Lathrup Village Mayor Kelly Garrett and City Administrator Sheryl Mitchell make announcements Aug. 9 at an informational meeting on the Lathrup Village Downtown Development Authority.

Lathrup Village Mayor Kelly Garrett and City Administrator Sheryl Mitchell make announcements Aug. 9 at an informational meeting on the Lathrup Village Downtown Development Authority.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Lathrup Village DDA seeks feedback at forum

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published August 13, 2019

 Mike McClanaghan, of MDM Sales, listens during a presentation at the meeting.

Mike McClanaghan, of MDM Sales, listens during a presentation at the meeting.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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LATHRUP VILLAGE — Local business owners and residents got better acquainted with their Downtown Development Authority over lunch recently. 

On Aug. 9, the Lathrup Village DDA hosted a Lunch and Learn session at Lathrup Village City Hall. 

Attendees of the free session enjoyed a catered lunch while representatives from the Lathrup Village DDA and Main Street Oakland County gave presentations on the goals and objectives for the city this year. 

Lathrup Village DDA Director and Manager of Community Economic Development Susie Stec said the meeting stems from a new state regulatory requirement that DDAs must have a minimum of two meetings per year. 

“(The meetings) let the masses know exactly what the DDA’s goals and objectives are, our plans, our pie in the sky dreams, what those might be,” she said. “Quite frankly, I’d like to get some feedback from all of you to see what your thoughts are on that and if you have some ideas. I’m all ears.” 

Stec said many communities around Lathrup Village have DDAs, but Lathrup Village stands out for a variety of reasons. 

“We are somewhat nontraditional in that we don’t have a traditional downtown. We don’t have that small little grid setup that, say, Berkley does or Clawson,” she said. “We have wonderful Southfield Road, and this is our main commercial thoroughfare.” 

Established by state law in 1975, DDAs were formed to foster economic development in communities, Stec said. 

The Lathrup Village DDA was formed in 1998 by the City Council. The district lies on Southfield Road, between Lincoln and 12 Mile roads. 

Stec said the group has big plans this year to improve Southfield Road, but it has started out small by putting banners up along the road. 

“We figured a pop of color was the first start,” she said. “It’s been a long time since there were banners out there. It needed some TLC. That’s the first big, broad goal, is really work on improving the curb appeal.”

Stec said she’d also like to see some additional garbage cans along the road, as well as more landscaping, lighting and streetscaping. 

“One of the other goals we have, very broadly, is to support local businesses in any way we can. We’ve been discussing … highlighting a business of the month. So we’ve been talking about establishing that type of program,” Stec said. 

Stec said the DDA is working on placemaking and updating the city’s master plan. 

John Bry,  a Main Street Oakland County program manager, said the program is the first and only of its kind in the U.S.

“We like to use the analogy, since we’re in the Motor City area, that the DDA is kind of the body of the vehicle, and the Main Street program are your wheels to move it all forward,” he said. 

There are currently 25 downtowns in the Main Street program: Auburn Hills, Berkley, Birmingham, Clarkston, Clawson, Farmington, Ferndale, Franklin, Groveland Township, Hazel Park, Highland Township, Holly, Holly Township, Lake Orion, Lathrup Village, Leonard, Madison Heights, Oak Park, Ortonville, Oxford, Pontiac, Rochester, Royal Oak, South Lyon and Wixom.

Bry said that although Lathrup Village’s downtown is not traditional, that’s not a cause for concern. 

“With the Lathrup Village history, the city was platted with a downtown in its center. It just never really got off the ground because of the Depression and then World War II, and then after World War II, we decided in America to screw up our downtowns and do everything with highways and malls and the design all changed, and planning and technology and transportation changed,” he said. 

To help the downtown thrive, Bry suggested mixing Lathrup’s original downtown plan and the plan of the downtown now. 

“Chances are there is a community out there around the country that is having the same conversations, thinking about the same things that you, are that has already done it,” he said. “And when people say, ‘That can’t be done,’ one of my favorite quotes is, ‘They’re usually interrupted by somebody who has done it.’”

The second informational meeting will be held Nov. 19, Stec said. 

Call Staff Writer Kayla Dimick at (586) 279-1108. 

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