Strategic Plan - City of Alpena



Strategic Plan - City of Alpena
Alpena Downtown Development Authority
Market Analysis and
Downtown Strategic Plan
June 2003
Alpena Downtown Development Authority
Market Analysis and Downtown StrategicPlan
June 2003
Alpena DDA Board Members
Phil Ludlow, Mayor
Lynn Kolasa, Executive Director
Wayne Calkins, DDA Chairman
Barbara Bakalarski, Vice Chairman
Gary Graham
Dan White
Anne Fletcher
Steve Wilson
Dennis Schultz
Martin Thomson
Alpena City Council
Philip Ludlow, Mayor
David R. Karschnick, Sr., Mayor Pro-Tem
Carol Shafto
John F. Gilmet
Mike Polluch
Alan Bakalarksi, City Manager
Greg Sundin, City Planner
In association with
Table of Contents
Previous Planning Studies
Review of Community Plans
Findings and Conclusions
Existing Conditions
Physical Conditions of the District
Market Assessment
Market Assessment Methodology
DDA District Market Strategy
Positioning and Cluster Strategy
Public Involvement
Visioning Sessions
Preferred Future
Downtown Framework Plan
Downtown Implementation Strategies
Organizational Strategies
Design and Physical Improvement Strategies
Economic Development Strategies
Marketing & Promotion Strategies
Local Government Strategies
Implementation Schedule
Vision Session Questionnare and Results
Stakeholder Interviews and Results
Intercept Survey Forms
Results- Summer Intercept Sur vey
Downtown Use Map
Alpena Downtown Strategic Market Analysis Plan
The City of Alpena Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and
the City of Alpena commissioned Beckett & Raeder, Inc. and its
sub-consultant, The Strategic Edge to develop an effective market
analysis/strategy for the Downtown District. The primary focus of
this analysis was the specific downtown district served by the DDA.
Additionally, it was requested that the market analysis also include
the impact zones immediately adjacent to the downtown district.
The stated goal was the development of strategies that will serve
as a basis for enhancement of the existing retail, service and other
businesses and provide guidance and direction in the recruitment of
new opportunities.
The Strategic Plan Process included:
• Review of Existing Plans
• Visioning Workshops
• Stakeholder Interviews
• Building & Site Assessment
• Land Use Analysis
• Board Planning Session
• Preliminary Strategic Plan
• Implementation Strategy and Final Strategic Plan
• Final Report and Public Presentation
The Market Analysis Process included:
Intercept Surveys
Definition of Trade Area and Characteristics
Telephone Interviews
Downtown and Competition Analysis
Market Analysis and Tenant Mix Recommendations
Report and Presentation
The Plan includes recommendations for short-term and long-term
actions steps for implementation detailing potential costs,
financing/revenue sources, identifying and prioritizing primary tasks
and/or projects to accomplish, and a timeline for these
recommendations. These recommendations will also be utilized to
update the DDA Development and TIF Plans, which will be
presented to the City Council for adoption.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Previous Planning Studies
Review of the following community plans as related to the
downtown area, including the DDA District, Central Business
District Zones, North Second Corridor, and Chisholm Avenue
PLAN (1991)
amended up to 2002)
DDA DEVELOPMENT PLAN, July 1981, as amended November 1986
The Development Goals of the development plan are to create
programs to revitalize the CBD through following objectives:
• Increase pedestrian orientation;
• Improve auto accessibility and circulation;
• Highlight Thunder Bay River within downtown;
• Stimulate private investment in the downtown, such as
through physical infrastructure improvements.
The purpose of the waterfront linkage plan was
to develop specific design solutions and economic
development strategies that will remove barriers
separating downtown from the waterfront
The purpose of the waterfront linkage plan was to develop specific
design solutions and economic development strategies that will
remove barriers separating downtown from the waterfront, and
that will link downtown with the waterfront. Included is a market
analysis to determine appropriate retail mix and business
recruitment strategies.
