Marsha Chartrand

Grant Filed for Riverfront Development Project – “Orange Building” Not Included in Plan

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As the riverfront park development project is getting under way, with grant applications filed in the nick of time to meet the April 1 deadline, questions are being asked about how this development will progress.

Currently, only the former “Buss Property,” the site of the old barn structure that was removed two years ago, is scheduled for development. This property is owned by the Village of Manchester and includes a narrow leg of land along the riverfront which extends all the way to Main Street. This upgrade to the park and riverfront system is the purpose of the development grant application that was sent in to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) on March 31.

Plans for this site include fishing decks, overlooks, a canoe/kayak landing, and an amphitheater-like performance space facing the River Raisin. The leg reaching to Main Street will allow continuity of the Shared Use Trail as it crosses the river, using the Main Street bridge as a crossing point.

Some site plans that were proposed included development of more open space on the northwest corner at Main Street and M-52—the former IGA grocery store, also known as “the orange building.” This could have incorporated more parking for the east end of the downtown, as well as a future site for the farmer’s market and other events.

The Village Council and the Riverfront Development Committee considered applying for an acquisition grant to attempt to purchase this site for future development, but too many barriers stood in the way—most of them time-related. With final approval of the project taking place in late February, and grant applications for both development and acquisition due April 1, coordinating a purchase agreement for the site with an absentee owner was not possible.

“It is very much still in our long-range plans to explore all the possibilities for that corner,” said Pat Vailliencourt, Village President, at last week’s Council meeting. “But with the deadline approaching, we simply ran out of time to have all the paperwork done to file for a grant for acquisition of more property.”

The MNRTF grant timeline includes preliminary notification to grantees in August, 2014, and a final decision by early December. The project could begin as soon as late 2015, depending on funding.

Currently, the riverfront development project will include only the former Buss Property. However, an eventual acquisition grant for the corner of M-52 and Main St. is still under consideration.

Currently, the riverfront development project will include only the former Buss Property. However, an eventual acquisition grant for the corner of M-52 and Main St. is still under consideration.

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