The 11th Street corridor is shown last winter. The City of Niles and Niles Charter Township are working on a plan to improve the corridor. Daily Star file photo

Archived Story

What is the future of South 11th?

Published 8:55pm Tuesday, December 13, 2011

After more than a year of planning, a vision for a new and improved South 11th Street corridor from Niles to South Bend was unveiled Tuesday evening.

The vision includes grass medians, sidewalks, new streetlights, uniform signage and uniform building design from Main Street to the Indiana state line.

The project is being spearheaded by the City of Niles, Niles Township and the Southwestern Michigan Economic Growth Alliance. These entities worked closely with the Land Information Access Association, a nonprofit community service organization in Traverse City, in creating the vision.

Harry Burkholder, of LIAA, gave a brief presentation of the vision to about 20 people Tuesday at Brandywine Middle/Senior High School.

The plan can be viewed at the project website:

Burkholder said the vision is just that — a vision. Nothing is set in stone, and no plans have been made. The vision would act as a guide for a longterm plan for the future of South  11th Street.

“The vision hopefully sets us up for 5, 10, 15, probably 40 years in the future for what we want the corridor to look like,” he said. “Without a vision, you can’t move forward. It’s worth having on paper a statement saying this is what you want to see as we move forward.”

The vision was broken into five sections: the first being from near Main Street to Superior Street, the second from Superior Street to Marion Street, the third from Marion Street to Fort Street, the fourth from Fort Street to Bell Road and the fifth from Bell Road to State Line Road.

All five sections would look similar. Each would have a grass median, four lanes of traffic, at least one sidewalk on either side of the road, new streetlights and uniform landscaping.

Sam Ammori, owner of A1 Telecom in Niles, said he would like to see the plan implemented.

“If we have action on South 11th that would be something,” Ammori said. “You see people going to Grape Road because of the lights and how it looks. If we make it more attractive here, maybe more people come to see what we have.”

Theresa Harrison, a resident of Milton Township, also said she likes the vision.

“I am very excited about it because it is bringing together the two parts of our community in Niles City and Niles Township to work towards a common goal,” she said. “It has the potential of really making a statement saying you’ve left Indiana and you’ve arrived in Michigan.”

The next step, Burkholder said, would be for local officials to move forward with implementing parts of the plan.

“We believe there are things in this plan that local jurisdictions can do — low-hanging fruit — like adopting changes to the zoning ordinance and amending the master plan. Those are the first steps to moving in the direction of doing improvements,” he said.

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