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Thread: Traverse City (one of APA's great places)

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Traverse City (one of APA's great places)

    Was debating whether to post these here or in my local Urban Planet. The latter won out.

    http://www.urbanplanet.org/forums/in...post&p=1093690

    Here's the Planning squib:
    http://planning.org/greatplaces/stre...09/index.htm#F
    Last edited by Veloise; 19 Oct 2009 at 11:18 AM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Copy, paste, post! C'mon!
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Copy, paste, post! C'mon!
    Sheesh.
    Most of my comments are specific to how TC relates to GR, and there's emphasis on some of the Planet's on-going discussions and pet peeves. (Streetlight banners. Recycle bins. Parking. Bike parking. On-street parking. Retail. Etc.)

    Traverse City photos

    Had an appointment there, so I spent some time on Front Street and nearby.

    First, the wayfinding signs. I am something of a signage nazi on UP. Formerly worked for the DDA director, and one of my projects involved the wayfinding signs here.









    Check out the name for the bus! (TC is the home of the national cherry festival. The region is a major producer of tart cherries, and the great new by-product, dried cherries.)


    This one is old. I guess they are nostalgic.


    Wonder if this would work here. (in GR, second largest city in Michigan)


    And now a meander down Front Street.
    Pocket park #1


    Fairly nice product, out on the sidewalk to attract passers-by. (This was about 4 pm last Friday.)
    The UP version of Dan managed to shoot many pics of ped-friendly TC with nary a pedestrian. I deliberately included same.)









    DT bookstore. One of the retailers bemoaned the fact that they had no public restrooms, and sent me here.


    Pocket park #2


    and a lovely greenscaped wall


    More to follow...
    Last edited by Veloise; 19 Oct 2009 at 1:41 PM.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    More pics from my promenade along Front Street in TC.



    Closer look at this hanging sign


    Lots of decorative planters with exotic designs


    Interesting streetlights


    Dog amenities




    Lower level retail on this popular street.


    Seasonal decorations (shoe store)


    If it weren't for the realty sign, you'd never guess that this is a vacant storefront. (On UP we are always encouraging building owners to dress up their vacant properties.)


    More planters, and a front window decked out for Halloween. The armchair on the left looks like something Martha Stewart found in the woods.


    Nifty bulb-out treatment: decorative fencing, benches, historical marker, trash and recycling bins.


    A few more...breaking them up enables additional commentary.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Turned the corner off Front Street; wanted to keep walking.

    Even this unfriendly wall has some nice features for pedestrians.


    More lovely plantings (I harped on these in UP because the local downtown alliance -- AIB the "keep it a secret" folks -- work on our DT vegetation here.)


    This retailer decorated the planting strip in the alley.





    Wonder what's behind this modernized facade.


    And a look at some street furniture


    The green bin has several slots in the top, but it is a single-stream container underneath.


    ~~~~~~~~~~
    While exploring, I was running through some of the design elements that made this street so appealing.
    --High concentration of "drop in" retail selling small consumables. TC has the highest concentration of ice cream-fudge-candy-popcorn-coffee stores I've ever seen. Several stores offered larger items with higher tickets (nice clothing, jewelry, home furnishings) and they were right next to a place rolling out fudge or caramel corn atop a marble slab in the window. Every coffee place offered outdoor seating, and most of the sweet shops had a couple of tables inside.

    --A traffic lane, a bike lane, on-street parking on both sides. Multiple ped xings. It seemed that one end of a crossing led to one of the little parks. Fairly wide right-of-way and shorter (2 or 3-story) buildings. Things felt open and inviting.

    --Lots of benches, city planters, street trees, bike racks, recycling bins, newspaper boxes, street lights (two styles). wayfinding signs, wayfinding maps, historical markers. Not a street to rush through; nooks and crannies to explore.

    --Highly decorated store windows with lots of detail. Open-door retail with items displayed outside. More than one store had the door propped open, and various goods hanging from it.

    --Parking everywhere. Get out of your car and wander. Bring your dog. Bring your bike.

    --The usual resort town retail with promotional shirts and local souvenirs. High concentration of cherry-themed product. Several stores with postcard racks.

