Work continues on the Sterling Heights Community Center, near Dodge Park and Utica roads.

Work continues on the Sterling Heights Community Center, near Dodge Park and Utica roads.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Sterling Heights issues economic activity progress report

Road work, Lakeside, development projects highlight report

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published October 25, 2019

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STERLING HEIGHTS — City investments in roads, infrastructure and more are paying off as more businesses make Sterling Heights their home, according to a report at an Oct. 15 City Council meeting.

Luke Bonner, the city’s senior economic development adviser, gave an economic update presentation and said Sterling Heights has benefited from about $2.1 billion in residential, commercial and industrial investments over the past five years. Within that time period, the city also has boosted its gross regional product by approximately $7.8 billion, officials said.

“The (presentation’s) theme really is, quality public investment has been stimulating quality private investment in the community,” he said.

Bonner added that the city benefited from $300 million in public investment in that same period, including money that went toward the Innovate Mound project. He called Innovate Mound — which will reconstruct the road and insert high-tech bells and whistles — a “best-in-class private-public partnership” that involves a nearly $100 million federal grant.

Also among the recent public investments, he said, was a $30 million resurfacing project of M-59 that also added fresh landscaping and public art. He said the project has “certainly cemented the Golden Corridor for the foreseeable future.”

The city’s millage-funded Recreating Recreation park renovation campaign earned credit as a way to bring a “sense of place” around Dodge Park. Bonner marveled at the progress on the nearby community center, which is still under construction but nearing completion.

“It is starting to look absolutely amazing, and driving in today just to see where the glass is on the building and where the sun is actually coming into the building from that angle, this is really shaping out to be a beautiful project,” he said.

Bonner also praised a series of private investments in the city over the past several years. For instance, he mentioned how several businesses made Sterling Enterprise Park their home, including the recent opening of HTI Cybernetics’ headquarters. And he described how a former athletic park, Liberty Park, has turned into a massive industrial facility.

He praised the new hotels and the credit union headquarters at 15 Mile Road and Van Dyke Avenue, partly attributing the developments to approximately $40 million spent a few years ago on Van Dyke Avenue’s makeover, complete with road, landscaping, infrastructure and signage improvements.

“The headquarters itself ... may be some of the coolest office space anywhere in southeastern Michigan,” he said. “For the longest time, I think, developers were afraid to do anything above a single-story in a typical suburb. But this project, I feel, is really proving to be an opportunity that you can go vertically on projects within a suburban community with success.”

Bonner said the city is planning to curate a “Manufacturers Engage” forum for local industrial businesses to discuss their challenges and needs.

“As we look at 2020 and beyond, and coinciding with the city’s 2030 vision, you know, there’s a real focus on innovation in terms of what economic development is going to be focusing on,” he said.

The city has high hopes for the empty Target building along Van Dyke, north of 15 Mile. The goal is to put some sort of mixed-use development there, and talks are ongoing with the property owners, Bonner said.

Lakeside’s future is also beginning to take shape, and an unidentified developer has taken interest in steering it, Bonner said.

“It is an out-of-state real estate developer. It has a fairly strong track record of development, both retail, residential and commercial,” he said.

In addition, Sterling Heights recently earned a five-star rating from the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Center for Innovation Research and its iLabs eCities study.

The program gives five-star honors to almost 180 Michigan cities for pro-economic and entrepreneurial policies, using benchmarks such as property values and tax rates.

In a statement, Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor thanked city employees and officials for making the developments possible, including those who handle planning, zoning, assessing, building and more.

“It also takes strategy,” he said. “The city has been very intentional with our quality public investments over the past several years, which has had a strong impact on creating a desirable community where businesses simply want to be.”

Sterling Heights can be reached by visiting www.sterling-heights.net or by calling (586) 446-2489. Find out more about the eCities study by visiting www.umdilabs.com/ecities.

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