Muskegons Two Earn Cool Too

July 28, 2006
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MUSKEGONMuskegonCounty just keeps getting “cooler” with Muskegon and MuskegonHeights both receiving Cool Cities grants in this year’s round of funding.

Muskegon received a “Neighborhoods in Progress” designation that will allow the city priority access to existing state grant funds, loans, tax credits or services.

Muskegon has also received a $100,000 catalyst grant, which will fund the creation of a gathering place at the corner of Third Street and Western Avenue by funding façade improvements for the buildings owned by Western Avenue Properties, as well as a public art composition commissioned by the Muskegon Museum of Art and a wireless Internet hot spot initiated by Muskegon Main Street.

Dan Rinsema-Sybenga,

Muskegon Main Street
manager, said the Cool Cities Advisory Committee had submitted an application for façade improvements last year but was not successful. This year they expanded the application to a “sense of place.”

“We decided to tweak what we had done last year with some new project elements,” he said.

Rinsema-Sybenga said he believes the elements of the project fit with the goals for the area.

“I think (wireless Internet) is an amenity that downtowns and business parks and commercial spaces are trying to offer. They see the value it has in attracting people,” he said. “We think it’s going to have that same effect in downtown Muskegon.”

The façade improvement will also play an important role, according to Rinsema-Sybenga.

“I think in order to set the tone of the development that’s going to occur on the (former Muskegon Mall) site, properly restored historic facades are going to set the bar for the quality of the development,” Rinsema-Sybenga said. “Also, they’re going to remind people of the history of the intersection and the commercial corridor in Muskegon.”

Rinsema-Sybenga said he believes the funding is an acknowledgement of the collaboration and investment that has recently been taking place in downtown Muskegon

“The state likes to choose projects that have a lot of investment focused on a certain area,” he said. “All the investment is what makes them willing to give that designation and throw in that catalyst grant.”

MuskegonHeights has been chosen as one of the cities to receive a “Blueprints for Michigan’s Downtowns” grant. The Michigan State Housing and Development Authority and a consulting staff will provide a public process and action-oriented strategy to revitalize the downtown area over a three- to five-year period. The grant includes a market study and is a 50-50 matching grant with the Michigan State Housing and Development Authority paying for half the consulting fee.    

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