City offers online questionnaire for Southfield corridor plans

By: Jessica Strachan | Southfield Sun | Published June 26, 2013

LATHRUP VILLAGE — The city, in cooperation with its Downtown Development Authority, is hoping to capture a day in the life of a Lathrup Village resident and even those who live near and visit the community. Or rather, what locals hope it to be.

A 44-question survey that can now be found on Lathrup Village’s official website covers an array of lifestyle inquiries about shopping, dining and having an evening out. As part of a larger market analysis, city officials want the collected data to be considered as they envision a well-populated Southfield corridor, or stretch of Southfield Road that runs through  Lathrup Village.

“It’s difficult here to grocery shop, grab a quick and inexpensive bite for lunch or have a nice dinner on the weekends. We know there’s a lot of people leaving to do those things,” Matt Baumgarten, assistant city administrator and DDA executive director, said. “We are all in this together; we all have to drive to go anywhere we want to go. But we want to cut down on that and know we can do everything we want to right here near my house. That ties us to our home region.”

According to City Administrator Jeff Mueller, similar market analysis projects have been done before — even being the catalyst for Michigan First’s headquarters — and the idea has proven to allow community members to “create demand” by giving their honest and anonymous opinions.

“We want an update on what residents need and want to see here,” Mueller explained. “If there’s a need and a want, then we know they will be willing to support the businesses, and that’s what we want — to see them flourish.”

Fresh markets and more cafés/dining options are some of the things Mueller and Baumgarten anticipate locals hoping to see.

Both of those types of establishments fit well into the “Village Center” vision the DDA and city administrators are expanding upon, too.

“It harkens back to the old days, where the social, cultural and community hub was all downtown,” Baumgarten said. “Where there are concerts, fun activities happening and local retailers hosting events.”

Baumgarten added that it’s not just the 4,000 city dwellers whose opinions they seek, either, but neighbors from surrounding communities, so Lathrup Village can expand on its strength as a destination town.

Questions participants can expect to find on the survey, which takes about 15 minutes to complete, include how much one spends on groceries each week and where, how often one dines out and any favorite hotspots, the amount of interest one has in art shows and finding collectibles, most-frequented sporting events, and outdoor activity or weekend entertainment habits.

The survey also captures the types of activities community members are most interested in and specifics like whether fresh markets or big-box stores are preferred.

In addition to lifestyle questions and interests, the survey collects demographic data at the end and several hypothetical questions that gauge participants’ plans as residents in the area.

Officials say — and the website reminds participants — that the survey is strictly confidential and that personal information won’t be asked, “nor do we have any way of identifying your name, address, email or other specific information for the person or residence responding to the questionnaire,” the survey introduction explains.

For those who may be uncomfortable answering a certain question on the survey, it can be passed on, and the next question may still be answered.

It’s free to take, was generated by Survey Monkey, an online tool to create and publish surveys, and will remain on the website through August. City administrators and DDA members will then work with The Chesapeake Group, a development and financial advisory services agency that has offices in Maryland and Michigan, to draw up a full report.

For more information and to find the survey, visit