BRIGHTON, Mich. – Nick Mannisto is a little nervous as he wonders what the future holds for his new company, Captain’s ön Main, as a nearly year-long Street View project begins in downtown Brighton.
Mannisto opened a brick-and-mortar pizza and coffee shop at 423 W. Main St. In September, it quickly became known about the project that would completely transform the downtown area.
“As a new business owner, it was much harder for me to get my name out there and have the road closed for a year,” he said. “(It’s going to be) difficult for small town businesses. Coming out of COVID and getting into this, it’s a little rough on everyone.”
The City of Brighton Streetscape project cost approximately $6.5 million and was directed by the Downtown Development Authority to modernize downtown streets, sidewalks and infrastructure while bringing numerous improvements to the city. The project affects Main Street between Rio Grande Boulevard and First Street, and Rio Grande Boulevard between St. Louis and St. Louis. Paul Street and North Street.
A plumbing project started on Monday, January. 9, Main Street from Rio Grande Boulevard to South Second Street to replace Centennial Waterline. Intermittent lane closures and detours are in effect until the work is completed in late March.
DDA President Tim Corrigan said streetscape improvements are scheduled to start in April after the plumbing work and finish by November at the latest. They include larger sidewalks that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, modern LED lighting, bike parking areas, improved landscaping, smaller roads that will preserve on-street parking, and more.
The city is working with civil engineering and community planning firm Giffels Webster on the redesign.
“Public safety is the number one priority to ensure we are fully ADA compliant while making our downtown a welcoming, safe environment for everyone to come visit, shop and enjoy,” Corrigan said. “So it’s also a modernization effort.”
The project hopes to boost the city’s economy by bringing businesses to the area, as well as new customers for existing businesses, Corrigan said.
local business participation
Toni Reese, owner of Running Lab, said she thought her company, which had been selling running gear in central Brighton, would have no problem during construction because it was more of a “destination”.
However, Rees said she could foresee the coming months could be problematic for other businesses that rely on foot traffic.
“It can be a challenge for others to get into Brighton city center and have to deal with detours and parking restrictions,” she said. “As for us (at Running Lab), it’s a wait-and-see game.”
Anyone talking to local businesses is likely to hear a “strong mix” of concern and optimism about the project, Reese said.
“I think a lot of it has to do with where you are, the construction schedule and whether you have a back door entry,” she said.
When sidewalk construction begins, how customers get into a business is a big concern for business owners, Reese said. Corrigan said city staff will work with contractors to ensure access is maintained for all businesses.
Another impact of the project will be an annual event in the city centre. “It’s up to the event organizers to have the event at another location in the city (and) the city is still working with event applicants on this topic,” Corrigan said.
The City of Brighton has an “open line of communication” with businesses about the project, including hosting meetings.
“I look forward to (looking forward to) the beautification of downtown (and) making it more accessible to everyone,” Reese said. “The sidewalks and crosswalks and stuff in downtown are outdated. The safety and comfort of our downtown would be great and should bring back foot traffic.”
Mannisto and Reese agree that to complete the closures required for the project, businesses in central Brighton need to band together and support each other, whether it’s advertising, promotions or selling goods on behalf of other shops.
“I think (the project) will definitely bring us more together because we have to communicate more,” Rees said. “I think we’ll be more united (and) we’ll see more cross-promotion.”
Background and next steps for the Brighton Street View project
The Street View project has been ongoing since 2018, when the City of Brighton began looking at what needed to be done, Corrigan said, adding that the last time improvements were made to this part of the city center was about 25 years ago.
The project was developed and approved by the DDA and endorsed by Brighton City Council. The final design was approved in September.
Information about other street closures and construction during the project will be available on the city website. For the latest information on the project, visit the City of Brighton’s website or Giffels Webster’s website.
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