By Maleah Egelston
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer
After a week of discussions and planning by local business leaders, politicians and community members, plans for restructuring and revitalizing one of the county’s busiest corridors are becoming clearer. The project, part of the Mid-Michigan Program for Greater Sustainability, is designed to improve the area along Michigan Avenue and Grand River Avenue which stretches almost 20 miles from Lansing to Webberville.
The main components of the project are making the corridor more walkable, increasing green space, improving existing infrastructure and new commercial and residential buildings to make the area more livable and desirable, said Victor Dover, a leaders of the project.
“New development revitalizes the character of an area, but our priority is to add, not destroy,” Dover said. “We want to build upon what’s already there and rejuvenate the area.”
Leading the project is Bill Lennertz, executive director of the Portland based National Charrette Institute. Though his group is not based in Michigan, Lennertz said that it plans to use input from local organizations that understand the area.
This project is part of the Michigan Avenue and Grand River Avenue Charrettes, a series of collaborative work sessions designed to create a plan for the region’s future.
“This design project is really special because it uses local and national ideas,” Lennertz said. “Without local people, we would be lost.”
Some of the organizations involved in the charrette are the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, CATA, the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council and Michigan State University. Since the start of the project in May, members of these organizations and others have put more than 2,700 hours of work into this project, Dover said.
Another goal of the project is to help communities from all parts of the corridor come together and create a unified goal and plan for the area’s future, Dover said. Commissioner Brian McGrain said he believes this project will help build a sense of community within the region.
“It’s really exciting and promising that people from all over the tri-county area are getting involved,” McGrain said.
Once planning is complete, the project will start being implemented in small increments over the next 20 years.