TRAVERSE CITY — Board members for the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority voted to drop “interim” from director Rob Bacigalupi’s title and farm downtown project work to consultants.
Formerly the DDA’s deputy director, Bacigalupi, 47, operated as the interim director since shortly after the June death of the DDA’s long-time executive director, Bryan Crough.
A DDA board committee recommended the DDA not replace Crough directly but instead contract with Grand Traverse County and other consultants for economic development work while Bacigalupi focuses on DDA operations.
“We’re committed to Rob,” said Chuck Judson, who chaired the committee. “We looked at the value we would have in retaining Rob for operating the office, coordinating the budget, and managing the relationship with the city, county, consultants, and the Downtown Traverse City Association.”
Bacigalupi, 47, came to the DDA as deputy director 15 years ago and served as director for two years when the city commission contracted Crough to do more city-wide economic development.
“I’m excited about it and happy the committee and board had confidence in me to be the permanent, full-time director,” Bacigalupi said.
Committee members decided against interviewing others for the position. Judson said they found that Crough and Bacigalupi had worked as a team and effectively divided DDA responsibilities. Crough focused on community development and projects, while Bacigalupi handled operations. The board decided it would be better served by contracting for project work within the downtown and allowing a different agency to take the lead on broader community development issues.
The county’s Planning & Development Department already works with the DDA on projects and Jeanne Derenzy, deputy county planner, stepped in to help out the DDA on projects this year, Judson said.
City officials expect 2014 to be even busier, with reconstruction of Garland Street, construction of a pedestrian bridge over the Boardman River, and three proposed private developments atop two ongoing projects.
Bacigalupi said DDA also is working with developer Jerry Snowden to include public restrooms in his construction of Radio Centre III on Park Street adjacent to the city parking deck. The DDA wants to include a pedestrian entrance to the deck through the building, plus bathrooms in the proposed two-story office and retail building.
“I’m kind of looking forward to 2014, it’s going to be a big year,” Bacigalupi said.