Roseville takes new steps in improving Utica Junction area

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published February 11, 2019

ROSEVILLE — The former site of a demolished building will soon be home to a public dining, shopping, residential and gathering space as part of the city of Roseville’s ongoing revitalization plans for the Utica Junction area.

Utica Junction, which encompasses the area along Gratiot Avenue where it intersects with Utica Road, has long been considered the heart of Roseville. As the economic center of Roseville, the city has been taking new steps in recent years to bring more businesses and residents into that part of the community.

“It’s all part of an ongoing effort to improve the area,” said Roseville City Manager Scott Adkins. “We have started in 2018 by improving the water mains along Utica Road and in the Utica Junction area. We will be moving into another phase of this up through 13 Mile. We want to get the underground infrastructure taken care of first. DTE will be taking care of underground wiring and lighting work starting in, we believe, May.”

Adkins said these improvements have already brought five new businesses to the Gratiot corridor near Utica Road. The newest addition to the area is what city developers are calling the “alley space.”

“The idea was driven by removing a blighted building, and public input said that was an area people wanted to see addressed, and people also wanted a public space. This was judged to be the best use for this area,” said Adkins. “(It will) serve as a creative space or a space for weekend markets and special events. It is located in the row of buildings between Victor (Street) and Utica on Gratiot. A building was demolished there, and we want to reuse that space as something good for the community.”

This growth was made possible thanks in part to predevelopment assistance from the Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s Redevelopment Ready Communities program and the Michigan Municipal League.

“We’re pleased to provide Roseville with some valuable development tools,” Dan Gilmartin, CEO and executive director of the Michigan Municipal League, said in a press release. “These resources will help transform their historic commercial corridor into a walkable area full of the amenities that appeal to residents, businesses and developers.”

Adkins said the assistance provided by the two organizations has been invaluable and was a key factor in jump-starting improvements within the city.

“We’ve been getting what’s known as technical assistance for the last year to do things like finding grants and looking at different proposals that could help the city,” explained Adkins. “This will be continuing as we move forward. … We already have gotten some grants — such as one last year that was shifted forward to this year — to help improve the streetscape from (the Michigan Department of Transportation).”

Adkins said growth will continue throughout the Utica Junction area, although specifics are difficult to determine more than a year or two in advance.

“There’s never going to be an endgame to the plan, because it’s always changing and priorities are shifting,” he said. “Phase two, which starts this year, will include the expansion of residential space, particularly on second stories both on (buildings on) Gratiot and (buildings) on and branching off of Utica through either changing existing space or new construction.”

Adkins said Roseville is looking at several new options for additional improvements along the Gratiot corridor, but no matter what direction the work takes, the constant factor will be its goals.

“The ultimate goal will be to improve the tax base and draw in more businesses while ensuring we retain connectivity to existing neighborhoods,” said Adkins. “We’ve seen the infrastructure work begin in 2018. The next phase focusing on residential properties is starting this year. By January 2020, all of the new electrical work will be done. It’s ongoing, and we will be building on our successes, so there’s no set end date for work on this area of the city, because the work is never done.”