In the News

Realize Cedar is an initiative of Delhi Charter Township to determine how residents of the Township see Cedar Street developing in the future. This project focuses on the need for new housing, business development, and streetscape design improvements. The study area is bounded by Willoughby Road on the north and College Road on the south. A special emphasis is given to planning in the triangle area of Cedar Street, Holt Road, and Aurelius Road.

News about the Realize Cedar Project:

Watch the fly-through video here: Realize Cedar

Holt Highlights and Hotspots: An In Depth Look at the Realize Cedar Project

2016 August   |   Lansing State Journal Delhi Township Seeks Ideas, Vision to Boost Cedar Street

By Curt Smith, Lansing State Journal

DELHI TWP. – Have issues with Cedar Street? Traffic too crazy? Not enough convenient parking?

Township officials are paying attention and are beginning a process to look at how life along the busy thoroughfare can be improved.

Residents’ input will play a major part in the process, officials said.

“It’s not an engineering project,” said Tracy Miller, Delhi’s community development director. “It’s not a let’s-rebuild-the-road project.'"

“It’s ‘how do we develop a plan for redevelopment of the entire corridor as we move into the future?’”

Miller said a good hard look at Cedar Street has been part of the township’s master plan for some time, and last year, as decline along the corridor appeared to outpace progress, officials decided to take action.

Howard Haas, executive director of Delhi’s Downtown Authority, said his group has been helping to combat the problem, buying up blighted and "environmentally challenged" properties and preparing them for redevelopment.

A steering committee held its first meeting in November, and some $70,000 was set aside for McKenna Associates, a Northville-based community planning/economic development firm that will serve as a consultant.

“As a whole our community looks really good,” Miller said. “Cedar Street, parts of it, maybe not so much. It could be better.”

She said planners will review the entire roughly four mile stretch of Cedar Street, from East Willoughby Road to North College Road, with “a huge amount of the focus” on the roughly two miles between Willoughby and the roundabout, where the population is densest.

Miller poses this question: Can the average resident name five nonchain businesses on Cedar between Holt and Aurelius roads?

“Bet you can’t,” she said.

“It’s not that we don’t have cool businesses,” Miller said. “It’s that maybe people don’t know that they are there because the environment doesn’t support those businesses.”

The first step is focus meetings with key groups such as senior citizens, businesses and residents along Cedar Street. Once a few design options are put together, they’ll be presented at community events.

Miller calls them "pop-up meetings."

It might happen in the form of a booth at a Holt High School basketball game, Miller said, or a setup at the farmers market.

People who don't get out much and aren't included in a focus group still will be able contribute ideas and comments through an online portal.

"You can look at the information and log in your opinions," Miller said.

The pop-up meetings and the online portal will come into play, she said, "once we get to that point in the project where we actually have something to show and get input on."

She expects a firm Cedar strategy by the end of the year.

The first focus meeting, with seniors, was held earlier this month.

A wide range of concerns were voiced, Miller said, ranging from the pace of traffic, retail options, the need for more senior housing “in the thick of things” to the push button on a particular pedestrian crossing signal.

“There’s not much to go good or bad at this point because we’re information gathering about what peoples’ priorities are,” she said.

Haas said his top priorities include calming traffic, eliminating blight and extending fiber optics to more homes and businesses.

To the DDA, he said, the undertaking means “more opportunities to augment development and to bring more businesses that provide more services to our citizens.”

Contact Curt Smith at (517) 377-1226 or Follow him on Twitter @CurtSmithLSJ.


2015 January 7   |   South County News: Serving Vicksburg, Schoolcraft & Surrounding Areas Vicksburg Village Council Begins Review of Its Master Plan

By Sue Moore

In one fell swoop, the Vicksburg Village Council approved the updated Parks and Recreation plan for the years 2015 through 2019, adopted the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) plan to reset the boundaries of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), and took the first step at adopting the 2015 Village Master plan at its December meeting.

These actions are likely to have far reaching effect as grant funds are requested from various pools of money. Vicksburg is in the business of improving the downtown via a study provided by McKenna Associates, which has been under study during the 2014 calendar year, according to Kathleen Hoyle, the DDA director.

The boundaries of the TIF changed dramatically to take in the Leja Industrial Park, the now abandoned Simpson Paper Company property, and larger chunks of the downtown. The only taxing unit to disagree with the plan to capture incremental taxes from these properties in the future was Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s board of trustees. As the assessment increases on all the properties in the TIF plan, the DDA will have more money to pour into projects such as parking lot improvements, façade upgrades on the businesses, and event planning.

The master plan is available on the village web site for download or in hard copy at the library and village hall. It is open to public review and comment until the March 2 village council meeting when it is scheduled to be approved.

In other action, the council approved a one-day alcohol license for the Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce as it revives the February Ice Festival and chili cook-off set for February 7. This event will begin with the annual Frostbite 5K run at 11 a.m. and end with the announcement of the best chili presentation at 5 p.m. according to Steve McCowen who brought the Chamber’s request for the event to the council meeting.

