Grosse Pointe City expected to submit Main Street application to state this week

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published December 3, 2019

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GROSSE POINTE CITY — Kercheval Avenue in the Grosse Pointes already has the look and feel of a traditional “Main Street,” and now leaders in Grosse Pointe City are trying to make that even more official.

The City is hoping to get its Village business district designated as a Michigan Main Street. Leaders took the final step in the initial process when the Grosse Pointe City Council unanimously approved a resolution in support of Main Street principles during a meeting Nov. 18.

The Michigan Main Street Center at the Michigan Economic Development Corp. offers consulting services to communities that commit to Main Street’s four-pronged approach of economic vitality, design and maintenance to improve the district’s aesthetic appeal, organization to build community and stakeholder consensus, and promotion of the district through special events and marketing an appealing image.

City Manager Pete Dame said the deadline to apply for Michigan Main Street consideration is Dec. 6.

Officials hope that, if they receive this designation, they can learn best practices from other Main Street participants as well as facilitators in order to attract new businesses, retain the businesses they have, bring in more visitors and otherwise improve the vibrancy of the Village.

The typical Main Street program budget is $150,000 to $190,000, which includes roughly $50,000 for a full-time executive director for the City’s program, said Leigh Young, a Main Street specialist with the Michigan Economic Development Corp., during a June 17 City Council meeting. Funds can’t just come from tax increment finance, or TIF, dollars; she said there needs to be buy-in from the stakeholders — the City, businesses and the community.

A city often contributes $20,000 to $50,000 toward the total budget, but not necessarily in dollars — it might be in paying for access to city benefits and the like, Young said. She said that many member communities offer façade grants to businesses; for example, a city might give $5,000 to $10,000 to businesses that are willing to redo their facades. Young said the City doesn’t need to have the funds on hand, but does need to create a fundraising plan.

In the case of the City, the Downtown Development Authority Board would become the City’s local Main Street organization, Young said. The Michigan Main Street Center works with communities, providing assistance, direction, support and knowledge.

The City has already approved some funding toward the Main Street initiative. At a meeting Sept. 16, the council voted unanimously in favor of contributing $25,000 toward the program, with an anticipated match of $25,000 in private contributions, for a total of $50,000.

As Dame explained to the council, the Michigan Main Street program prefers to see funding coming from a mix of private and public donations from the City, the Downtown Development Authority, businesses and individuals. State officials have told City leaders that municipalities typically contribute about $20,000 to $35,000 for this program. City officials are hoping to receive at least some financial support from the nonprofit City of Grosse Pointe Foundation.

“We all want this to succeed,” City Councilman Andrew Turnbull said in September.

City Councilman Daniel Williams said in September that it will be up to City officials to get widespread support for Main Street.

“It’s incumbent on us to sell this,” Williams said.

City Councilwoman Sheila Tomkowiak — who was elected as mayor in November — agreed that Main Street is important for the City.

“We’re all on board,” she said in September.

At the November meeting, Dame said he’s hopeful that the City will receive Main Street designation for the Village in spring 2020.

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