Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon said losing businesses like big box stores is “just a sign of the times.” Cannon and other township officials are hoping to revitalize areas on the Groesbeck Highway corridor, like this vacant lot that used to host a Kmart, pictured in 2017.

Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon said losing businesses like big box stores is “just a sign of the times.” Cannon and other township officials are hoping to revitalize areas on the Groesbeck Highway corridor, like this vacant lot that used to host a Kmart, pictured in 2017.

File photo by Jon Malavolti

Strategic plan to examine future of Clinton Township

Groesbeck remains a major piece of the puzzle

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published October 3, 2019


CLINTON TOWNSHIP — A community advancement firm has been hired to facilitate and advance a strategic plan for how Clinton Township will change and develop into the future.

OHM Advisors, a collaborative firm complete with more than 500 employees in 16 different cities, works in the service areas of planning, engineering, architecture and more.

OHM was one of seven firms to submit a request for proposal, with four firms ultimately being interviewed by the township. Prices ranged from about $38,000 to over $110,000. OHM was the lowest bidder, with the Board of Trustees approving the firm at no more than $38,500.

Aaron Domini, the project manager and lead facilitator of OHM, said the six- to nine-month timeline is generalized in four main phases: launching the strategic plan, which involves community surveys and data review; building interest, trust and knowledge; building on momentum; and finalizing the plan.

“It’s about the process, not about the plan,” Domini said.

He said OHM has completed 20 to 30 strategic plans over the past year in communities of different sizes, including Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh. There’s no one-size-fits all mentality for each community, as local officials should push what they believe are desirable goals that are rooted in reality.

Trustee Ken Pearl said Clinton Township has constraints, including minimal financing for branding.

“We’re looking for something for a future that everybody wants in the township, that the residents and businesspeople want to see,” Pearl said.

Treasurer Paul Gieleghem said this process is “a function of where we are in time,” mentioning the township’s location within Macomb County, along with aspects like aging infrastructure.

“We’ve, for 40 years and many decades, we’ve been a growing community,” he said. “We didn’t have to go out and fight for it. We had the economic development and new residents and new projects coming to us.”

He said people look for a sense of pride, and a reason to stay and be a part of the township’s continued success. Economically, many felt the burden of the recession when they were on the cusp of retirement.

“It screams (that) we absolutely need to do this,” he said.

A plan that involves everybody
The Board of Trustees also unanimously approved to go out for bid for a request for proposal for a Groesbeck Highway market study and corridor plan.

Introduced to board members as an “addendum” to the township’s 2019 master plan, this new plan intends to “produce both a short-term and long-term enhancement strategy” for the corridor, including outlining “existing conditions, provide marketing information for property redevelopment, and prepare a framework plan and strategies for overall corridor enhancements.”

Township Planning Director Bruce Thompson said the intention is for the study to include information that alludes to current market trends, so that the plan can be optimized to retain current businesses and attract new ones.

Trends could include having brick buildings along Groesbeck, more landscaping, or streetscape treatments.

“You can’t know where you’re going unless you know what you’ve got,” Thompson said.

On Oct. 1, Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon said that to him, the future doesn’t involve what he or other board members think, but rather what the community wants.

He alluded to nearby municipalities such as Sterling Heights, which utilized strategic plans that led to the implementation of recreation items like activities for seniors and splash pads.

When it comes to a full-fledged downtown area, it likely is not in the cards due to minimal available properties coupled with the township’s general location.

“I want to attract families to the community,” Cannon said. “What is it that will bring them? What is it that we will continue to add to that? … We have attracted a lot of seniors who would love Clinton Township to be their home because they’re near everything near and dear to them.”

He hopes new businesses like Hunt’s Gymnastics Academy, which relocated from Harrison Township to Groesbeck, and the soon-to-open Taqueria Mi Pueblo in the old Pogo’s bar location, will “add a spark.”

It’s about changing perception, which he said is the biggest roadblock when it comes to the general corridor. That includes bringing in people both young and old, showing that it’s not just about industrial businesses. That includes a blend of service businesses and food-related entities that cater to both industrial and residential crowds.

“We can’t create more land. It is what it is,” Cannon said. “We have 28 1/2 miles, and we surround another community almost entirely. We have people who go to Clinton Township for work, for play, for education, and taking care of their health needs. We service a lot of people, more than people realize.”

Losing businesses like Kmart and other big box stores is “just a sign of the times,” he said. And as for the heavily discussed Parkway Plaza, which was acquired by a new owner last year, Cannon said he had no information to divulge on what he called “the No. 1 site that needs redevelopment.”

‘We want to be that face’
Shannon Hunt, 42, has owned Hunt’s Gymnastics Academy since 2010.

A ribbon cutting took place Oct. 1 to celebrate the new location on Groesbeck, between 15 Mile Road and Metropolitan Parkway. Previously, her business was located on Joy Boulevard in Harrison Township.

The new building was the first one she looked at, finding it a good central location for her clients, who travel from as far as Port Huron, Farmington and even from Canada.

On average, Hunt used to see 700 clients per week. That number dropped over this past summer when the business moved, but new walk-ins are already coming in, with 450 clients and counting.

“True to form, our clients followed us and found us and they’re coming back,” she said. “It’s really exciting.”

Hunt hopes the academy, which has about 22 employees and made the full move to Groesbeck in mid-July, will contribute to the revitalization of the corridor.

“We honestly hope to be (the face of the corridor),” she said. “There are so many hidden gems people don’t know about. We want to be that face; we want to help Clinton Township bring that area back to life.”