Lathrup certified as state’s fourth Redevelopment Ready Community

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published November 18, 2015

 The Redevelopment Ready certification is displayed during a ceremony at 11 a.m. Nov. 6 in the Community Room of City Hall.

The Redevelopment Ready certification is displayed during a ceremony at 11 a.m. Nov. 6 in the Community Room of City Hall.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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LATHRUP VILLAGE — As the city motto states, Lathrup Village is known for beautiful homes and great neighbors, but city officials are working to make the city not only attractive to homeowners, but business owners and investors too.

A handful of city and local elected officials, in addition to representatives from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, met in the Community Room of City Hall Nov. 6 to announce Lathrup Village’s certification as a Redevelopment Ready Community.

Lathrup Village follows Roseville, Allegan and Eastpointe in the certification.

Redevelopment Ready Communities is a free certification program supporting community revitalization and the attraction and retention of businesses, entrepreneurs and talent throughout Michigan. The project helps communities create places where people want to live, work and invest, according to the MEDC.

In May 2014, the city was evaluated by the RRC program and was notified of several areas in need of improvement in order to be certified.

City Administrator Matt Baumgarten, the City Council, the Planning Commission and the Downtown Development Authority all worked to bring their practices, policies and procedures in line with RRC guidelines.

City officials worked to create a vision for a new city center, a six-year capital improvement plan,  streamlined processes for reviewing site plans, identifying redevelopment sites and marketing the city,  and an economic development strategy.

“We want to take that step, actually putting ourselves out there and letting people know Lathrup Village is ready to be reformed,” Baumgarten said. “We want a commercial district that emphasizes how beautiful our neighborhoods are. We want you to drive down Southfield Road and really just be wowed.”

Baumgarten said that during the assessment, it was discovered that the city was already on the right track for redevelopment.

“They handed us a self-assessment, and we went through item by item and found out that we were already starting to do a lot of these things. We already understood the importance of much of these items and what they mean to the city,” he said.

Jennifer Rigterink, manager of Redevelopment Ready Communities, echoed Baumgarten’s statement that Lathrup Village was already ready to redevelop before the certification.

“As Matt said, the city was already on this path of, ‘Here’s our vision, how do we get there?’” Rigterink said.

Newly elected City Council members Donna Stallings and Ian Ferguson attended the event, as well as Councilwoman Maria Mannarino Thompson.

Mayor Frank Brock said the certification will bring the city into the 21st century.

“We need to reimagine what we’re doing with the business district and bring it into modern times,” Brock said.

James Jackson, regional representative for U.S. Sen. Gary Peters; Christine Jensen, district director for U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence; state Sen. Vincent Gregory; and state Rep. Jeremy Moss also attended the event.

Gregory said he was happy to call himself a resident of the city.

“It’s a sign that the city is moving forward, unlike so many cities that are waiting for ideas to redevelop and move forward. Lathrup has taken the bull by the horns, so to say, and has taken the initiative to take steps to move forward,” Gregory said.

Moss commended the city for its efforts in thinking ahead.

“Here, Lathrup Village has stood up and said we’re not going to be complacent. We’re not going to leave these buildings tired, worn, and we’re going to take initiative to move our city forward and start the next cycle of development for Lathrup Village,” Moss said.

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