    --Front Street doesn't really relate to the bay and the nearby water, but it's easy enough to get there. When you're all bay-gazed out, come get a coffee and some popcorn, and a dog biscuit.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Front Street is an amazing place in the summer. It’s a little sleepy in the winter, but still a good time and a great place for holiday shopping. Some highlights:

    State Theater – Classic movie house recently renovated complete with lights in ceiling resembling constellations/night sky
    Opera House – Beautiful unique architecture for such a small town - http://www.cityoperahouse.org/
    Park Place Hotel – Go to the 10th floor on a summer night for a drink and enjoy the view of the Bay - http://www.park-place-hotel.com/
    Bicycle trails – Downtown is well connected to the TART, which takes you to all places scenic around the Grand Traverse Bay - http://www.traversetrails.org/
    Film Festival – Annual festival that takes place in late July/early August, many independent films, plus free ones on the Open Space overlooking the Bay

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Plus
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    On my list of places to visit.

    1 day in town, 1 day out at the dunes, what else should one do or see ?
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JNA View post
    On my list of places to visit.

    1 day in town, 1 day out at the dunes, what else should one do or see ?
    When? Pretty soon we'll be dealing with grey rainy cold November.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    TC is a great small town. Go in the summer during the Cherry Festival and hit some of the many vineyards to the north. If you pinots (both gries and noir), rieslings and Gewurztraminer. Regardless of your political views the film festival is outstanding, or so I have heard.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JNA View post
    what else should one do or see ?
    Leelanau peninsula wineries - http://www.lpwines.com/winemap/

    Mission peninsula wineries - http://www.wineriesofoldmission.com/map.html

    Dennos Museum - http://www.dennosmuseum.org/

  11. #11
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, Leland, Northport, and of course caSINos!
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    ... caSINos!
    Yep, that sort of attraction is completely unique to the Grand Traverse area. Well worth seeing. Inside of Vegas-designed buildings, with no windows. Just have your limo or tour bus drop you off, no need for pesky sidewalks.

    The tart cherry industry has just launched a new initiative hawking their juice, supposedly better than acai or pomegranate.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by JNA View post
    On my list of places to visit.

    1 day in town, 1 day out at the dunes, what else should one do or see ?
    Definitely check out the Grand Traverse Commons while you're in town. It's a former state mental hospital, and is now an amazing mixed-use redevelopment project that a very ambitious and dedicated developer is undertaking. Building 50 is the big cheese, and is 5 stories high with retail in the bottom floor, offices on the first and second floors, and residential condos in the upper floors (each unique).

    I believe the building is about a quarter mile long, and is now halfway renovated. It's very cool, and an extraordinarily expensive brownfield project due to asbestos and lead abatement. It's also a renaissance zone until 2018 or so - no property taxes. Building 50 isn't the only structure though - it's surrounded by many other "cottages," large buildings with great potential for additional mixed-use development. I believe they estimate over 7 million square feet of space is on site.

    Some of the retail businesses on site include restaurants, clothing, hair salons, a fixed-gear bike shop, a bakery, cheesecake and coffee shop, and a couple of wine tasting rooms. There is so much additional potential here, and it's really mind blowing to consider the possibilities when you take a walk around the place. The Village center is surrounded by parkland, including a parcel with two historic barns that are operated by a joint recreational authority and will serve as a community gathering and community agricultural space.

    Here's the main website -> http://www.thevillagetc.com, and here are some really cool before and after shots -> http://www.thevillagetc.com/before_a...ery/index.html

    The Commons straddles the boundary of Traverse City and Garfield Township. A zoning district unique to the area is in place, along with a joint planning commission with 2 members appointed by the city, 2 by the township, and one jointly appointed. Right now the joint PC is finishing up a revised master plan for the area, to be followed shortly by a zoning ordinance. The Brownfield plan is also currently being considered for a very significant expansion. It's a very neat project and I'd encourage everyone to check it out.
    Last edited by BrianVDB; 29 Oct 2009 at 5:27 PM.

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    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    I won a two-night stay at a family-themed lodging establishment right outside of Traverse City that expires in the middle of December.

    The wife and I want to try to make it up there soon as I have never been there but unfortunately:
    1. The prize is not good Friday or Saturday nights
    2. The establishment is really focused on families with young children and I might feel like a pervert
    3. The wife is in the middle of end of year audits from now until forever (she audits mostly local governments and school districts)

    Oh well... maybe I'll be a good brother/uncle and give the prize to my sister (as much as it would pain me to do!) so she can take her son.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    I won a two-night stay at a family-themed lodging establishment right outside of Traverse City that expires in the middle of December.

