The Downtown Dearborn Strategic Plan of 2016, prepared by POW! Strategies, Inc., identified image and walkability as two of the top five transformational strategies. Michigan Avenue being the largest impediment for residents and visitors alike, but also the arterial streets that feed off it known as the “connector streets” in the WDDDA. Additional findings from the National Resource Network study provided further evidence that the community desired more walkability from their neighborhoods to the downtown, as well as a more pleasant environment.
Stemming from these plans, the WDDDA continued a contract with NRN and its local architectural partner SmithGroup to prepare concepts for the north Connector Streets of Howard, Mason and Monroe in conjunction with Michigan Avenue and West Village Drive/Wagner Place Streetscapes. Multiple rounds of public input were conducted to help determine the overall design plan in 2017-18.
As West Village Drive and Wagner Place streetscapes of over $2 million were completed and opened in 2019 giving way to a new design aesthetic and micro-mobility, plans for Michigan Avenue were also underway in trying to secure a grant to help make Michigan Avenue more walkable and accessible as well. While the City of Dearborn was unable to secure the grant for Michigan Avenue, a MDOT roadway, and ran into issues with MDOT right-of-way, it was able to leverage their own funds to begin the transformation of the Connector Streetscape project.
Even through a pandemic, the WDDDA and City of Dearborn were able to work together to greatly improve the Connector Streets, bringing defined on-street parking, furthering micro-mobility connections, creating more walkable, well-lit sidewalks and beautifying the area with lush perennial beds and hanging baskets with an overall investment of over $2 million.