(posted with permission from Mayor Gretchen Driskell)
Someday you will see this sign in my downtown.
Our community is continually recreating our downtown. Since I moved here years 23 years ago the energy has changed. The catalyst was Bill Kinley’s development, Murphy’s Crossing, which houses shops, Mac’s restaurant, and multiple offices completed in the 90s. Since then our compact downtown has added multiple events, businesses and one failed (to-date) development.
This winter, our community will be applying to receive top level strategic support for place making through the Michigan Main Street (MSHDA) program. MSHDA, recognizing the importance of quality of life in retaining talent, contracted with the National Main Street program in 2003 to provide training and support to a few select communities in Michigan. Michigan’s program (in 16 cities) has already gained national recognition even while joining over 2,000 towns in 43 states throughout the nation. To receive the Select level award, a rigorous review is made of our long term community commitment to revitalization.
Why do we want to make this commitment? Our downtown is the heart and soul of our community. The heritage of our community, as evidenced by the architecture, is here. A vibrant downtown is a good incubator of local owned businesses and reduces sprawl. We come together to celebrate and play here. Most importantly, downtown is a symbol of our community economic health. Follow our progress through our Route (20)12 to Main Street blog.
Why would you want to loiter here today? To be at one of the best bakeries in the county, where the pastries melt in your mouth and the Saturday pretzel line is out the door. Because the parking is free. To walk to 212 Arts Center and take a pottery class. For the new restaurants in town, family-owned Mangiamo and the Downtown Diner. To watch the European style florist work her craft. For our shops, brimming with seasonal delights, or the twinkle of the holiday lights that brings a new glow to the evening. How about wine tasting or making at our local winery, Spotted Dog? Or best of all, watching the world go by while seated on the street furniture/sculpture, “Seats of our Heritage”.
Our continued commitment to the future of downtown will be evidenced in multiple areas. Further development of our pocket parks, a sculpture walk, a market pavilion and an improved streetscape that enhances the pedestrian experience are at the top of the list for design improvements. Main Street program tools for entrepreneur support and recruitment will help us in the development of the failed downtown project, possibly bringing a boutique hotel and additional entertainment opportunities. We are in the final stages of implementing a form-based code in our downtown, bringing flexibility and better design guidelines to our planning process.
The success of our downtown lies in the people who have found it a place to loiter on occasion. Daily, weekly, or monthly there is always a friendly face and a new discovery awaiting you.
I encourage you to join the group of volunteers that are spearheading this campaign to become a Michigan Main Street community. Sign up to help, send a letter of support, and help spread the word. Find the information you need at http://www.downtownsaline.org.