Thursday, February 11, 2021

Downtown street closures extended by city

The social district in downtown Northville will remain open for another year.

Members of the city council approved a proposal by the Downtown Development Authority (DDA)to extend closures of portions of Main and North Center streets through April 30, 2022. 

The approval came at the regular Feb. 1 meeting of council members who had discussed results of a survey about the project during the Jan. 27 meeting. The survey garnered 2,600 responses and showed strong support for continuing the downtown street closures.

Portions of the streets involved were closed to traffic last June to expand outdoor dining and permit sidewalk retail sales in an effort to help restaurants and businesses in downtown Northville manage successful operations during the pandemic. In August, the city and DDA obtained a Social District license from the state that allows downtown restaurants with a special permit to sell alcohol in designated cups that can be ordered to go and consumed within the commons area.

In December, Heat in the Street was introduced, enabling restaurants to sell to-go food items and beverages from vendor stands. Patrons can enjoy food and beverages in heated pods - lighted wood and aluminum structures set up in the Social District.

The special event application and the Michigan Liquor Control Commission Temporary Expanded Outdoor Dining permits were also extended by city officials at the meeting. The extensions will allow officials from the DDA and the city a 12-month period to determine the future and need for the expanded social district when the pandemic subsides.

Local resident Lenore Lewandowski told the council members that while she supports the street closures, she believes one year is a long time to close the streets. She asked council members to review the street closures again in six months explaining that she is concerned about traffic flow once the pandemic eases and people are driving regularly.

Her opinion was not shared by resident Kathy Ruble who told the council members that she is happy with the places local merchants have created for patrons for shopping and dining. 

“My family loves what this city has done,” she said. And added that she considers it an investment and would like to see the street closures become permanent if the one-year extension prove successful.

Ross Dore, however, had some issues with the social district. While he likes what the merchants and restaurants have done, he said, he told officials that the music is too loud for those eating dinner.

DDA Director Lori Ward responded that she would investigate the music volume with the business owners, who are currently providing the background music.