With Livernois streetscape parking and access issues greatly improved, businesses say, “Check us out!”
- Livernois the easiest since before construction started
- Impacted businesses can apply starting next week for forgivable loans of up to $20K
- Marketing & cash grant events kick off Thursday at Table No. 2
- Excitement builds for new streetscape as multiple new businesses have recently located, including Shears & Shaves, Three Thirteen Shoe Doctor, The Broadway Men’s Clothes & more
Businesses along a 1.2-mile stretch of Livernois that is undergoing a $17 million reconstruction and streetscape redesign have a message for their customers: “Forget what you’ve heard about construction challenges; we are open for business and getting to us is easier than you think!”
After a period of intensive construction and limited access due to the removal of the controversial median and the roadway itself, Livernois is now populated with free and convenient off-street parking lots offering a total of 150 spaces with ample signage to direct motorists. There also is a free shuttle between noon and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday stopping at each of these free parking locations. The shuttle stops every 15 minutes, helping customers get to their destinations, where and when they want.
This all means that access to Livernois businesses is the easiest it has been since the start of construction.
“It’s getting easier and easier to get around Livernois as construction continues, and with the shuttle, free parking and now the forgivable loan program, we are feeling good about access to our businesses,” said Hugh Smith, owner of Baker’s Keyboard Lounge. “Now we need more people to come down, check us out and patronize the Avenue of Fashion. The construction hasn’t stopped us and it shouldn’t stop anybody from seeing everything Livernois has to offer.”
Between now and the end of November, Livernois between Margareta and Eight Mile is being transformed into a walkable, attractive streetscape with a dedicated left-turn lane, wider sidewalks for café seating, protected bike lanes and new landscaping and lighting. By the end of this construction season, all of the roadway and on-street parking will be completed and open to traffic.
The only construction that will carry over into Spring 2020 will be the installation of a portion of sidewalk on the west side of Livernois north of Pembroke, as well as cosmetic work, such as landscaping and the installation of benches and decorative lighting.
In addition to the efforts to make business access easier, the City also has been working closely with businesses to provide a range of financial support, ranging from grants to forgivable loans to property tax reductions based on lower sales during construction.
“The entire reason for this $17 million investment is to create a thriving commercial district to help take existing Livernois businesses to the next level and to attract new businesses to fill the empty storefronts,” said the City’s Group Executive for Planning, Housing and Development, Arthur Jemison. “We are making sure that the businesses who stayed have the support they need to realize the benefits of this revitalization once the streetscape is completed.”
Applications open for $20K forgivable loans
The City is committed to helping neighborhood businesses thrive – both during and after the Livernois streetscape construction, which will make the commercial corridor even more attractive and walkable for residents and visitors.
The City, through its partners at the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) and the Invest Detroit Foundation, is expected to launch a pilot loan program to support small businesses along Livernois as streetscape improvements continue along the corridor. The loan program will be managed by the DEGC through the Economic Development Corporation, which will be asked to approve the loan program at its Aug. 27 board meeting. Once the program is approved, applications will be available at degc.org.
Under the proposed program, on the basis of their pre-streetscape revenues, eligible business owners will be able to borrow $5,000 up to $20,000 and will not have to make any payments for the first two years, after the streetscape construction is complete. After making 24 months of on-time payments, the remaining 36 months of the loan will be forgiven, meaning the business owners can have 60% of their loan forgiven.
Interested Livernois businesses can contact Pierre Batton, Vice President for Small Business Programs at the DEGC, at [email protected] or 1- 844-338-4626 for more information.
Marketing and cash grant events kickoff Tuesday
The first marketing and cash grant events, modeled after the successful Detroit Soup program, will take place at 6 p.m. Aug. 22 at Table No. 2. These events will award more than $10,000 in prizes that will immediately help Livernois businesses. Attendees’ patronage will go directly to these small businesses.
This is just one of a series of marketing efforts underway by the City, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and Invest Detroit.
- Marketing and communications support: The City has engaged an outside PR firm and media consultant to work exclusively with Livernois business owners during construction to promote their businesses through paid advertising, earned media opportunities and grassroots/social media marketing. This is being provided at no cost to Livernois businesses.
- Open for business signage: The City has produced and installed signs, flags and banners to encourage people to shop on Livernois during construction, and highlight that Avenue of Fashion businesses are open and free parking is available.
“We have been working closely with the business community on Livernois to understand their concerns and make sure they have what they need to thrive during and after construction,” said Kim Tandy, District 2 manager. “We’ve been meeting weekly with business owners to make sure they know what to expect, and how the city can help. We’re going to stay in constant contact and continue to help these small businesses until the project is complete.”
Creating attractive, walkable commercial corridors
When completed in November, Livernois will be an attractive, business-friendly thoroughfare that will be safer for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians alike. The beautiful streetscape design will encourage more shopping, dining and pedestrian use of the street. Among its key features will be:
- Travel lanes that will be reconfigured to have one lane for traffic in each direction to reduce speeds and the addition of a new dedicated center left-turn lane.
- Wider 24-foot sidewalks to allow for café seating for businesses, along with new lighting and landscaping.
- Dedicated bike lanes that will be at sidewalk level, as opposed to street level.
The removal of the median will provide direct left turn access to all residential streets along the corridor, making it easier for drivers to get to the businesses. On-street parking on at least one side of the street will be available.