Township Community Development Director Lukas Hill said a developer is eyeing the vacant land on the southwest corner for a mixed-use commercial development. Hill said the developer has not yet filed an application and he doesn't know any details of the project at this time.
On Monday, the Township Board approved spending up to $16,000 for gateway designs that could include pillars, signage and landscaping.
“When you look at the intersection, it's one of our only lit intersections in the township,” Hill said. “Obviously, it's a very popular avenue to the beach and to the lakeshore. We're hoping to beautify the area and create a sense that you've arrived somewhere. If you look at what other communities have done, including the village, they've done improvements with brick pillars, wrought iron fencing and signage. We could mirror something like that — a combination of bricks and mortar along with some nice landscaping.”
The plans also include improving pedestrian accommodations on all four corners, including crosswalks with signage and clear markings on the pavement.
“Not only is it nice to look at, it's functional from a pedestrian standpoint,” Hill said. “It also sets the tone for what we might expect on the private sector. We want to say, 'Here's what we're willing to do in beautification. Can you carry the momentum into the private sector, as well?'
“So, whatever goes in there is hopefully going to be above and beyond standard building practices. We want something that's attractive in that vicinity,” he added.
Hill said “just about everything” is allowed in a mixed-use commercial district — residential, office and commercial.
“One of the only restrictions is that the residential (portion) would need to be on the second floor,” he said.
Township Manager Gordon Gallagher said that, at some point, property and business owners in the area will be invited to share their ideas of what they would like the gateway to look like.
“I don't know that we have anything specific in mind,” he said. “I think the issue is we want to start to plan how that intersection will look. That's in a lot of ways the gateway to the lakeshore. Should that be more of a welcoming kind of intersection or should it stay the way it is? Should there be some 'welcome' signage?”
Gallagher said the gateway design would be only in the right of way and that the Michigan Department of Transportation will need to be involved because M-104 is a state road.