The city of Saline can now burnish its nameplate with the full-fledged Michigan Main Street community title. Saline is the first city in Washtenaw County to earn this distinction.
The new designation follows after the city's associate-level membership in the Michigan State Housing Development Authority's (MSHDA) Michigan Main Street
program, an application process that exceeded one year, and a cadre of volunteers. The state's program is under the umbrella of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Main Street
organization. The program focuses on placemaking for communities, facilitating vibrancy and economic development in their downtowns.
With this new hallmark comes benefits: The program provides five years of training, resources, and networking to help the city create a strategic plan to identify downtown enhancement and business attraction projects. To start with, in April the city will receive a baseline assessment by consultants from the national center, according to Cindy Czubko, chairperson of the Saline Business Development Association and president of Saline Main Street
. Other services include branding, architectural design, in-depth market analysis, business recruiting assistance, and fundraising assistance for the new non-profit, Saline Main Street, established to administer the effort.
One priority will be a vacant parcel at 147 W. Michigan Avenue that's ready for redevelopment, Czubko says. A developer's plans to turn the property into a mixed-use residential and retail project were felled by the economic downturn.
Saline's Economic Development Corporation has committed $200,000 to the venture over five years. There is no cost for the program, but the city is required to hire a full-time Michigan Main Street manager.
"It's a proven method of downtown revitalization, and it's been proven for over 30 years," Czubko says. "So we're pretty proud of being selected and very excited about getting started."
Source: Cindy Czubko, chairperson of the Saline Business Development Association and president of Saline Main Street
Writer: Tanya Muzumdar