    The wife and I want to try to make it up there soon as I have never been there but unfortunately:
    1. The prize is not good Friday or Saturday nights
    2. The establishment is really focused on families with young children and I might feel like a pervert
    3. The wife is in the middle of end of year audits from now until forever (she audits mostly local governments and school districts)

    Oh well... maybe I'll be a good brother/uncle and give the prize to my sister (as much as it would pain me to do!) so she can take her son.
    Yes, give it to somebody with kids. That place wouldn't be much fun as two adults. Trade it for Jeep parts (p.s. I'm mtnbikinbryno on GL )

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    This looks like a really nice downtown! I'm impressed. Someday I'll get to Michigan...

    How are these downtown retailers doing given the current state of the economy?

    BTW, Traverse City is one of the destinations rated in the Nov/Dec 2009 issue of National Geographic Traveler. The ratings are made on the basis of authenticity and stewardship. Traverse City and the lakeshore scored only a 63 -- a "place in the balance" -- but the article cites the locally-owned businesses, cultural character, and overall charm of the downtown as among the positive aspects of the area (negatives included summer traffic and waterfront vacation homes).

  17. #17
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Once you get away from Downtown or the Waterfront Traverse is a mess of congested roadways and stripmalls. The larger Traverse area however contains some beautiful places such as Sleeping Bear, Torch Lake, Northport, Leland, Interlochen, vineyards, cherry orchards, and many other gems. If you're in the area you must drive through the City to get from most destinations to others because of its unique geography. The City has been able to capitalize on this and is the major market and medical center for Northwest Lower Michigan. I can see it scoring very high for beauty and quality of life in many places, but there are other parts of its area where it is a mess (mostly due to market forces).

    The local economy is very much based on tourism, however there are many extremely wealthy people who own second homes in the area. I would suspect that they are not doing too good, but not as bad as other parts of Michigan that rely on tourists.

    The bottom line, if you are on Highway 72 or 22, the urban area is wonderful and worth the congestion. If you are on US31/M-37 not so much. It is worth going to regardless.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  18. #18
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    Once you get away from Downtown or the Waterfront Traverse is a mess of congested roadways and stripmalls. The larger Traverse area however contains some beautiful places such as Sleeping Bear, Torch Lake, Northport, Leland, Interlochen, vineyards, cherry orchards, and many other gems. If you're in the area you must drive through the City to get from most destinations to others because of its unique geography. The City has been able to capitalize on this and is the major market and medical center for Northwest Lower Michigan. I can see it scoring very high for beauty and quality of life in many places, but there are other parts of its area where it is a mess (mostly due to market forces).

    The local economy is very much based on tourism, however there are many extremely wealthy people who own second homes in the area. I would suspect that they are not doing too good, but not as bad as other parts of Michigan that rely on tourists.

    The bottom line, if you are on Highway 72 or 22, the urban area is wonderful and worth the congestion. If you are on US31/M-37 not so much. It is worth going to regardless.
    True, the US31 corridor is a product of liberal commercial zoning districts dating back over 40 years when the surrounding townships wanted to draw the growth. It's what we have to work with now, and can only do our best to encourage sustainable redevelopment of the sprawl, as is the case with planners and suburban areas across the country without the luxury of an established, walkable, mixed-use downtown surrounded by traditional neighborhoods. By the way, M72 doesn't get a free pass.... it's nearly as strip-malled out as US31 when you get east of the city.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Mud Princess View post
    How are these downtown retailers doing given the current state of the economy?
    From what I have heard, they are doing pretty good. The Front Street area has been getting more upscale over the past five years, but that is not neccesarily a bad thing. I love the new Red Ginger restaurant, even though the prices are a little steep. Across the street is a Cold Stone Creamery, which I detest, but that's because the hipster music store that was there first went out of business a couple of years ago. (I blame Napster on that one. Front street will never be the same. )

  20. #20
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BrianVDB View post
    TrueBy the way, M72 doesn't get a free pass.... it's nearly as strip-malled out as US31 when you get east of the city.
    Thats why I said it was worth the congestion. The gloomiest stretch is by the college/penninsula.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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