Community invited to share ideas, feedback
Posted on 12/01/2022
Sketch by Grissim, Metz and Andriese of gateway to Downtown Northville at Main and CenterThe concept for the downtown pedestrian plan presented by Grissim, Metz and Andriese (GMA) on Nov. 29 at City Hall was greeted by attendees as a positive step forward in transforming the closed sections of Main and Center streets into an exciting promenade with interactive zones that draw people to shops, restaurants and new seating areas.

GMA proposes the street supports linear bands of activity. The center of the street (24 feet wide) is the promenade for people to walk, with plenty of room for strollers, walkers and wheelchairs. Sixteen feet within that 24- foot space can be used for emergency access for police, fire and EMT since it won’t have any tables, chairs, structures or displays. Within the promenade, there will be zones of 8-foot wide sections for varied seating arrangements.

Eight-foot wide sections from the merchants’ doors to the curb provides another walkway. Beyond that, varying sections of 13 to 18 feet is considered merchant space, where restaurants can set up outdoor dining, and retailers can display merchandise. Merchant space includes the 8-foot-wide parallel parking spaces. GMA proposes that decking be placed over the parking spaces and match up with the sidewalk to provide a platform for outdoor dining structures. This also eliminates the need to remove curbs.

The seating areas are varied to encourage different uses and activities. High-top tables and chairs face the promenade, making it easy for people to eat a “to-go” meal, have a drink, work on their laptop or simply watch people go by. Larger outdoor couches and comfy chairs invite groups to linger and share stories. Bistro-style tables and chairs can be moved to wherever they are needed: a quiet tea for two, being closer to street entertainment, in the shade of a building or soaking up the sunshine.

Lighting plays a big role in creating an aura of welcome, safety and fun. Ideas include projecting light patterns on the street (similar to holiday light projections on a house), stringing lights from horizontal beams mounted on buildings, and spotlighting the historic buildings with street-based lights that glow upward. Another plan is to remove the traffic light at Main and Center and replace it with a stop sign, using the light pole for decorative lighting or hanging banners for events and as an advertising venue for area businesses. The intersection may also have a curved portion of road – achieved through brickscape – to indicate the main entrance.

The streets will be activated by both programmed activities and organic entertainment, such as playing corn hole, doing group yoga, or playing chess at a bistro table. Musicians and street performers will have a zone for performances in addition to the stage at Town Square. Food trucks will be part of the streetscape for special events. In the winter, there could be an ice rink at Town Square.

Structures are proposed to have plexiglass roofs so the building names can still be viewed. They will be more uniform with removable side walls for cold weather and a distinctive, decorative siding approximately 4 feet tall that screens chair legs from the street. Structures will be decorated for the seasons.

DDA Director Lori Ward said, “This next phase for downtown Northville is a unique opportunity to provide an experience and setting that doesn’t exist in our neighboring communities. It will be an even better place to bring the kids, go out for a drink with friends, or just hang out.

“There’s so much versality with the space. We aim to make it a destination, a place where there’s something happening every day of the week, every month of the year. Some of that will be programmed but residents and visitors will find ways to make it their own ‘go-to’ place.”

The design consultant and traffic consultant teams (GMA and Fleis & Vandenbrink) will hold a joint workshop, open to the public, on Dec. 7, from 4 to 6 p.m. outside the Marquis Theater. At that time, they’ll make a presentation, gather public comment and take a walking tour of the downtown street closures.

At F&V, the two representatives are Julie Kroll, traffic engineer, and Brad Strader, an urban planner for MKSK. An interactive component is in the works by F&V to gauge input from the public on various sections of the city where there’s a concern about safety, walkability, lighting, etc. Watch for that link in social media in the near future.

GMA is working with the DDA’s Economic Development Committee, also known as the advisory committee, to address the design, management and operational issues associated with the creation of the pedestrian plan. A Historic District Commission subcommittee is also closely reviewing and commenting on the plan.

Ward invites public feedback on the conceptual design plan. View the presentation to see the details. Please send all comments to her by email or phone (248-305-2733).

photos by GMA. 

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