TRAVERSE CITY — Greilickville could soon adopt the moniker “Port Leelanau” under a proposal to reshape and brand its commercial corridor as a destination waterfront location.
The renaming of Elmwood Township’s commercial corridor is a touchy issue, township officials said. But the new name should help in efforts to redevelop the corridor along M-22 into a more pedestrian- and traffic-friendly, nautically themed community hub that attracts more businesses, officials said.
The new name takes advantage of the waterfront and West Grand Traverse Bay’s largest deep water port along a strip that stretches from the border with Traverse City to Cherry Bend Road.
“Research has shown that 104 years ago it was actually called Port Leelanau,” said Lee Nowak, Elmwood Township planning commission chairman. “There is legitimacy in the name because it’s on the water and this is the main entrance into Leelanau County.”
The unincorporated community was named after Godfrey Greilick, who established a saw mill in the area during the 1850s. Most of the community would still be known as Greilickville, said Jack Kelly, township supervisor. Just the business corridor would adopt the new name.
“It’s not like we are going to change the name on the map,” Kelly said.
The township wants to connect the businesses on the west side of M-22 and the waterfront amenities across the busy highway.
The plan calls for installing a boulevard down most of M-22 with sidewalks and landscaping. Parking lots would be connected with a serpentine link of small access roads and shared driveways to reduce the number of curb cuts. Grandview Drive would be realigned to connect with the township’s waterfront park in hopes of creating a signalized intersection.
The township also would reduce seven different zoning designations to three or four that encourage mixed residential and commercial uses, while moving the buildings closer to the road with more parking in the rear.
Nowak has taken it upon himself to speak with all 41 property owners in the corridor prior to a public hearing scheduled for July 16 at 7 p.m. in the township hall.
“It’s been interesing ... and very positive.” Nowak said. “People are very much in favor of what we are doing.”
Petra Pepellashi of the Silver Swan Homemade Food & Gifts said given the sophistication of Traverse City, it makes sense for Greilickville to spruce itself. She’s not yet sold on the name change, but said anything the township can do to improve traffic would be a big help.
“They’ve got a lot of ideas so it’s difficult to say, but anything new always starts with talking to people,” she said.