DDA adds two more projects to its plan

ALPENA — The Alpena Downtown Development Authority has added a pair of projects to its capital improvement plan. The two new projects increase the total number of future projects to nine.

During Tuesday’s DDA meeting, President Mike Mahler said the CIP was discussed at a recent economic development committee meeting and plans to install heated sidewalks downtown and a possible purchase the State Theater if it ever is for sale, were added to the seven existing projects. Mahler said both plans are being considered with an eye toward the future of downtown. All of the projects in the CIP will be prioritized and listed in the plan at a future meeting.

Mahler said keeping sidewalks in front of businesses in the DDA clear of snow and ice during the winter always has been a chore, no matter how much effort is made by owners. He said having heated sidewalks would help to alleviate the problems, but it is a plan that is in its infancy and one that likely will not happen soon.

“We don’t even know the viability of heated sidewalks, but if it made financial sense I think it would be silly not to pursue it,” he said. “Other communities have done it and it takes care of the sloppy sidewalks and the cost of removing snow.”

Mahler said having a plan to possibly purchase the theater when and if it is ever listed for sale is important because of its location and what it could be used for. He said Target Alpena also is interested in purchasing it if it becomes available and maybe partnering to acquire it would be wise.

“I think we would have to partner with someone who is bigger and who has more scale and resources,” Mahler said. “It is a historic building downtown and been there a long time and it could be a nice center for arts and entertainment.”

In other business:

∫ Executive Director Lesslee Dort told the board that several local businesses have teamed up to host events large enough that streets will need to be closed downtown. She provided no other details, but they will be made public as they are made available.

∫ Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Director Jim Klarich is going to request the Target Alpena board appoint Dort to represent the DDA.

∫ the Second Avenue bridge will be closed from Jan. 16 until the end of January for maintenance and repairs. By having it closed this winter for a few weeks, it will shorten the time it will need close this spring when there is more activity and traffic downtown.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at www.thealpenanews.com.