City of Grayling recognized by the state economic officials as a Redevelopment Ready Community
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
This is a process which has been a long in the time in the making, and it’s working. Grayling is growing, people have that vision, and I think this is one part of a culmination of a lot of things that are going on. It’s a great day for Grayling.” – Grayling Mayor Karl Schreiner
The City of Grayling took another step toward breathing new life into the community by streamlining its planning and redevelopment goals and vision.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) certified Grayling as a Redevelopment Ready Community (RRC) at a ceremony held at the Grayling City Hall on Friday, Sept. 7.
“RRC is a certification program supporting community revitalization and the attraction and retention of businesses, entrepreneurs, and talent throughout Michigan. RRC promotes communities to be development ready and competitive in today’s economy by actively engaging stakeholders and proactively planning for the future - making them more attractive for projects that create places where people want to live, work and invest,” according to mirisingtide.org.
“Our mission at the MEDC is to empower communities so they can proactively shape their future, a future built on a solid foundation of retaining and attracting business investment and talent,” said MEDC Senior Vice President Katharine Czarnecki. “We look forward to working collaboratively with Grayling to create a vibrant community where business and talent want to be, and where a strong sense of community flourishes.”
Over the last three years, Grayling city officials have been working toward receiving the certification to help with redeveloping the community and guiding future land use. The work has been a coordinated effort through the Grayling City Council, Parks and Recreation Commission, Grayling Planning Commission, and the Downtown Development Authority/Grayling Main Street Board.
Erich Podjaske, the zoning and economic development director for the City of Grayling, was eager to get the community involved with the certification process.
“There is a lot to it,” he said. “It’s not one of those cookie-cutter type of programs. There’s a lot do, but it’s been great.”
The city council approved updated ordinances on July 31, 2017 as part of the certification process. The community’s master plan, which guides future land use and redevelopment opportunities, was also updated.
As the city moves forward, the ordinances will be continuously reviewed to ensure that Grayling can attract desired new technology, businesses, and people to the community.
The planning initiatives encourage home ownership, higher density residential development and creation of safe, convenient and attractive pedestrian routes, and green spaces throughout the central business district. In addition, plans encourage multiple uses within buildings in the central business district.
The city has developed a six-year capital improvement plan, which is annually updated and reviewed. The plan outlines public improvement through 2024.
Community marketing and promotional campaigns have been launched to create a positive image that rekindles community pride and improves consumer and investor confidence.
Elected and appointed officials and staff will attend training opportunities to expand their knowledge and help them make more informed decisions about land use and redevelopment issues.
The RRC certification is good for three years.
“It’s always a work in progress, but now we have a dedicated team to focus on redevelopment,” said Michelle Parkkonen, the director for the program. “They will let them know that Graying is open to do business and is a great community to work with.”
A developer’s resource guide has been included on the city’s website with applicable ordinances. Potential developers are encouraged to hold pre-application conferences with the zoning administrator. In addition, public participation is urged to discuss projects with surrounding neighbors to avoid potential conflicts and opposition.
Projects that are already in the planning stages include the former Sawmill Billiards property, the building where the Crawford County Avalanche is located, and the building where Heirloom Antiques operated. The buildings will be demolished to make way for a new muti-level development which will include retail and office space on the street level and apartments on the upper levels. The Northern Market, which is planned on the former ProBuild Property, is also slated to be redeveloped.
“You’ve done all of this work, you’ve positioned yourself well, and you’ve got a lot of good things in the pipeline that are still coming, but now it’s time to take that next step,” said Dan Leonard, a community assistance specialist for the MEDC “You’ve identified redevelopment sites, and we’re going to work very intently with you and with the development world to reactivate those sites, and bring new investment in, push that envelope, raise the taxable value, keep people coming here, and keep telling that positive story of Grayling.”
The RRC team will continue working with Grayling to redevelop other properties and vacant land.
Redevelopment ready sites include the Fred Bear property, the Hospitality House property, and the Shoppenagons property. The list also includes the vacant Valero property and The Brickery, which is for sale since it is going out of business.
A number of dignitaries were on hand for the ceremony.
Rep. Daire Rendon, R-Lake City, said the designation goes along with the great success of the Crawford AuSable School District, Camp Grayling, Kirtland Community College, and the abundant natural resources the community has to offer.
“You have people that are business minded who want to grow your beautiful community and you have people that are boots on the ground doing that,” Rendon said.
A Senatorial Recognition and Certificate of Congressional Recognition were presented to Grayling Mayor Karl Schreiner at the ceremony.
“It’s nice to have it on the books, but to be honest, it says a lot about the city, the community and the council that you guys have the mobility to accomplish and meet the criteria that are necessary,” said Brandon Kargol, who was representing U.S. Representative Jack Bergman.
Grayling is the 26th community in the state to receive the RRC certification, and only the second community in the state to receive the recognition and to be part of Michigan Main Street program.
“Essentially, it means they’re picking up the ball and ready to run with it,” said Pablo Majano, an RRC planner.
Schreiner said receiving the recognition was a banner day for Grayling.
“This is a process which has been a long in the time in the making, and it’s working,” he said. “Grayling is growing, people have that vision, and I think this is one part of a culmination of a lot of things that are going on. It’s a great day for Grayling.”
Grayling City Manager Doug Baum said working to gain the certification solidifies Grayling’s future.
“RRC has done more for Grayling than just streamline our processes. It has helped us to understand the headaches a new developer or business owner would feel when there is not a plan or organized steps to follow,” Baum said. “We are supposed to help Grayling thrive, and having an unfriendly ordinance and processes that deter potential new jobs is not the way. RRC makes you look at all aspects of city planning and question if they are truly working or are a barrier.”