How will we get there?
Because all of the issues downtown cannot be addressed today, it is important to have a strategy for implementing and coordinating the Vision Plan once opportunities arise. This vision plan summarizes the recommended direction for Escanaba to insure all elements of the vision plan are accomplished.
What is the overall vision for Escanaba’s downtown?
The vision is to see the downtown reinvented and revitalized with a mix of activity nodes focused on retail, residential, and entertainment uses; to see downtown become a vibrant business, entertainment and tourist destination with a diverse economy, including increased job opportunities which will continue to enhance the quality of life in the community.
The following is an explanation of themes and objectives for revitalizing downtown Escanaba. Downtown Waterfront (Ludington Street to 6th Avenue North) The plan is to promote additional public accessibility to Little Bay De Noc. Additionally, a strategy to locate public and/or private development which draws the downtown to the waterfront area creating additional critical mass for the downtown will be created. Also included in this strategy will be objectives to remove the blight on the waterfront, to create additional water- related recreational uses to promote greater utilization of the municipal dock, to enhance conditions that will allow higher density residential developments such as condominiums and townhouses. Lastly, the strategy will address measures to increase mixed-used developments with respect to commercial, entertainment, and residential components.
Create a redevelopment plan to define potential reuses of building space and building improvement plans that will encourage reinvestment into the properties through Obsolete Property Rehabilitation and similar programs.
Downtown Land Use.
Develop specialized zoning districts along the Ludington Street corridor which will result in a greater critical mass of retail, restaurant, entertainment, and service activities.
Recommendations include enhancing the existing downtown parking lots and promoting a shared parking program with the Chamber of Commerce and Escanaba Public Schools so that public parking lots can be designed and installed behind the Chamber of Commerce and on the 1600 Block of 1st Avenue North. Begin discussions with the State of Michigan to promote the concept of sharing their parking lot on the 300 block of 1st. Avenue South with the visitors and employees in this area of the downtown.
Building Rehabilitation Programs.
Plan and initiate funding programs that facilitate improvements to facades, signage, and landscaping of downtown businesses. Provide architectural and landscape guidelines for improvement opportunities.
Provide incentives to maintain and restore historic buildings for retail and commercial uses.Conduct a Market Study that takes into account the Vision Plan. A Market Study for downtown needs from residential to commercial should take into account the developments of the Vision Plan.
Combine the rich history of downtown with the history of the waterfront through pedestrian connectors and shopping districts.
It is critical that the downtown streets become pedestrian friendly.
Move towards a better future as a result of visioning by forming mental images of the future and translating these images into reality through leadership and action.
Create a safe, friendly, and attractive shopping destination for the residents and visitors of Escanaba.
Enhance the Ludington Streetscape to reflect the vibrant heritage of this Great Lakes city.
Encourage and recruit new retail, mixed-use and entertainment opportunities downtown.
Market the downtown and waterfront as an attractive destination, drawing traffic off of Lincoln Road and U.S. 2.
How will the Vision Plan be used? The vision plan will be used as a guide for future decision making for the downtown. The plan will remain flexible, so long as the implementation strategies are in keeping with the overall intent of the plan. The DDA in partnership with the City will continue to respond to growth and change over the coming years and this document should evolve as well.
The vision plan is a framework only. Specific design details should be measured against the intent of the plan as development occurs. It should be used to guide major projects in the future such as the improved downtown streetscape, parking opportunities and waterfront development.