Downtown Blueprint by gdf57j

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									C o o l Cities B l u e p r i n t s for Michigan's D o w n t o w n s




                                                                Utica
                                                                 Downtown
                                                                  Blueprint
                                                                     2006
C o o l Cities B l u e p r i n t s for Michigan's D o w n t o w n s


       Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns, part of the Cool Cities
       Initiative, is a partnership effort between the Michigan State Housing
       Development Authority (MSHDA), the Michigan Economic
       Development Corporation (MEDC), and the Michigan Municipal
       League (MML) to continue to assist communities and their Downtown
       revitalization efforts. Blueprint action plans are an investment in a
       community that creates new private jobs and illvestment.

       MML originally brought this innovative planning concept to the
       attention of the MEDC and MSHDA. With MML's partnership in
       place, the MEDC and MSHDA have, for three rounds, each put
       $100,000 into the program. Those funds pay for 50% of the Blueprint
       fee with the 50% match coming from the Blueprint communities.
       When housed in the MEDC, the Corr~munity Assistance Team
       (CATeam) designed the program. Now housed in MSHDA, the
       CATeam continues to manage the program. HyettPalma is the
       consultant for the Downtown Blueprint program, working directly with
       each community to define its Downtown Blueprint.

              I
        'The I communities selected during the first round of the program in
        2003 were: Adrian, Battle Creek, Brighton, Buchanan, Cheboygan,
        Davison, Grand Haven, Jonesville, Middleville, Mt. Pleasant, and
        Norway.

        The I 1 comniuni.tiesselected during the second round of the program
        in 2004 were: Charlotte, Fremont, Highland Park, Utica, Howard City,
        lmlay City, lonia, Linden, Menominee, Saline, and Wayland.

        The 8 communities selected during the ,third round of the program in
        2005 were: Big Rapids, East Tawas, Grass Lake, Iron River, Romeo,
        Utica, Vassar, and Whitehall.
Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's D o w n t o w n s

                                                              1600 Prince Street Suite 110
                                                              Alexandria, Virginia 22314

                                                              Phone 703 683 5 126
                                                              Fax 703 836 5887
                                                              E-mail: info@hyettpalma.com
                                                              www.hyettpalma.com
      March 13,2006


      The City of Utica
       and Members of the Process Cornmittee
      7550 Auburn Road
      Utica, MI 48317

      RE:    Utica Downtown Blueprint 2006

      HyettPalma, Inc., is pleased to present to you the following report titled: Utica
      Downtown Blueprint 2006, completed under the program titled Cool Cities
      Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns.

      This document includes the community's vision for Downtown as well as the
      findings of a comprehensive analysis of Downtown's commercial markets. The
      vision and market analysis findings were used to define a specific economic
      enhancement strategy for the Downtown project area. The recommended
      strategy was specifically designed to enable Downtown to attain the community's
      defined vision as well as the identified market opportunities.

      Thank you for the opportunity to lend our firm's expertise to this very important
      project. We hope you will keep us informed of your success and know that we
      stand ready to assist in any way we can as you proceed with Utica's Downtown
      enhancement effort.


                                              Sincerely,




                                                           Dolores P. Palma
Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns




                             Process Committee Members
     At the request of HyettPalma, Inc., a Process Committee was formed to oversee
     this project. HyettPalma would like to thank the members of the Downtown Utica
     Process Committee, listed below as presented by the community, for all their
     time, hard work, and dedication in preparing for and participativg in completing
     the Utica Downtown Blueprint 2006.

                Adams                Lilian     Sterling Heights Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director

                 Cassin             Steve       Macomb County Planning and Economic Development Director

             Charnesky               Ruth       DDA member

               D'Angelo            Joseph       Business Owner, Pointe Realty

                Figurski             Mary       Council Member

                 Fisher             Bruce       Historic District Commission Chairman

         Kurlyandchelk                Yuly      Resident and business owner, DecoRoom

               Mathews                Jack      DDA; American Education Systems owner

              Mayernik             Joseph       DDA Chairman; owner Shamrock Pub

                Noonan         Jacqueline       Mayor, City of Utica

                    Pini              Ray       DDA

                Rabaut               Mark       DDA; owner of Rabaut Printing

                Sergent              Joan       Utica Community Schools Superintendent

                  Steeh               Tom       DDA; building owner

                Warner                 Joe      Advisor Source Newspaper Editor

             Weingartz                Ray       DDA; Weingartz owner

              Wingfield              Keith     Business Owner - Trade Winds Spas

                 Young             Robert       Charter One Mound-59 Manager


     Utica Downtown Blueprint 2006                             i
     Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns
     MSHDA, MEDC, & MML
Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns


