TRAVERSE CITY — Extensive survey results on modifications — highlighted by the closure of two blocks of Front Street to vehicles this summer — will be presented to the Downtown Development Authority at its virtual meeting Friday morning.

Avenue ISR had 1,472 unique individuals participate in the online survey conducted from Sept. 24 to Oct. 5.

The majority of respondents responded favorably to four major modifications to downtown this summer including:

  • Closing two blocks of Front Street to vehicle traffic
  • Changing a portion of State Street to two-way traffic
  • Allowing additional outdoor restaurant/café seating on city streets
  • Using colorful paint on Front Street

But there was a 15-point difference between patrons and owners on whether Front Street closure worked well or somewhat well: 88 percent of downtown visitors and residents said it did; 84 percent of downtown employees agreed and 73 percent of business owners/managers agreed.

The same group of four respondents would be in favor of a similar move in 2021, but the percentage dropped slightly among every group.

“Businesses themselves liked it and supported it,” DDA CEO Jean Derenzy said. “However, they were able to see a difference when the cars started going through.”

Derenzy said it’s important for the DDA to hear responses across the spectrum. She added there is never a solution that works for everyone, whether it’s businesses on the first-floor, second-floor offices or the public.

“The survey was really designed to give us an indication of how we move forward,” Derenzy said. “It’s being able to move forward with what we had and what we learned. Nothing is the status quo.”

Derenzy praised the depth of the survey Avenue ISR President Woody Smith will deliver to the DDA board on Friday.

“It was outstanding outreach by Avenue ISR,” Derenzy said. “Woody Smith did a great job of reaching out and getting people to respond. And people wanted to respond.”

Another major agenda item for the Nov. 20 meeting is to start working on a six-year Capital Improvement Plan, a key component for building the 2021-2022 budget for the DDA. The DDA strategic plan lists several priorities for both of its Tax Increment Financing districts.

“We have some pretty big items we’re looking at for 2021 and 22, the next fiscal year,” Derenzy said.

Bridge reconstruction in downtown, East Front Street streetscape improvement, stormwater management and implementation of a cohesive lower Boardman River plan are among the projects.

Derenzy said the timing of East Front Street infrastructure improvements will be crucial to not interfere with Michigan Department of Transportation work on Grandview Parkway planned for 2023.

“We don’t want to be at the same time as MDOT,” Derenzy said.

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