Going for a stroll along Front Street in Traverse City just got a whole lot easier this summer. On Monday, June 1st, the Traverse City Commission unanimously voted to approve a proposal by the Downtown Development Authority to close Front Street to vehicle traffic between Park Street and Union Street. How is this going to work? Here are some details:
- Front Street between Park and Union will be closed to all vehicle traffic, using temporary traffic barriers similar to the ones used during Friday Night Live
- The barriers are easily moveable in the event an emergency vehicle needs to use this route
- State Street will be made two-way between Park Street and Union Street to accommodate for increased traffic
- Sidewalks will remain clear for foot traffic, but restaurants and certain retailers will be allowed free use of the two parking spaces directly in front of their storefront for merchandise and cafe style seating (restaurants)
- No wheeled traffic (except for those using mobility devices) will be allowed
- Mini “parklets” will be set up in strategic places complete with outdoor tables and chairs for the public to enjoy
- The closure will begin in the next two weeks and will end on Labor Day
In these unprecedented times, local governments and community organizations have needed to take extraordinary measures in order to create opportunities for local businesses to succeed, including closures like this one. During the writing of this proposal, the DDA consulted with community bodies like BATA, Norte, TART Trails, and the Grand Traverse County Health Department; each of which endorsed this idea as a great option for locals and visitors alike to enjoy downtown Traverse City a little more safely and leisurely.
Good Idea or Not Much Help?
Some have expressed concern that the disabled, elderly, and others who have a difficult time navigating longer pedestrian distances would be left out, but the DDA has responded by offering more handicap and loading zone parking on Park Street, Cass Street, and Union Street, a component of the plan endorsed by Traverse City’s Disability Network.
There are many who argue that these sorts of measures aren’t necessary and ultimately only serve to inconvenience locals; but the numbers from Fourth Economy and Network Northwest’s report “COVID-19 Economic Impact Analysis for Northwest Michigan” are clear: Northern Michigan is expected to lose upwards of 518 million dollars in retail business in 2020, and over 382 million dollars in accommodation and food service revenue. Anything we can do to assist these businesses, provide their customers with safer access to make purchases, and create an environment where northern Michigan residents and visitors are comfortable spending money is a good idea.
These sorts of initiatives further highlight how wonderfully walkable the downtown district of Traverse City is, and what an incredible community amenities our shopping and dining hotspots are for homeowners. Property in the downtown district of Traverse City has remained incredibly popular and has consistently gained value for many years; making it a must-look spot for anyone considering a new home in the area.
And, with the National Cherry Festival and the Traverse City Film Festival both on hold this year, the permanent local attractions – the “good old fashioned fun” as our grandparents used to say – is going to be what draws people out of their homes and vacation rentals.
With the Brick & Corbett offices being just five blocks from Front Street, we love having a more walkable city center, even if it is just for the summer.
Tell Us What You Think
Tell us your thoughts? Is this a good thing for Traverse City? Is this the sort of move that will bring you and your family downtown for some fun this summer? Tell us in the comments below.