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Governor Granholm Designates 20 Projects for Cool Cities Pilot Program

June 2, 2004

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today announced that 20 Cool Cities pilot projects will receive catalyst grants of up to $100,000 and will have access to more than $100 million in state grants, loans, and other resources.  The initiative, designed to help foster the development of vibrant, attractive cities and urban centers, is part of Governor Granholm's economic development plan for Michigan.

Governor Jennifer Granholm
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Executive Summaries

The projects receiving grants are located in Alpena, Bay City, Detroit, Ferndale, Flint, Grand Rapids, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Marquette, Port Huron, Portland, Saginaw, Saugatuck, Sault Ste. Marie, Traverse City, Warren, and Ypsilanti.

"Building vibrant, energetic cities is essential to attracting jobs, people, and opportunity to our state," said Granholm.  "If Michigan is to be competitive in the 21st century economy, we have to attract new businesses and retain the highly-educated, talented young people who are crucial to building and sustaining businesses in today's global marketplace.  I'm thrilled about the potential of these projects and the positive impact they will have on their communities and the economic vitality of our state."

Each grant recipient will receive a catalyst grant of up to $100,000, as well as access to a "resource toolbox" that includes more than 75 of the state's community improvement grants, loan programs, and assistance programs.  Together, this "resource toolbox" and the catalyst grants leverage millions of existing dollars that are now being strategically directed to revitalization projects that present the best opportunity for success.

"One of the most exciting aspects of the Cool Cities grant selection process is that it involved a historic level of collaboration at both the state and local level," said David Hollister, Director of the Department of Labor and Economic Growth (DLEG).  "Whether you are talking to a member of one of the 143 cities with a local Cool City Advisory Group or a state team member from one of the 14 participating departments, people agree that this initiative has demonstrated an unprecedented level of teamwork and cooperation."

One hundred and fifty-one project applications from 112 Michigan cities were submitted for the Cool Cities pilot program.  A multi-agency team reviewed each project, looking for those that demonstrated close partnerships with existing community organizations and the private sector and offered plans for creating large-scale neighborhood or community improvement.

The projects not designated as part of this pilot program have been invited to attend an educational and training session in Lansing in August.  They will have the opportunity to meet with representatives from the DLEG, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), and the 14 participating state departments to discuss how they can improve their applications for the next round of grants and determine what other resources might be available to them from the state's resource toolbox.

Following are brief descriptions of the 20 projects receiving the Cool City pilot program grants.  More detailed information about each project is available at, which launches today as a resource and tool for Michigan cities and communities.  The state is filled with concept summaries and case studies, such as the "art hop" in Kalamazoo and youth entrepreneurship training and concepts to improve tolerance and diversity in Michigan's communities.  The website also offers complete access to the Michigan Cool Cities survey findings that will help cities attract and retain the 21st century workforce.

Alpena - The grant will be used to develop a pedestrian-orientated walkway through downtown on both sides of the river, providing non-motorized linkage between the downtown and public and private development projects occurring along the river.

Bay City - The project is Waterfall Park, to be located at the end of Third Street and extending to the first bridge to cross the Saginaw River.  The project is innovative, educational, and incorporates the natural beauty of the river community.

Detroit - The Greater Downtown Partnership proposes to renovate Shed #2 which will allow an additional 50 vendors to conduct business.  In addition, the project establishes the Eastern Market neighborhood as a link to the riverfront and downtown.

Detroit - The Jefferson East Business Association proposes to redevelop three dilapidated buildings into Entertainment and Technology Incubators.  They will contain 28 residential loft apartments, a TV production studio, and a number of retail and food service establishments.

Detroit - The Southwest Detroit Business Association proposes the renovation of the Odd Fellows Hall located in the heart of the Springwells neighborhood.  It will become a key anchor in this multicultural area.

Ferndale - The Ferndale Downtown Development Authority would use the catalyst grant to expand the BUILD Program, which offers a 20 percent reimbursement for exterior building improvements to properties within the downtown area.  Additional Cool City funding would enable up to five properties to be added to the program.

Flint - The grant will be used to restore the exterior of the Republic Bank Building which will become First Street Lofts, a 16-unit loft development in downtown Flint.

Grand Rapids - The Avenue for the Arts Project includes the historic renovation of seven buildings, streetscape improvements along with the creation of public art, murals, and the development of 35 loft apartments.

Grand Rapids - The Uptown Revitalization Project contains a new retail development utilizing green technology that is compatible with historic district standards; a façade improvement program for historic commercial structures; and a wayfinding design program to increase the walkability of the Uptown area.

Jackson - The Jackson Armory Arts Project will include the redevelopment of an abandoned industrial site into a center for the arts and culture, including 39 affordable loft apartments.

Kalamazoo - The City of Kalamazoo will use the grant monies to move Smartshop, a unique metalworking school, gallery, and sculpture garden to a new location on the city's north side.

Marquette - The Marquette Commons Project will consist of a groomed, refrigerated ice plaza with a skating rink, warming house, a non-motorized trail and a fountain located near the heart of the city on the site of an old parking lot and elevated railroad trestle.

Port Huron - The catalyst project is conversion of the Relic Building into an Art Incubator for artists.  The neighborhood is a vibrant, traditional downtown neighborhood offering diverse arts and culture in the heart of this historic city.

Portland - The catalyst project is a boardwalk that will connect the pedestrian bridge over the confluence of the Grand and Looking Glass Rivers.  The boardwalk will run along the back of the commercial buildings on the 100 block of Kent Street.  The grant will leverage additional funding for the development of lofts in the buildings.

Saginaw - The catalyst grant will be used to redevelop two currently vacant buildings into first-floor commercial and second-floor residential uses.  The two buildings are the former Aubry Cleaners building and the Federal Avenue Building.

Saugatuck - The project involves the renovation of the old Pie Factory into the Saugatuck Center for the Arts and the enhancement of the adjacent city parking area, including streetscape improvements on Mason Street and Culver Street.

Sault Ste. Marie - The project proposes to restore and renovate the classic and historic Soo Theatre Complex to its original grandeur of the 1930's.  This project is part of the downtown revitalization and will provide economic development and other economic benefits.

Traverse City - The project will establish an Entrepreneurial Institute to help instill an independent entrepreneurial culture into the Grand Traverse community.

Warren - The City Square Project is a two-acre urban park that will contain a multipurpose improvement that is a fountain in the warmer months and an ice rink in the winter.  The City Square will be bounded by the new City Hall/Library, high-density residential and commercial retail, and a childcare center.

Ypsilanti - Downtown Ypsilanti plans facility improvements to the Riverside Arts Center and to partner with DTE to expand the project.  The project will involve the reutilization of a vacant office structure for retail gallery, studio, office and theater set construction and other Arts Center uses in Ypsilanti's downtown historic neighborhood.