With the orange barrels having been delivered on Monday, July 6, construction is officially underway on the McNichols streetscaping project.
It’s a sight that is no doubt a relief to project organizers; commencement of the McNichols streetscaping was delayed for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Such construction projects weren’t allowed, and City Council was forced to recess. Once they did return, a backlog of tasks forced a delay even further.
But now a stretch of McNichols Road — what’s known colloquially as Six Mile — is not only being resurfaced but completely reimagined.
From Greenlawn Avenue to the west to Livernois Avenue to the east, McNichols is set to undergo a transformation, incorporating a host of measures aimed to make the area safer for pedestrians and more appealing for businesses and their customers alike.
The street will be resurfaced and reconfigured to implement traffic calming measures. New sidewalks will be built with landscaping, street trees, and lighting. Bike lanes, pedestrian crossings, and bus station islands will be built to improve safety.
Construction is expected to be completed in November.
Part of Live6 (Livernois and Six Mile), the area is anchored by the Marygrove Conservancy and University of Detroit Mercy.
“The street itself is set up in a way that already feels like a quaint shopping district — not like the wide avenues of Grand River. So it already makes development easier,” says Caitlin Marcon, the city’s deputy director of Complete Streets and leader of the project.
“It’s surrounded by wonderful single-family-home neighborhoods like Bagley and Fitzgerald. And there are existing businesses like Detroit Sip and Lucki’s Cheesecakes already doing great things there.
“There’s a lot of energy around McNichols, so it made sense for the city to double down on our investment there.”
That investment is part of an $80 million project to revitalize 26 commercial corridors throughout the city, which is part of the network of Neighborhood Framework Plans, made possible by a $125 million bond in 2016.
The streetscaping plans happening throughout the city are an effort to bring “downtown-type projects to the neighborhoods,” Marcon says. While private investment helps to bring those projects to fruition in the city center, it wasn’t until the city’s finances and credit rating improved that it could fund such projects on its own.
Still, for all the optimism about the streetscaping plan, concerns about the effect construction will have on existing businesses are ever-present. And that was the case well before the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, complicating things even further.
The city has partnered with the Live6 Alliance to help communicate with the community. They’ll put out sandwich boards and feather flags to advertise that businesses are still open. Construction contracts stipulate that crews must maintain pedestrian access to area businesses. And a temporary parking lot has been built to ease parking concerns.
“The people that I hear from are excited. Right now, businesses are only getting the customers that already know they’re there,” says Lashawna Manigault, the business liaison to the district for the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.
“These improvements will create a new image and attract people from across the city and the state.”Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.