DDA debates business balance
Bids for Uptown riverwalk authorized
TRAVERSE CITY — A balance between retail space and restaurants in three blocks of East Front Street is at the center of a debate over liquor license rules.
The Downtown Development Authority board on Friday discussed city rules regarding Redevelopment Project Area Liquor licenses for the 100, 200 and 300 blocks on East Front Street. But the board stopped short of agreeing with a suggestion floated by merchants that Traverse City commissioners increase the $75,000 investment requirement to $150,000.
DDA Board Vice-Chair Leah Bagdon McCallum questioned whether altering the investment requirement is a case of “incentivize versus penalize.”
Treasurer Gabe Schneider echoed McCallum, saying that increasing the investment requirement would “encourage (restaurants) with deeper pockets” to the three main blocks of Front Street.
“It’s the wrong approach,” said Schneider, adding that it would discourage smaller entrepreneurs from redeveloping vacant sites.
The recommendation to double the investment requirement came out of an ad hoc committee of restaurateurs as well as a Downtown Traverse City Association meeting.
The board directed DDA Executive Director Rob Bacigalupi suggest to the ad hoc committee and the DTCA board that one redevelopment liquor license be allowed per year in the three-block district, with no limit to other areas of downtown.
Attorney and former DDA member John Di Giacomo discussed the liquor license issue at the end of the meeting during public comment. He suggested a “retail incubator” as a solution so that retailers could work on critical business models before renting downtown space.
In other business, the DDA board:
Authorized staff to issue a Request for Proposals for design and construction engineering to complete the Uptown riverwalk. The DDA committed to constructing the riverwalk from the South Union Street bridge to the Uptown/Riverview Terrace boundary by August of 2018.
The DDA would like to add two other construction phases to extend the riverwalk from Uptown to the West Front Street bridge and then to the existing Pine Street pedestrian bridge.
“If we complete Phase I and nothing else, is it a boardwalk to nowhere?” McCallum asked.
Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers said the Uptown construction still will tie into an existing a street-level connection, but that extending the proposed riverwalk would be a “big asset” to the Riverview complex as well as to the proposed 305 West Front Street development.
Adopted a resolution in support of the city’s grant application to the Michigan Department of Transportation Local Bridge Program for the North Cass Street and South Union Street bridges.
Amended the parking area lease with Traverse City Light and Power for Lot X, at 130 Hall St., to add parking meters.
Authorized Bacigalupi to engage Northsky Nonprofit Network for strategic planning to refine and refocus the mission of the DDA.
Recommended that the City Commission authorize a three-year agreement with Parkmobile LLC to provide a mobile payment solution for downtown parkers.
Source: The Record-Eagle