2014-09-18 / News

From vision to reality

DDA now looking for developer for downtown project
By Gary Gould
810-452-2650 • ggould@mihomepaper.com

This is an artist conceptual drawing of what some of the proposed housing could look like. This is an artist conceptual drawing of what some of the proposed housing could look like. DAVISON — A plan laid out last month by the Davison Downtown Development Authority (DDA) for the city council which could bring a mix of commercial and residential development to downtown Davison now just needs a developer to make it come true.

Jim Hansen, a member of the DDA and owner of Hansen Funeral Home, said the DDA first wanted to get its vision for the project down on paper, which is why it had architectural designs drawn up. But now, before it can proceed, a developer is needed to take the project from vision to reality.

The DDA has a redevelopment plan for what is calls the Rising Street property – a parcel of land from Rising Street to Mill Street off Main Street.

The plan calls for a mix of commercial and residential from Rising to the railroad tracks and then parking and a “center pod” on what would become a vacated Mill Street, which would give foot traffic access from the parking lot outside Jimmy’s Coney Island and GameOn to the downtown area.

Hansen said the DDA needs to finish the renovations to the exteriors of many of the current downtown structures, which is being done with grant money shop owners are slowly beginning to receive, before it can move onto to the Rising and Main streets project.

“After the facades are finished, as long as the TIFA (Tax Increment Financing Authority) district still exists, we would like to move ahead,” said Hansen.

Some of the elements considered along Rising Street are Brownstones and low impact commercial development. At the proposed project’s center would be a stronger commercial element, restaurants and allowing for a mixture of residential and commercial use.

He said studies show more people want to live near downtowns and this plan would make housing available for young, recent college graduates who would utilize a more viable downtown.

“We want to strengthen our downtown, we want our businesses downtown to grow,” said Hansen. “The downtown area should serve as hope for the rest of community.”

Many of the businesses already vital to a strong downtown are there, said Hansen, like a hardware store, a barbershop, beauty salons, a deli and more. But there is also a need for other businesses, like a shoe store or small general store.

Building new commercial sites is one element of the DDA’s plan, but filling empty store fronts – preferably with viable businesses needed downtown – is another aspect of what the DDA is doing.

“If we’re going to have a viable downtown, we need to keep it filled,” he said.

Some of the property in question is owned by the city, which is why Davison will have a proposal on the November 4 ballot which, if approved, would allow it to sell that piece of cityowned property.

Other property in the project area includes Wickes Big Acre, which has been sold, the property at Main and Mill streets, known as the Davison Oil and Gas parcel or DOG, which is owned by the DDA.

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