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Lathrup Village

March 27, 2013

Lathrup ready to recharge with development

By Jessica Strachan
C & G Staff Writer

LATHRUP VILLAGE — Re-emerging from what Assistant City Administrator Matt Baumgarten calls “Michigan’s lost decade,” the city of Lathrup Village is gearing up to be on the front lines of progressive redevelopment in the state.

This month, it was announced that Lathrup Village is one of eight Michigan communities chosen for the Redevelopment Ready program hosted by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

“This helps us make sure that when a developer comes through our front door, we are ready,” Baumgarten said. “We see this as just one of the things that will be a catalyst for jumpstarting redevelopment in our community. Developers are starting to look at places where they can go through the process the quickest, and this will make our community more attractive to developers.”

This is the first round of communities to participate in the statewide launch of the Redevelopment Ready Communities program, according to the MEDC.

“We are excited to take this valuable program statewide,” MEDC President and CEO Michael Finney said in the press release. “Improving the redevelopment readiness of communities is another tool to attract investment and economic growth in Michigan.”

According to the MDEC website, when a community becomes certified as a Redevelopment Ready Community, it signals that it has worked to remove redevelopment barriers by means of practices like clear procedures, a community-supported vision and a transparent review process. “RRC communities know what kind of community they want to be and are ‘open for business,’” according to the website.

MDEC published a list of best practices around the state when it comes to redevelopment, but Baumgarten said one of the things that stood out about Lathrup Village was that it had already been collecting similar research and harnessing that development potential.

“We were already looking at our internal processes and incorporating those best practices; that’s one of the things that gave us a leg up. We are already believers in this,” he said. “They saw us as opportunity for success.”

With the Redevelopment Ready designation in place, the next step for Lathrup Village is working to finish a review with MDEC to establish three sites that are ready for redevelopment in the city limits.

“We will be looking at what will give us the biggest bang for our buck, and they will help us advertise the sites statewide. MEDC keeps a list of properties that they showcase,” Baumgarten explained.

He added that being a community in the metro Detroit area, situated on the “heavily traveled” Southfield corridor, works in the city’s favor. Mixed use redevelopment — which would combine office space, retail and living space — is what city officials believe works best with the master plan, according to Baumgarten.

“We are taking advantage of every opportunity we can … to help us organize our downtown and push towards fulfilling our master plan.”

Among the other eight communities that received Redevelopment Ready evaluation, Lansing, East Lansing, Ann Arbor and Novi accompanied Lathrup Village in being chosen out of 36 applicants. Communities receiving best practice training and assistance include Clawson, Dearborn, Farmington Hills and Hamtramck.

Redevelopment Ready Communities is a program that aims to measure and certify cities that integrate transparency, predictability and efficiency into their daily development practices, consequently securing partnerships with more developers. The program was originally launched in 2003 by the Michigan Suburbs Alliance and supports innovative economic and community growth.

For more information on the Redevelopment Ready Communities and the MEDC and its initiatives, visit www.MichiganAdvantage.org.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Jessica Strachan at jstrachan@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1108.