Paul King, Sr. has seen a lot of change since he opened King's Garage on Grand River in Farmington more than 30 years ago, but one thing has remained the same.
"This is the hub of the area," said King, who now chairs the Farmington Grand River Corridor Improvement Authority (CIA) board. "It's still going to bloom from there."
King is among a group of residents, business owners and elected officials from Farmington and Farmington Hills who have begun to develop a vision for the Grand River corridor. After several months of taking inventory of a 3-mile stretch of the state highway that runs from Eight Mile in Farmington Hills to Power Road in Farmington, they're asking anyone with an interest in improving it to help.
The Corridor Improvement Authority (CIA) boards for both cities will host a Community Summit on Jan. 23, 6:30 p.m., at the Costick Center to reveal information they've gathered so far and take public comments. Information collected will be presented at a second public meeting in February, before a final plan is created.
(Information about the boards' activities can be found at fhgov.com/GrandRiver.
Spencer Brown, who chairs the Farmington Hills CIA board, remembers when residents in that area could shop at Farmer Jack. "The closing of H.A. Smith Lumber has also been a blow to the neighborhood," he said.
The area has some very large assets as well, like Botsford Hospital, which employs more than 2,000 people.
'Something we can rally around'
The CIA boards aim to look at the corridor's strengths and challenges, and create a vision that will translate into development and tax increment financing (TIF) plans, said Nate Geinzer, assistant to the Farmington Hills city manager. A TIF district would capture the increase in property taxes as the taxable value of the corridor improves with redevelopment.
"What we hope to end up with is a document that has a very clear vision, something we can rally around," he said. It will also become a marketing piece to encourage private development.
The idea behind creating the authorities, Farmington community and economic development director Kevin Christiansen said, is to "understand the assets along the corridor", instead of reacting to what develops there. In addition to development, the boards are looking at vehicle and pedestrian traffic patterns and creating links within the corridor and to downtown Farmington.
"The desire is to see the corridor developed to its full potential," he said.
King is also interested in making sure "it all flows for everybody, and not be stepping on anybody's toes. We want a nicer place to come to." He said both boards have worked very well together.
More than 1,000 invitations have been sent to residents, business and property owners in and around the corridor, but anyone with concerns and ideas is invited to attend. Residents are also welcome to attend Corridor Improvement Authority board meetings, held at 7:30 a.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month at the Jon Grant Community Center, 29260 Grand River.