID-19 in traditional downtown, and that address the inventory of vacant, underutilized office, commercial, and community spaces due to the pandemic by supporting efforts to repurpose them for the community to enjoy.
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