                                           TABLE OF CONTENTS



       I. Project Overview.. .......................................... . I
       II. Downtown Utica Today. ...................................... 4

      Ill. Resident and Business Surveys.. .............................. I 2

       IV. Downtown Utica Tomorrow.. ................................ . I 7

        V. Downtown Market Analysis ................................... 2 1
                        Downtown Retail Opportunities

                        Downtown Office Opportunities

                        Downtown Housing Opportunities

       VI. Course of Action ........................................... . 3 7

      VII. Partnership for Success                 ..................................... 6 0
      VIII. Implementation Sequence ................................... 65

      Appendix ..................................................... 69
                MSHDA Memo
                The Retail Report@




     Utica Downtown Blueprint 2006
     Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns
     MSHDA, MEDC, & MML
Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns




                                                        Project
                                                       Overview




     Utica Downtown Blueprint 2006
     Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns
     MSHDA, MEDC, & MML
Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns

                                          I. PROJECT OVERVIEW

     This document presents the community's economic vision for Downtown Utica,
     as well as the findings of a market analysis conducted for Downtown.

     The boundaries of the project area are shown on the following page of this
     document.

     'The vision and the market analysis results were used as the foundation upon
     which to develop an economic enhancement strategy for Downtown Utica. The
     economic enhancement strategy was specifically crafted to further strengthen
     Downtown and to guide its future development - keeping with the community's
     vision and the market analysis findings.

     'The assignment was completed as part of the Cool Cities Blueprints for
     Michigan's Downtowns technical assistance program, a partnership of the
     Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the Michigan State
     Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), and the Michigan Municipal League
     (MML). The Utica Downtown Blueprint 2006 was completed by HyettPalma,
     Inc., with the involvement of the Process Committee formed by the City to
     oversee the project.

     'The methodology used to define the Utica Downtown Blueprint 2006 was
     developed by HyettPalma, Inc., and has been used extensively by the firm in
     Downtowns throughout the United States. To date, it forms the basis of the
     technical assistance progranis titled:

               America Downtown@                   --
                                           New Thinking. New Life., created by the
               National League of Cities and HyettPalma in 1992;

               lndiana Downtown@, created by the lndiana Association of Cities and
               Towns with HyettPalma in 2001; and

               Blueprints for Pennsylvania's Downtowns, created by the
               Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities and HyettPalma in
               2004.

     Utica Downtown Blueprint 2006                      2
     Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns
     MSHDA, MEDC, & MML
Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's D o w n t o w n s


              Downtown Utica
                   Blueprint Target Area




      Utica Downtown Blueprint 2006                     3
      Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns
      MSHDA. MEDC, & MML
Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's D o w n t o w n s




                                                        Downtown
                                                            Ufica
                                                           Today




      Utica Downtown Blueprint 2006
      Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns
      MSHDA, MEDC, & MML
Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's D o w n t o w n s

                                          II. DOWNTOWN UTlCA TODAY

      Following is a snapshot of Downtown Utica, as it stands today.

      Strengths
      Downtown Utica is fortunate to claim a variety of strengths that can be leveraged
      to attain the community's desired image for Downtown and to capture the
      economic potentials facing Downtown. Among these strengths are the following.

               Downtown contains a number of specialty businesses that currently act as
               destinations. These include a spa business, a home decorating shop,
               restaurants, and drinking establishments that offer evening entertainment.

               Downtown has retained several anchors traditionally found in Downtowns.
               These include the Municipal Building and the library, which draws users
               from throughout the region.

               Downtown is home to a number of churches, some of which have very
               large congregations.

               The Clinton River runs through Downtown, affording an opportunity to
               augment Downtown's charm, appeal, and draw. And, the City is building
               the Macomb-Orchard HikelBike Trail, a portion of which will run along the
               riverfront in Downtown.

               The City has had the foresight to designate the older portion of Downtown
               as a local historic district. As a result, a Historic District Commission is in
               place, which reviews the design of proposed changes to building exteriors,
               thereby protecting Downtown's architectural character and "old time feel."

               Several annual and popular events draw considerable numbers of people
               to Downtown. These events include the Ice Festival, Car Show, and
               Christmas Tree Lighting.