Earlier in December the council heard from the DDA about its desire to strengthen village ordinances. The goal is to target the empty decaying buildings in the downtown and use enforceable ordinances to compel the owners to clean their structures up. Council member Chris Newman and a planning commission member promised that a complete review of all the village ordinances is in the works for 2015.

“The government doesn’t work in secret, so when our government gets into these things, we want it to be transparent,” said Bill Adams, council president. “We want to be sure that [our ordinances] are enforced in the proper manner and by the right person. The long-range goal in everything we do is to make the village a better place to live.”

Each council member was given a job to do in relation to the strategic plan last April and each member was called upon to tell what had been accomplished under his or her auspices and what needed to be carried over into 2015 to complete or set new goals. One of the biggest jobs fell to Trustee Colin Bailey to secure free Wi-Fi for residents to use while in the downtown area. This has been partially achieved and he is looking to provide the cost to the village for future enhancements.


2013 November 17   |   Detroit Sunday Free Press City Plans for Suitable Housing

City officials say they are committed to improving the community's access to fair housing options after a study found socioeconomic inequality in local neighborhoods, employer recommendations to live outside Battle Creek and limited types of housing in certain parts of town.

The city-funded report, published in July, found those factors and continued cuts to federal funding have created challenges for helping minorities, disabled people and low-to moderate -income residents find suitable housing.

Complete story...

2013 August 1   |   Garden City Observer McDonald's Facing Design Standards

The McDonald’s restaurant on Middlebelt south of Ford would like to expand to a new, adjacent site.

Company officials have acquired the adjacent former gas station location at the southwest corner of Ford and Middlebelt for this purpose, but the new location will need to adhere to specific standards.

Amy Neary, principal planner of McKenna Associates, the city’s planning consultants, said that its location in the Central Business District requires the considerations.

“The CBD is an established zoning district in the city that was created as a result of downtown planning initiatives that started almost 30 years ago,” Neary said. “These are not new zoning ordinance standards which McDonald’s is required to comply with. These standards have been in place since about 1996.” Complete story...

2012 August 5   |   Saginaw News Buena Vista Township Awarded $500k federal grant for streetscape, sidewalks for the Town Center development

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded Buena Vista Township a $500,000 grant for streetscape and sidewalk infrastructure for its planned Buena Vista Town Center development.

The grant, announced Thursday, was one of $363 million in grants awarded nationally for innovative transportation projects.

The Town Center development will sit at the old Fort Saginaw Mall plaza at East Holland and South Outer Drive in the township. The last mall store closed in 2004, and the township obtained the property in 2008."

"Buena Vista has struggled for too long with the blight at the old Fort Saginaw Mall property," said township supervisor Dwayne Parker. "But Buena Vista is on the road to revitalization. We have prepared the property for redevelopment, crafted a vision and gameplan for new stores, offices and community facilities, and engineered plans for infrastructure upgrades." Complete story...

2011 November 10   |   Oakland Press Northville Design Firm Revitalizes Grosse Pointe

McKenna Associates, a Northville design firm, was awarded Michigan’s highest honor in community planning.

McKenna Executive Vice President John R. Jackson said, “Grosse Pointe is proof that communities can turn setbacks, even a devastating one like the loss of an anchor store, into opportunity with great results.”

As part of the program, McKenna conducted a market study to provide the city with an updated view of which type of businesses would do best in Grosse Pointe. Following the study McKenna led Grosse Pointe through the process of writing a new master plan.

The Michigan Association of Planning presented McKenna and the City its “Excellence Award for Implementation” for the “Downtown Grosse Pointe Revitalization Program” at a ceremony Oct. 19 in Grand Rapids.

Complete story...

2011 June 30   |   Westland Observer City Contracts Out Building Department Services

WESTLAND, MI — The council recently approved a contract with McKenna Associates Inc. of Northville for professional services including inspections, enforcement and plan review of codes for electrical, mechanical, building, plumbing, the City’s Residential Rental Housing Inspection Program, Home Certification Program and Community Development Block Grant Program.

"It will all be done through scheduling, we will have access to nine inspectors and more could be added as the volume increases when the economy does better,” said Wild. “We were trying to cover it with two or three inspectors."

Complete story...

2011 June 30   |   Westland Observer Traxler Directs McKenna's Community Development Services

Michigan's largest community planning and design firm, McKenna Associates has promoted Ann Arbor native Sarah Traxler to director of Community Development.

"Sarah Traxler is the force behind major successful redevelopment projects that are changing the future of communities by replacing blight and obsolescence with hope and opportunity," said Phillip C. McKenna, president and owner of McKenna Associates. "Her work in Saginaw and Wayne County has mad Sarah one of the state's preeminent community development specialists, with a gift for navigating the sometimes complex world of state and federal programs to ensure communities see maximum value for their citizens."

Complete story...

2011 May/June   |   MML Review Downtown Grosse Pointe Proves When One Store Closes, a Window Can Open

GROSSE POINTE, MI — Anyone looking for proof that the loss of a major downtown tenant is a survivable event, need only look as far as Grosse Pointe where public officials and planners were forced to confront head-on the loss of Jacobson's Department Store that for generations anchored the retail district and helped shape the very identity of Grosse Pointe's downtown.

