City officials create vision for future of downtown Swartz Creek

SWARTZ CREEK — In the 60 some years that Bud Grimes has lived in Swartz Creek, he has watched the city evolve as businesses have come and gone and infrastructure has changed with the times.

“Where’s the dime store?” Grimes noted. “Where’s the sporting goods shop, the movie theater? It’s evolution.”

As a member of the Swartz Creek Planning Commission, Grimes is excited to see what the future holds for the city, and he’s pleased to be part of a larger group – including the Downtown Development Authority and a steering committee and focus group – working on a plan to manage whatever changes are on the horizon.

With the city’s Master Plan due for review and updates, city officials are formulating a vision for directing new development, particularly within the downtown district around the Miller/Morrish Road corridor.

Part of that vision involves a return to a more traditional “Main Street” type of streetscape that encourages walkability, more open-air dining, on-street parking and two-story buildings with street-level retail and second-story office or residential.

Businesses that want to locate within the downtown have limited choices, which means it’s conceivable that investors could some day look to expand existing buildings, and there’s no way to go but up, or demolish the old and start from scratch, in which case the city could require that the new facilities be two-story buildings that reflect the historic ambiance of downtown, city officials have said.

The city is consulting with CIB Planners and Smith Group.

Planners, consultants and elected and appointed representatives are still considering specific design details, but they’ve expressed that consistency and usability are top priorities.

No stone is being left unturned as attention is given to details like trees, park benches, flowers, awnings, bicycle racks, and of course, parking.

The DDA, Planning Commission, steering committee and focus group are working toward a draft of the vision, goals and objectives to present to the City Council in November, with final approval expected in 2022.