The Study Area included the CBD, Old Town, and downtown
DEVELOPMENT TRENDS. Changes in local economy, from an
industrial base to a service orientation, has diminished
industrial development along the shoreline and replaced it with
a new emphasis on office/commercial land use, tourism,
boating, and fishing. Overall contraction in job market is
compounded by competition from commercial expansion in
nearby communities, combining to threaten the central
business district.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Previous Planning Studies
PHYSICAL BARRIERS. Views of lake blocked by buildings,
storage facilities, parking lots and other physical features that
separate the visitor from the lake. Also, the City’s flat terrain
does not allow an elevated view of the waterfront, giving the
visitor a false impression that the bay and river are further
STREETSCAPE. Existing streetscape, implemented 12 years ago
(e.g., pavers, pedestrian lights, trees), provides a pleasant
continuity throughout downtown. However, problem areas
• Incomplete application of trees and pedestrian lighting
along Water, Park, State and Harbor Streets.
• Chisholm streetscape just stops prior to First Street
without connecting to Harbor or State.
• State Street should be enhanced as an entry corridor to
LAND USE. A variety of land uses reinforce the separation of
downtown from the waterfront: sewage treatment plant,
Alpena Oil facility, Harborside Mall, and other commercial
facilities and parking lots. Between the river, Prentis, First and
Harbor Streets is a five-block area with little commercial and
pedestrian activity that acts as a dead “transition zone”
between downtown’s vibrant core along Second Street and the
waterfront. In this transition zone, there is a high proportion of
public and quasi-public land use. Nearly half of all land within
the immediate study area is under public ownership, including
the Federal complex, the sewage plant, City Hall and the
marina. As such, this area cannot generate commercial activity
and should be bridged to bring downtown to the harbor and
part of the harbor into downtown.
• Poor traffic patterns at intersection of State Street (US23) and Chisholm force northbound traffic to turn left (at
a deadend that exposes the mall parking lot) and away
from the waterfront and downtown.
• Average daily traffic volume on Chisholm is 9,500
vehicles and 4,900 on Second Street.
Existing Streetscape
Harborside Mall
Chisholm and Second Street
URBAN LANDMARKS include city’s marina and new band shell
in Bayview Park. However, landmarks are lacking on
waterfront and in downtown.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Previous Planning Studies
CITY COMPREHENSIVE PLAN, November 1998 (excerpts
related to DDA District)
The City Comprehensive Plan Includes the following Goals
& Objectives Relating to the downtown
Plan for and encourage commercial, retail & service uses sufficient
to meet the shopping needs of City residents and to support a
healthy downtown.
1. Promote quality commercial/retail development within the City.
• Separate car & truck routes.
• Provide convenient parking to promote access to
businesses downtown.
• Develop architectural themes/styles appropriate for
Alpena and consistent with historic character.
• Develop River Street Park.
• Consider a traffic study to examine feasibility of
converting select one-way streets to two-way traffic.
• Upgrade street lighting to more historic design.
• Improve downtown banner program.
• Add new trash receptacles to downtown.
• Redesign City sewage treatment plant for consistency
with waterfront property.
• Develop Riverfront property behind Alpena Furniture.
• Purchase properties for possible development and/or
• Promote vitality by emphasizing downtown as
entertainment/cultural center, i.e., restaurants, theater,
library, museums, etc.
• Develop aggressive PR campaign emphasizing
“uniqueness” of Alpena, i.e., downtown, historic
character, waterfront.
• Study feasibility of relocating sewage treatment plant or
investigate exterior improvement alternatives.
• Add infill development that revitalizes existing
commercial businesses.
• Attract a downtown anchor, i.e., hotel that forms a
basis upon which downtown housing can expand.
The Comprehensive Plan encourages commercial, retail and service uses to meet the
shopping needs of City residents and to
support a healthy downtown.
2. Create a vibrant interaction of business and uses in the CBD.
• Promote the development New Parking Plan
• Promote a program for improved signage downtown.
• Complete pedestrian linkage between Chisholm Street
Park & River Street Park.
• Continue to add bike racks/planters to downtown
pedestrian areas.
• Add outdoor speakers throughout downtown.