      Utica Downtown Blueprint 2006                     5
      Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns
      MSHDA, MEDC, & MML
Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns

              The City created a Downtown Developnlent Authority (DDA) in 1991.
              Through its Tax Increment Financing Authority, the DDA captures revenue
              of approximately $125,000 to $150,000 each year. Since its inception, the
              DDA's capture has been used to make improvements in Downtown.
              These improvements have been substantial and highly visible - including
              sidewalks, landscaping, and parking lots - and appear to have met with
              widespread approval by the community. In addition, the Mayor of Utica
              sits on the DDA Board and is a huge supporter of Downtown.

              The City has also made substantial infrastructure improvements in
              Downtown, beyond those made by the DDA.

              Members of the community, universally, have high praise for the current
              City administration - including the Mayor, City Council Members, and City
              staff - with the word "outstanding" most often used to describe the
              administration. This is very important in instilling and stimulating investor
              confidence in Downtown.

              The City's plar~r~ing commission has adopted policies that will have a
              positive impact on Downtown's future. These include a preference for
              mixed-use buildings, building heights of three to four stories (rather than
              single story structures), and retaining Downtown's pedestrian-orientation
              and appeal.

              Additional investment in Downtown is pending, on both the private and
              public sector fronts. Possible investments include the repaving of Auburn
              and Cass, construction of the Brownstone condominiums, and a new
              municipal building.

              Finally, Downtown enjoys a very favorable location. It is the center of
              what is known locally as the "Tri-Communities Area," which includes Utica,
              Sterling Heights, and Shelby Township. The area in which Downtown
              Utica is located is experiencing population growth, bringing with it strong
              income levels. High traffic counts are found on M-59, which borders
              Downtown. Historic neighborhoods are located adjacent to Downtown.
              And, Utica's is one of the few traditional Downtowns remaining in the area.


     Utica Downtown Blueprint 2006                     6
     Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns
     MSHDA, MEDC, & MML
Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns

     Concerns
     Community members who participated in the Downtown Blueprint process
     were asked to cite the concerns they thought needed to be addressed as part of
     Downtown's enhancement. The concerns raised most often and repeatedly
     were:

              Building vacancies;
              Business mix and the image that mix creates for Downtown;
              Building condition and appearance;
              Accessibility to Downtown and visibility of its businesses; and
              Downtown's need to succeed in the face of continuing northward
              commercial development.

     Desires
     Those participating in the Downtown Blueprint process were asked to describe
     their desires for Downtown, in terms of results that the Downtown Blueprint
     would foster. The desires most often cited were:

              Provide a strategy that acts as a catalyst and a spark for Downtown's
              further enhancement;

              Bring "outside eyes" and expertise to the effort;

              Provide a solid gameplan that is not "pie in the sky;"

              "Help Downtown find its niche" - so that it can draw additional customers,
              co-exist with other commercial venues, and give the City a positive image;

              Attract investors to Downtown;

              Define the next steps that should be taken, beyond the already made
              infrastructure improvements;

              Draw Auburn, Cass, and Van Dyke together as elements of a single
              business district;



     Utica Downtown Blueprint 2006                     7
     Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns
     MSHDA, MEDC, & MML
Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns

              Increase coordination and communication among organizations and
              volunteers; and

              Foster buy-in - on the part of business owners, property owners, and
              residents of the City as a whole.

     Image
     Community members participating in the Downtown Blueprint process were
     asked to define the image they hoped Downtown would have as a result of the
     enhancement effort. A summary of that image follows.

                               A quaint, historic, and cute Downtown
                          That has a hometown feel and an old time flavor.

                             A pedestrian, family-oriented Downtown
                       That attracts and accommodates people of all ages.

                    A Downtown with a sense of fun, unique businesses,
                  Great businesses, art, and entertainment - where there are
                      Lots of things to do and see for the whole family.

                             A clean, safe, and walking Downtown
                               That looks good, feels good, and
                   Has a great variety of shops that are unique and different.

                                   A Downtown that is located on the
                                  Beautiful Clinton River, where you can
                                   Hike, bike, fish, orjust sit and relax.

                         A successful, vibrant, and growing Downtown
                      That is bustling, refreshing, welcoming, and friendly,

                                   A place for the arts that is active,
                                Day and night, weekdays and weekends.

                          Come park, stroll, and be amazed by shops
                   That will make you want to come back to Downtown Utica
                                       Again and again!
     Utica Downtown Blueprint 2006                     8
     Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns
     MSHDA, MEDC, & MML
Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's D o w n t o w n s

      Guidelines
      Given the community's desires, concerns, and preferred image for Downtown,
      HyettPalma recommends that the following guidelines be embraced when
      implementing the Downtown Blueprint.

