Mount Clemens receives state funding for Cherry Street shopping center redesign – Macomb Daily

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A key stretch of downtown Mount Clemens is awaiting a major overhaul that officials say will improve its appearance, remove structural barriers for area stores and improve the overall shopping environment.

Earlier this month, the city received an $813,000 grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation that will be used for a $1.6 plan to improve walking and connectivity at Cherry Street Mall.

Plans call for a number of improvements to Cherry Street, starting with the Fountain Stage on Macomb Place to the Irish pub Three Blind Mice and making the shopping center area more user-friendly.

“We want to make Cherry Street a more walkable space and create places with more public places,” Mayor Laura Kropp said. “We’ve had a lot of issues with flooding in store basements which we also want to address, which will make it more economically viable to do business there.”

The Michigan Strategic Fund grant is among the largest ever received by Mount Clemens, according to the mayor.

The project includes:

• Implemented a new roof and redesigned the fountain scene

• Creation of green infrastructure, including a vegetable garden to absorb rainwater

• Demolition of the existing pavement, addition of permeable concrete to eliminate depressions in the pavement in order to eliminate water infiltration in the businesses of the region.

• Addition of two new esplanades and undergrounding of overhead power lines

• Replacement of a number of trees with new ones

To pay for the project, the city uses the state grant, plus a portion of the city’s fund balance, and the DDA contributes a portion. So far, they’ve racked up about $1.3 million and also applied for a grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation to cover the additional costs.

City leaders said they were told by state officials that their plan ranked in the top 10 of a total of 180 projects submitted for funding.

“Our grant writer said we checked all the boxes,” said Michelle Weiss, retail coordinator for the DDA.

Work on Cherry Street Mall is designed to be completed in two phases beginning next spring.

Eleven-year-old Miles Kropp, son of Mayor Laura Kropp, plays a tune on the city’s powder-coated steel instruments that have been installed on Cherry Street Mall. Instruments can easily be removed to accommodate an upcoming construction project. (MITCH HOTTS—DAILY MACOMB)

The power of positive thinking may have played a role in getting the funding. The DDA had already spent $14,000 to begin design work on the area, not knowing that a grant would help turn it into reality.

That planning line had not been used in the past due to Mount Clemens’ budget issues, officials said.

“We were very lucky to get this project together like a dream and when we got word of a grant, they were looking for people with something already in the works, we were ready to go,” Weiss said.

According to Kropp, recently retired city manager Donald Johnson helped change the mindset of city hall employees.

“One of our issues was that we were never prepared because our budgetary position prevented us from going after those grants because we didn’t want to disappoint the public,” Kropp said. “We had to change that mindset among the staff.”

Kropp said he learned from his membership in SEMCOG that there are a multitude of organizations to help.

“We never stood in line,” she explained.

“But then we were approached with two more grants, including a street lighting project across the county. It was like a culture shift. People were like, ‘Laura, are you crazy? We can’t not do that. But we have to think in more positive terms.

The grant is part of $83 million in funding for 22 Michigan statewide community development projects under the Revitalization And Placemaking (RAP) program, announced by Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the MEDC .

The RAP program aims to stimulate investments in economic growth to proactively address the negative economic impacts of COVID-19 in the traditional downtown, and which address the inventory of vacant office, retail and community space and underutilized due to the pandemic by supporting efforts to repurpose them for the community to benefit from.

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