The progressive strategy they followed in the wake of the closure not only put Grosse Pointe on course for a new era of success, but provides a model for other Michigan cities lookin to not only survive, but thrive after the loss of a major downtown business. Complete story...

2011 May 11   |   Streetsboro Gateway News Changing the Face of Business on Route 14

STREETSBORO, OH — For years, residents and officials have bemoaned the loack of a coherent downtown and consistency in development practices along Route 14.

But ruled guiding its development would change under new zoning regulations being considered this year. New rules governing signs, landscaping, building architecture and materials are intended to make development more predictable, attractive and consistent, according to city leaders.

2010 December 18   |   Huron Daily Tribune New Master Plan to Reimagine Harbor Beach

HARBOR BEACH, MI — Several residents and business owners turned out Thursday to brainstorm ideas for the city’s future. The day-long planning event took place at Harbor Beach City Hall and was geared to help city planners collect input for the city’s 20-year master plan. Business owners met with representatives frorn McKenna Associates early Thursday uftemoon to discuss their ideas for zoning and future businesses in the city. At 6:30 p.m., residents and business owners were invited back for a community planning session, during which McKenna Associates collected ideas to use when creating the master plan.

Amy Chesnut, senior principal planner for McKenna Associates, said community input is vital to creating a plan that is relevant to residents’ needs and desires. McKenna, based in Northville, was hired by the city to help create the master plan. Complete story...

2010 October 26   |   The Morning Journal Avon Lake Votes, Nixes Wi-Fi Tower Near Learwood Square Shopping Plaza

AVON LAKE, OH — A wireless tower will not be built behind the Learwood Square Shopping Plaza in Avon Lake ... at least not yet.

City Council voted against the pole, 5-1, at last night’s meeting, with the lone supporter being Ward 4 Councilman David Kos. Council’s vote was met with applause by tower dissenters.

Clear Wire Wireless wanted to build a 150-foot Wi-Fi tower behind the Learwood Plaza to increase Internet coverage in that area of town. However, the proposal came under scrutiny when Harbor Court and Meadow Vistas residents questioned the validity and safety of the pole. Currently, Meadow Vistas is zoned commercial.

City Council hired consultant McKenna Associates to research whether a pole was needed in that area, and McKenna came back with the result that it is not warranted. Complete story...

2010 September 12   | Newsday   Calling All Towns

The problem is that the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 limits how towns can regulate cell phone carriers and the companies that build their towers. Still, there are things municipalities can - and should - do. To respond to concerns of citizens objecting to proposed new facilities, towns need to pass carefully crafted legislation. The goal is to make the carriers prove need and to encourage collocation: placing new transmitters on existing towers, instead of erecting new ones. And towns need to get expert advice on how the 1996 act affects them. Southold and Hempstead, for example, are doing just that. Complete story...

2010 August 31   |   Livingston County Daily Press & Argus Tower Blaze Spawns Lawsuit

The insurance company that paid out more than $100,000 to Howell Public Schools after a cell phone tower caught fire in 2007 has filed a civil suit claiming negligence on the part of the company that owns the tower and the company that manufactured the tower.

A SET SEG, a Lansing-based company that insures the Howell district and more than 400 other Michigan school systems, in June liled a complaint against Massachusetts-based American Towers Inc. and Commstructures Inc. of Florida, alleging the fire and subsequent damage were a result of negligence of the defendants. Howell Public Schools is not a party to the suit. Complete story...

August 19, 2010   | Garden City Looks at New ordinance for Wireless Carrier Towers.

The new ordinance, which would be written with assistance from the city's planning consulting firm, McKenna Associates, would allow the city to better manage wireless carrier requests for cell tower permits, regulate tower locations and heights, negotiate tower lease rates, and protect the safety and character of the city. Complete story...

2009 October 11   | Pittsfield Township Overhauling Master Plan

McKenna Associates was chosen by the Township Board in August to help write the plan. "It's going to be the center of what happens in Pittsfield Township from here on forward" Township Supervisor Mandy Grewal said. Complete story...

September 11, 2007 | (Detroit, Michigan, USA) Phil McKenna: Planner of the Year

Phillip C. McKenna, CEO of McKenna Associates Inc., has been named 2007 Outstanding Professional Planner by the Michigan Association of Planning. In announcing the decision, the association's awards committee cited McKenna's decades of work shaping Michigan communities into vital, interesting and attractive places to live, work and do business. Complete story...

2007 September 3-9 | Crain's Detroit Business USA) Cool Places to Work

McKenna Associates: Inspired by Architecture, Collaboration Where are the cool places to work in Southeast Michigan? All over, as it turns out. They're also cool for many reasons. Sometimes the location itself is cool — an Albert Kahn-designed building in Northville with a working waterwheel.

Sometime's its the perks – free lunches, trips and flat-screen TVs in the office. And sometimes it's the comraderie –in-house basketball tournaments, picnics and other social events.

Read what makes McKenna a cool place to work.