Gladstone eyes North Shore development

Ilsa Matthes | Daily Press Wayne Beyea, specialist within the MSU School of Planning, Design and Construction’s Urban & Regional Planning Program, discusses the images on the Gladstone Yacht Club wall during the second North Shore Project meeting Monday night. Notes left on the images will be used to fine tune the development proposal for a series of properties on the city’s north shore.

GLADSTONE — Residents, community stakeholders, and city staff where at the Gladstone Yacht Club Monday to review and make suggestions on a proposal for the city’s north shore from educators and planners connected with Michigan State University’s Sustainable Built Environment Initiative (SBEI).

The North Shore Project, which is a joint project between MSU’s School of Planning, Design, and Construction and MSU Extension, focuses on how to best utilize the properties that are collectively known as “the North Shore.” Together, the properties cover approximately 50 acres and are owned by various stakeholders, including the city of Gladstone, Upper Lakes Holding, Inc., Fox River Terminals, Inc., Danforth Enterprises, Inc., and Medallion Management Inc.

While developing the area would would be a massive undertaking that would require cooperation from the current property owners, the work done through SBEI is designed to get the ball rolling on what developments could be possible in the area and what would make any development to that area successful in the eyes of residents.

“These kind of projects that we do as a vision are kind of meant to get everyone like, ‘Hey, let’s get with people that can make this kind of thing happen — In this case the landowners, obviously, and a developer and let’s get this going,'” said Warren Rauhe, associate professor emeritus of landscape architecture at MSU.

Monday’s meeting was the second in a series of meetings to create a development plan for the area that could be implemented. During the first meeting in February, developers and educators asked the public what they liked about the north shore, what they were sorry about as far as the area, and what they would like to see if they were to ride over the land in a hot air balloon 15 years from now. The plan for the land presented Monday was designed based on the answers given in February.

“We literally took all the comments that were written down and then categorized those and then worked those comments into the images,” said Wayne Beyea, specialist within the MSU School of Planning, Design and Construction’s Urban & Regional Planning Program.

After a brief introduction to the project, facilitators showed community members a series of maps for the area and a computer-generated video that allowed residents to view the property from a number of different directions and get a feel for what the development would look like. Every building in the video was white, leaving residents the opportunity to imagine architecture as they wished.

On the far northwest and far southeast ends of the property, the developers placed what they called “21st Century Employment Centers.” These areas could serve as office buildings or maker spaces, and provide a buffer between the heavily-industrialized properties surrounding the development area and the center of the development.

Near those employment centers on the south side of the development, mixed-use commercial and loft apartment complexes would further separate the center of the development from the industrial properties surrounding it. On the northeastern side of the development, near the Gladstone Public Safety building, a single mixed-use building housing a hotel, brewpub, and specialty shops would serve a similar role of providing a buffer as well as a hot-spot of activity for residents and tourists.

The center of the development would primarily be used as residential space. Using the natural topography of the land to ensure that every building had some view of the lake, cottages, duplexes, town homes, and apartments would provide around 250 living units based on this initial plan.

The development would also include a number of shared-use pathways — wide trails that could be used by walkers, bicyclists, and even cross-country skiers — a boat launch, boardwalk, and a pier near walleye spawning habitat.

SBEI developers dubbed the new development the “North Shore Dunes” and suggested that the name could be applied to businesses within the development district — like “The Lofts at North Shore Dunes” or “The North Shore Dunes Brewpub” — but the name, like everything else in the project, is still up for discussion.

“We’re not up here to defend a design proposal. That’s not what this is really about. What this is about is to get a sense of — think of it as peeling the onion to get closer to consensus as to what is the desired, preferred future on this,” said Beyea.

Following the presentation, residents were asked to review a series of photos and maps stuck to the walls and place sticky notes with comments on each of the images. Those notes will be used to determine what the community liked and disliked about the proposal and to fine-tune the design and the buildings’ architecture.

The next North Shore Project meeting is expected to take place in September. At that meeting, residents will be presented with the final version of the proposal.


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