• Complete Harbor Link project, including a boardwalk
from marina to 2nd Ave. bridge and signage at entrance
to downtown.
• Investigate a parking structure downtown.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Previous Planning Studies
3. Business retention and attraction of new businesses.
• Create public/private partnership in an effort to “reduce
• Recognize that existing business is vital to the economic
well-being of the City.
• Coordinate revitalization efforts with the City, Chamber
of Commerce, and local business persons to help
remove real and perceived government barriers.
• Consider tax incentives for building renovation.
• Develop business retention program. Address business
owners’ concerns.
• Expand marketing area of the CBD.
The plan also encourages utilizing the water
to improve downtown.
4. Utilize assets of the waterfront to improve downtown.
• Provide improved links, and remove barriers, between
downtown & waterfront for pedestrian access.
• Increase tourism opportunities related to waterfront, i.e.,
annual festivals, art fair, etc.
• Open Thunder Bay River to pedestrian traffic, i.e., river
• Recognize that downtown waterfront offers unrealized
potential for restaurants, retail and residential
development. The waterfront, as well as downtown’s
historic character, can make this area desirable for
residential and entertainment opportunities.
• Add vibrant, interaction/mix of uses.
Future Land Use Plan
Recomendations for the downtown provide for commercial development that is pedestrian oriented and offers a mix of uses within a
central core. It provides for comparison, convenience, cultural and
service needs of the City. A strong orientation and connection to the
waterfront is encouraged as well as centralized parking. Auto
related uses that tend to detract from retail frontage and hinder
pedestrian circulation is discouraged.
Neighborhood Planning Areas
Chisholm is downtown Alpena and remains the primary commercial
district within the City. It should be considered for further study as a
corridor overlay designation, or overlay zone, to enhance the
business environment and to promote upgrading and improvement
along Chisholm, from First Street to the river, to Fourteenth Street.
Other goals include: consolidate vehicular access; enhance landscaping; unify signage and lighting; shared parking with knee walls
and landscaping; and promotional efforts including identity signage
or banners. New land uses and public capital improvements in
proximity to these sites should respect and be compatible with
historic sites, structures, and the established historic character. The
study area includes part of the CBD core (between Third, State,
Lockwood and the river), as well as properties along Washington
Street corridor (M-32).
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Previous Planning Studies
CITY ZONING ORDINANCE, July 1986 as amended up to
February 2002
The study area is comprised of, and regulated by, ten different
zoning districts. Regulations for each zone are summarized, here.
Refer to the City Zoning Map for boundaries.
CBD-1, Central Business
INTENT: To service comparison, convenience and service needs of
the entire City and large portion of surrounding area. To provide for
a variety of retail and office buildings and related activities. “The
retail stability of the district is promoted by encouraging the development of a continuous retail and service frontage and by prohibiting automotive related services and non-retail uses.”
PERMITTED USES: All retail, office and service uses without drivethroughs, except banks with drive-throughs that are incidental;
contractor showrooms and offices, where 25% maximum is for
processing products and where ground floor visible from street is
only used for entry, office or display; private schools, newspaper
offices & print plants; funeral homes; marinas; hotels & motels; bus
stations; private clubs; churches; theaters; roller rinks.
SPECIAL USES: Public utility and service buildings; rooming houses;
amusement arcades; homeless shelters; outdoor café services;
dwellings above stores and offices
PROHIBITED USES: Auto related services; drive-throughs (except
banks); outdoor storage; ground floor dwellings.
OFF-STREET PARKING: Because of supplied public parking, off-street
parking is not required in the CBD-1 zone, except for upper floor
dwellings (where provided parking is located within 200 feet).
The study area is comprised of,
and regulated by, ten different
zoning districts.
CBD-2, Central Business
INTENT: To accommodate limited office and retail uses that serve
the region and are located along major thoroughfares originally
platted and used for residences, but are in transition to commercial
and office uses. Small lot size and proximity to low-density
residential areas restrict the range of commercial uses, which are
limited to activities within buildings having negligible impacts on
adjoining residential areas. Auto-related services and generally
prohibited. Uses are similar to those in CBD-1, but are more
decentralized and auto-dependent.