          1. Beyond Infrastructure - As was said earlier, the DDA and the City have
             made substantial infrastructure improvements in Downtown. Now, the
             time has come to go beyond those improvements to stimulate Downtown's
             economy. This will mean focusing on business development, private
             property improvements, and marketing initiatives.

           2. Image - Historic Downtown must retain the image of being an alternative
              to area-wide shopping malls, big box retailers, and lifestyle centers. This
              must entail keeping Downtown's quaint, historic, small town ambience and
              character.

           3. Silver Bullets - Those implementing the Downtown Blueprint niust
              recognize the fact that there are no "silver bullets" in the field of Downtown
              enhancement. Instead, all of the issues covered in the Downtown
              Blueprint must be addressed and kept in perspective - and, all actions
              recommended in the Downtown Blueprint must be implemented for the
              desired results to occur.

           4. Quality - The enhancement effort must stress and foster quality in all
              actions and elements of Downtown Utica. This must include all physical
              improvements, uses, businesses, and marketing.

               Economic Orientations - To make it a unique destination, Downtown
               niust be enhanced to have the following economic orientations. Auburn
               and Cass, ,from Auburn to Summers, should be pedestrian-oriented with
               first floor spaces filled with a cluster of specialty retail, food, art, and
               entertainment uses. Housing in upper floors of buildings in this area
               should be encouraged where at all possible. Van Dyke should be
               recognized as an auto-oriented corridor, where the economic orientation
               should be convenience retail, auto services, professional services, and
               housing in mixed-use or free-standing buildings.



      Utica Downtown Blueprint 2006                     9
      Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns
      MSHDA, MEDC, & MML
Cool Cities Blueprints f o r Michigan's Downtowns


          6. Physical Orientations - Auburn and Cass, from Auburn to Summers,
             must retain its small town, hometown, quaint, and pedestrian-oriented
             image. This should be done by strengthening and recreating the
             streetwall in this area, so that buildings are located at the sidewalk with
             parking on-street and at building rears. In addition, consideration should
             be given to reclaiming the name "IWain Street" for Aubl-~rn, order to
                                                                              in
             reinforce this image. And, this area should be positioned as "Historic
             Downtown Utica." The physical orientation of Van Dyke should be created
             by encouraging medium density development, mixed-use buildings, and
             redevelopment of underutilized properties that creates an "old town look,"
             while still being auto-oriented.

         7. Historic 100% Corner - The intersection of Auburn and Cass is the
            "100% corner" of the historic portion of Downtown Utica. In large part, the
            image created at this very visible intersection becomes the image for
            Downtown as a whole. Therefore, the utmost care should be taken to
            create a positive and appealing image here, via both physical
            improvements and uses.

          8. Gateways - The historic portion of Downtown Utica is not very visible at
             this time to niotorists on M-59 and Van Dyke. To make passing motorists
             more aware of this hidden gem, a variety of gateways should be created,
             as recommended in this Downtown Blueprint.

          9. Community Life - Downtown should be and become known as the hub of
             community life in Utica. This means that all major anchors serving the
             broader community should be located in Downtown. And, all of the
             community's major, annual special events should be held in Downtown.

          10. Business Recruitment - A personal, one-on-one approach s h o ~ ~ be  ld
              taken to recruiting tlie desired and appropriate types of businesses to
              Downtown.

          11.0wner-Occupants - The enhancement effort should be used to
             encourage business owners to purchase and occupy buildings in
             Downtown, rather than having buildings owned by absentees.

     Utica Downtown Blueprint 2006                     10
     Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns
     MSHDA, MEDC, & MML
Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns



          12. Beyond 2012 - Current legislation has the DDA sunsetting and going out
              of business in 2012. Those involved in the enhancement effort should
              comrr~itto continuing the DDA - and the enhancement of Downtown -
              beyond that date.

          13.Adjacent Neighborhoods - As was said earlier, one of Downtown's
             strengths is the historic neighborhoods located adjacent to Downtown.
             Since these neighborhoods provide a built-in base of potential customers
             for Downtown, they should be protected and their enhancement
             encouraged.

          14. Targeted Actions - In order to attain the community's vision for
              Downtown, and the economic potentials facing Downtown, it will be
              essential to irr~plementthe Downtown Blueprint in its entirety. The
                                               in
              targeted actions recomrr~ended the Blueprint were specifically selected
              so that the needed and desired tangible results can be realized.
              Therefore, the specific and targeted actions recommended should be
              implemented and those leading the effort s h o ~ ~ l adhere to the
                                                                   d
              recorr~mended  ganieplan for its five-year duration.




     Utica Downtown Blueprint 2006
     Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns
     MSHDA, MEDC, & MML

								
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