City to receive economic development assistance
Published 8:49 am Monday, February 9, 2015
What will become of the former public safety building property on Broadway and South Third streets in Niles?
How about the land just south of Wonderland Cinema on Front Street, known as the Water Street property?
No one knows for certain, but Niles will be getting help in developing ideas for the future of these city-owned riverfront properties from the Michigan Municipal League’s PlacePlans program.
Ric Huff, city administrator, said he met with representatives from PlacePlans last week. From what he understands, PlacePlans people will analyze those two properties and the former YMCA property to determine what would be best to build there and how the properties would best fit the local economy.
“They also take a larger picture and look to see how those properties would interact with the Main Street DDA district and the local business district near the downtown area,” Huff said. “It is kind of like a real thorough microscopic look on a small part of the city.”
Niles is among seven Michigan cities selected to receive technical assistance with economic development projects designed to attract and retain residents and employers. Specifically, Niles will, in part, get assistance in understanding development opportunities in key sites in the city.
Niles, along with Benton Harbor, Boyne City, Lathrup Village, Monroe, Saginaw and Traverse City will participate in PlacePlans, the Michigan Municipal League announced last week. The seven cities were selected as part of a statewide
PlacePlans is a joint effort between the League and Michigan State University to help communities design and plan for transformative placemaking projects. The PlacePlans are done with support from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) and Governor Snyder’s MIplace Partnership.
This is the third year for the program.
“The League has long supported the concept of placemaking, which is creating communities where people want to live, work and play,” said Dan Gilmartin, CEO and executive director of the Michigan Municipal League. “The PlacePlans actually create realistic, tangible designs to make placemaking possible.”
Huff said through the program the city would receive funding of up to $100,000 in planning dollars with a 25-percent match, meaning the city would have to come up with $25,000 if it is given the full amount.
“We have been talking to some of our local private funders and right now it appears that we will have considerable help from local organizations for us to meet our 25 percent match,” he said.
Now that the projects have been selected, PlacePlans representatives say the next step will be to identify key stakeholders in each community. Then, multiple public meetings will be scheduled in each city to gather public input. From those meetings, conceptual plans with specific implementation goals and guidelines will be formed. Regular updates and information about the projects will be posted at http://placemaking.mml.org/place-plans/.
Huff said this is a great opportunity for the city and one that can also be used in updating the city’s master plan.
“This will give us a plan, or document, that we can share with anyone interested in doing business in town to show them how we envision our community will look like,” he said.
The project will not gear up until early spring, but has to be finished by the end of 2015.