PERMITTED USES: Those in CBD-1, plus warehouse/storage
facilities when incident to the principal use permitted.
SPECIAL USES: Same as CBD-1, less rooming houses, amusement
arcades, and upper floor dwellings.
PROHIBITED USES: Automotive related services; drive-throughs
(except banks); outdoor storage; ground floor dwellings; upper floor
dwellings; rooming houses; amusement arcades.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Previous Planning Studies
B-1, Local Business
INTENT: To meet daily convenience shopping and service needs of
residents in adjacent areas.
PERMITTED USES: Retail; professional/medical services; personal
services; dry cleaners; human care facilities; restaurants without
drive-throughs and without outside service; educational and
religious facilities.
SPECIAL USES: Publicly owned buildings; public utility buildings;
outdoor cafes
B-2, General Business
INTENT: Diversified business types requiring city-wide general
market and/or arterial exposure, and generally located along major
PERMITTED USES: All uses in OS-1, B-1, and CBD, except
dwellings above stores and offices; auto showrooms; bus stations;
governmental offices; self-serve laundry; bowling alleys, pool hall,
indoor tennis and other indoor recreation.
SPECIAL USES: automatic & self-serve car washes; motels; outdoor
auto & RV sales; auto service related businesses (except auto body
repair, painting, refinishing, tire capping, auto dismantling, etc.).;
plant nursery for retail sale; sale of lawn furniture, playground
equipment, garden supplies and landscaping materials; vet clincs
or hospitals; outdoor recreation when part of a planned
development; drive-in businesses; homeless shelters.
ACCESSORY USES: Outdoor sales area; seasonal uses; outdoor
display areas for large retail uses (over 10,000 SF); drive-up service
as accessory to principle uses.
OS-1, Office Service
INTENT: To accommodate offices and personal services which can
serve as transitional areas between residential and commercial
districts, and to transition between major thoroughfares and
residential districts.
PERMITTED USES: general offices; medical offices & clinics;
medical care facilities; banks (including accessory drive-thru);
personal services; churches, schools, colleges, museums; accessory
uses such as pharmacy, apothecary, corrective garment store,
SPECIAL USES: Mortuary; public utility buildings; motel and hotel;
general hospital; nursery schools, child care and group day care
homes; family day care ; homeless shelters; accessory apartments
and dormitories related to churches, schools, hospitals and other
medical care.
P-1, Vehicular Parking
INTENT: Establish areas solely for off-street parking as incidental to
principal uses. Provided upon petition or request to serve area
without adequate off-street parking.
PERMITTED USES: Off-street vehicular parking only.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Previous Planning Studies
R-2, One-Family Residential
INTENT: Restrictive residential district to provide predominantly lowdensity, one-family detached dwellings.
PERMITTED USES: One-family detached dwellings; public parks;
SPECIAL USES: Church; schools; utility & public service buildings;
child care and group day care homes; family day care homes;
private noncommercial recreation; golf courses; bed & breakfasts;
incidental parking lots to churches and schools.
RT, Two-Family Residential
INTENT: To afford transition of use in existing housing areas by
permitting new construction or conversion of existing structures
between residential and commercial, office, thoroughfare or other
uses affecting residential character. This district recognizes existing
older residential areas with larger residences, and allowing owners
to extend the economic life of these structures and to justify
modernization repairs. Allows new construction of two-family
residences where slightly greater densities are permitted.
PERMITTED USES: Uses permitted in R-2; two-family dwellings that
are site built.
SPECIAL USES: Special uses in R-2.
RM-2, Multi-Family Residential
INTENT: Provide sites for multi-family dwelling structures and
related uses, serving transition zones between nonresidential
districts and lower-density single-family districts.
