Vision plan approved for Muskegon Heights

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A view of Broadway Avenue in Muskegon Heights after the renovation of the Strand Theater property and Rowan Park. Rendering Courtesy Greater Muskegon Economic Development

Muskegon Heights recently received approval to revitalize its downtown.

The Muskegon Downtown Development Authority (DDA) last week approved the Reaching New Muskegon Heights vision plan.

As part of a broader New Muskegon Heights initiative, the vision plan is the culmination of an 18-month process with public surveys, focus groups and in-person tours with stakeholders.

Greater Muskegon Economic Development (GMED) is managing the project and hired Ann Arbor consultant SmithGroup to develop the plan document.

A key element of the plan is the renovation of the Strand Theater, the largest commercial property in downtown Muskegon Heights at 39 E. Broadway Ave.

Preliminary ideas for the space include a new performing arts center and restaurant on the ground floor, office space on the second floor and three floors of residences above.

“Although there have been limited investments in the Strand Theater in the past, this is the first time we have laid out a comprehensive, long-term vision for this property,” said Muskegon Heights City Manager Troy Bell. “If done correctly, the revitalization of the Strand property has the potential to reignite interest and spur new development throughout our downtown.”

The new vision plan also outlines an idea for the redesign of nearby Rowan Park and surrounding properties.

A view of Center Street near Muskegon Heights City Hall as a shared pedestrian area designed to host festivals and events in the city’s core downtown. Rendering Courtesy Greater Muskegon Economic Development

“This plan honors the great citizens and community of Muskegon Heights by creating a vision for the downtown that our community deserves,” Bell said. “Every successful community has at its core a thriving downtown, and we intend to capitalize on the assets we already have to create a downtown that we can all be proud of for generations to come.”

The city now will apply for permits and Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) funds for the Strand Theater renovation, and it will seek grants to support projects such as repaving and streetscaping along Broadway Avenue.

MEDC and the Community Foundation for Muskegon County contributed funds to the development of the plan document.

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