TRAVERSE CITY — A proposed downtown project may prompt the extension of a boardwalk along the north bank of the Boardman River between Union and West Front streets.
Developers Tim Burden and Mike Wills of Midtown Development Inc. want to build 12 to 14 townhouses between West State Street and the Boardman River at the intersection with Pine Street. The developers plan to apply for state brownfield redevelopment funds and are willing to offer the city an easement along the river bank and through the heart of the development to access Pine Street.
The project would mark Burden’s fourth riverfront development in the city, and the fourth in which he’s turned over the riverbank for public use.
“We’ve had a lot of experience and people just love the public boardwalk,” Burden said. “We think the connectivity is cool, the sense of community, the walkability, is cool, and I see it as a positive.”
The Downtown Development Authority agreed Friday to provide $7,000 for design and engineering for the riverwalk extension.
City officials consider the project
an opportunity to implement a recommendation from the Lower Boardman River Revitalization Plan crafted by University of Michigan landscape architecture students that generated interest when presented in April.
“It takes the U-M plan that everybody loved and implements a small part of it,” said Rob Bacigalupi, the Downtown Development Authority’s interim executive director. “This will also allow us to link-up with the Pine Street Pedestrian Way all the way to Grandview Parkway.
The riverwalk currently stops behind the U.S. Post Office on Union Street. Bacigalupi said he expects to extend it at least as far as the Riverwalk Terrace apartments owned by the Traverse City Housing Commission. City officials would like to take it all the way to the West Front Street Bridge, which is scheduled for reconstruction this fall, but they would need to obtain an easement from developer Gerry Snowden, who owns the property between the apartments and West Front Street.
The easement Burden offered through his proposed Uptown Riverfront Town Homes project also would allow the city to extend its Pine Street sidewalk south to connect with the new riverwalk. The DDA already intends to extend the sidewalk north of West Front Street to connect with a pedestrian bridge across the Boardman River.
The city still needs to negotiate some property issues with the new pedestrian bridge, but city engineer Tim Lodge said he’d like to bid out the bridge projects as one package.
Construction of the extended boardwalk could begin as early as the fall of 2014, Bacigalupi said.