PERMITTED USES: All permitted uses in RT district; multi-family
SPECIAL USES: All special uses in RT district; elderly housing;
convalescent homes, nursing homes and orphanages; boarding
rooms as accessory use; family and human care; bed & breakfast;
I-3, Heavy Industrial
INTENT: Designed for manufacturing, assembling and fabrication
activities including large scale or specialized industrial operations,
whose external affects will be felt to some degree by surrounding
PERMITTED USES: Uses in I-1 and I- zones; heating & electric
power generating plants; junk yards; garbage incineration; blast
furnace or rolling mill; manufacture of corrosive acid, cement, lime,
gypsum, petroleum liquids, wood products; smelting of copper, iron
or zinc ore.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Previous Planning Studies
Building Placement: Area, Height and Distance Requirements:
Zoning District
CBD-1, Central Business
CBD-2, Central Business
B-1, Local Business
B-2, General Business
OS-1, Office Service
I-3, Heavy Industry
R-2, One-Family Res.
RT, Two-Family Res.
RM-2, Multi-Family Res.
Min. Lot Size
Max. Height
Min. Yard Setback
Side total*
Sign types allowed: ground, wall, projecting, marquee, awning,
canopy and temporary signs.
Number of signs allowed: a projecting, awning, canopy or marquee
sign is not allowed on the same building where a different
permanent sign is located, other than wall signs less than 4 SF.
Ground signs: maximum 40 SF for lots with up to 100’ frontage,
and increases allowed up to 80 SF.
Wall sign: maximum 10% of front wall surface or 3 SF/each lineal
foot of building frontage, up to 100 SF; illumination allowed.
Projecting sign: maximum 32 SF; maximum 3’ extension beyond
property line; illumination allowed.
Marquee sign: max. 32 SF; illumination allowed.
Max. Lot
A maximum of 10% of front wall surface or 3
SF/each lineal foot of building frontage, up to
100 SF is allowed.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Previous Planning Studies
• Requirements do not differ amongst commercial zoning
districts, except in the CBD-1 zone, where off-street
parking is not required because of public parking supply.
• Not permitted in front yard nor in minimum side yard
setback, except in Schedule of Regulations footnote “j”,
where front yard parking is permitted.
• Two or more buildings or uses may collectively provide
the required off-street parking, in which case the
required number of spaces shall not be less than the
sum of the individual requirements.
• Where operating hours of buildings do not overlap, the
PC may permit dual use of parking facilities.
• Requirements are expressed in parking spaces per
“usable floor area”. Standard parking ratios are typically
expressed in parking spaces per thousand square feet of
gross floor area, or building footprint. In the ordinance,
usable floor area is not quantified or expressed as a
proportion of gross floor area. Therefore, for purposes,
here, of translating the ordinance’s “usable floor area”
ratios into standard gross floor area parking ratios, it is
assumed that “usable” is 80% of “gross” floor area,
and gross is 125% of usable floor area. For example, in
the first use listed below, “planned shopping center”,
the ordinance states the off-street parking requirement
to be 1 space per 100 square feet of usable floor area.
This translates into 10 spaces per 1000 SF of usable
floor area, or 8 spaces per 1000 SF of gross floor area
Planned shopping center, under 15,000 SF: 8.0 parking
spaces per 1000 GFA
Planned shopping center, 15,001-450,000 SF: 6.4
spaces/1000 GFA
Planned shopping center, over 450,000 SF: 5.3 spaces/
1000 GFA
Restaurant, drive-in 32.0 spaces/1000 GFA
Restaurant, sit-down 10.7 spaces/1000 GFA
Retail: furniture/appliance: 1.0 space/1000 GFA
Service: repair shop, contractor showroom, shoe repair:
1.0 space/1000 GFA
Retail, general 5.3 spaces/1000 GFA
Bank 4.0 spaces/1000 GFA
Office, professional, medical 3.2 spaces/1000 GFA
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Previous Planning Studies
Purpose of the study was to quantify alternatives of modifying the
route of Washington–Second–Third–Carter Streets from the existing
one-way operations.
