Royal OakFebruary 20, 2013
DDA targets streetscaping, parking for improvements
By Chris Jackett
C & G Staff Writer
ROYAL OAK — The Downtown Development Authority recently got together to discuss the direction the downtown area should take during the next year.
The two biggest items of discussion during the two-and-a-half-hour meeting Feb. 9 were “streetscaping” and parking improvements. Streetscaping includes bringing the various downtown city blocks up to par with one another when it comes to lighting, plants and the overall look.
“The plan all along has been to complete all the streetscaping downtown,” said Jay Dunstan, DDA chairman. “And we’re looking at parking and parking technology. Besides just parking, we’re looking at parking technology in maybe some of the garages.”
Dunstan, who has been a DDA member for the past two years, recently took over the chairman position from term-limited Jim Domanski of Pronto!
With streetscaping as the top priority, Dunstan said the square block enclosed by Fourth, Third, Troy and Williams has been targeted for improvements this summer, and a bid posting is expected to go out within the next month.
He also said parking improvements will be looked at systematically, as opposed to a quick reaction to new business openings. He noted the addition of Hamlin Corners on the north end of downtown could create an additional parking burden at that location.
Dunstan would also like to see technology utilized so drivers will be able to determine where parking spots are available through a mobile application or the www. downtownroyaloak.org website, which currently shows the parking lots and garages’ locations and capacities, but not their live number of vacant parking spaces.
“What we’re trying to do is concentrate on bricks and mortar. We’re trying to bring more retail in,” Dunstan said. “We wanted to make sure there are things we can do within our budget.”
Among other budgeted items is a façade grant program where $10,000 is available to be split up for façade improvements at various businesses. Dunstan said the DDA would continue to spend $75,000 to fund three dedicated downtown police officer positions.
He said the DDA would also like to see other groups take up more of a role in both the Holiday Magic Parade and Spooktacular events so the DDA can focus on developing the downtown area.
“We’re not trying to get rid of these events; we just want to pass them on to other groups,” Dunstan said.
With a broadcast television campaign, the holiday lights and various special events on the docket, the DDA is working closely together with the Royal Oak Association of Retailers, Royal Oak Restaurant Association and the city to move the downtown forward as a destination location for all.
“The restaurant association and the retailers and us are working very good together, very friendly,” Dunstan said. “I think this is a well-kept secret what we’re doing, the work that we’re doing together.
“I’m hoping next year we can expand the holiday lights.”
DDA Executive Director Tim Thwing, who is also the city’s planning director, did not respond to several messages seeking comment last week.
For more information on the DDA, visit www.downtownroyaloak.org.