Examination of existing circulation system and three circulation
1. Existing one-way system
2. Modified one-way system with parallel parking
3. Two-way system with one-way Carter Street
4. Two-way system with Carter Street removed
Analyses included: traffic operations (e.g., Syncro, Corsim, Highway
Capacity Software, Level of Service); curb parking; driver understanding; effect on downtown economics; safety; conversion cost.
Study Conclusions for Course of Action
Three key issues were identified to weigh and compare the three
1. Creating moderate congestion and a busy downtown
2. Providing increased access to businesses via on-street
3. Increasing window exposure to businesses via increased
route choices.
The purpose of the study was to quantify
alternatives of modifying the route of
Washington-Second-Third-Carter Streets from
the existing one-way operations.
The study’s conclusions were not definitive, as each of the three
alternatives had strengths and weakness and the study made clear
that community goals were not known to reach a definitive conclusion in this regard.
Becket & Raeder, Inc. Observations:
1. Traffic Volumes and Road Capacity. Peak traffic volumes are low.
All current peak period volumes can be accommodated, easily, on
one lane of traffic in each direction. Any blocks where there is
more than one lane in a given direction is wasted space, thereby
reducing vehicular access to businesses, promoting higher vehicular
speeds and reducing pedestrian comfort levels. Accordingly, the
study should have examined how best to utilize this excess space to
better achieve community goals.
2. Safety. Although “safety is considered the most important
aspect in analyzing the alternatives” (page 54), the scope of the
study only included a look at intersection conflict points, but did not
include an analysis of vehicular speeds, such as weighing speeds on
one-way street operations, which typically are higher than speeds
on two-way street operations. Nor was the study broad enough to
consider additional aspects for improving safety, such as a comprehensive look at traffic calming techniques and pedestrian movements.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Previous Planning Studies
3. Advantages of two-way system that were not mentioned:
• Access & circulation choices: greater access to
businesses (e.g., more directional choices, left turns,
• Trip length: fewer vehicular miles traveled, due to more
route choices.
• Safety: slower vehicular speeds benefit both drivers and
4. Pollution. One of the study’s assumptions, that “two-way
operations present more route choices than a one-way system…
[and] these choices allow vehicles to remain in the system longer,
which creates more overall emitted air pollutants” is highly suspect:
The opposite is likely true, that one-way operations in a downtown
environment result in drivers often being where they do not want to
be, and that more route choices allow drivers to more directly reach
their various downtown destinations on shorter paths and in quicker
Two-way traffic with on-street parking
5. Omitted Circulation Alternatives. The study contained no
analysis of street widths for circulations alternatives for two-way
traffic with two lanes of parallel parking, even though the study
“identified three factors that are key issues in the discussion of
alternatives”, one of which is “providing for on-street parking”
(p.5). For example, a local street with a width of 36 feet (from
curb-to-curb) could accommodate two ten-foot traffic lanes and two
eight-foot parallel parking lanes, which would slow traffic, improve
safety for all users, and still operate within an acceptable level of
service because of the low volumes. The study did not mention
why additional circulation alternative were not examined.
6. In summary, not enough circulation alternatives were examined
for downtown Alpena, particularly within the contexts of the stated
goals of safety, creating moderate congestion, providing on-street
parking, and increasing window exposure for businesses.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Previous Planning Studies
DDA Development & Tax Increment Financing Plan, 1981
Development goals are to create programs to revitalize the CBD
through objectives of: increasing pedestrian orientation; improving
auto accessibility and circulation; highlighting Thunder Bay River
within downtown; and stimulating private investment in the downtown, such as through physical infrastructure improvements. To
date, however, most improvement projects have been cosmetic in
nature, and lack the type of desired redevelopment efforts evident
in recent visioning workshops, such as: major land use changes
along the waterfront; creation of a CBD environment oriented for
retail/restaurant uses and pedestrian shoppers; redevelopment of
vacant sites; increased development opportunities for higher density
residential uses; and road reconfigurations along major streets to
slow vehicular speeds, accommodate two-way traffic and add onstreet parking. The DDA Development and TIF Plans are in need of
being updated to reflect current goals in the downtown area
The DDA Development and TIF
Plans are in need of being updated
to reflect current goals in the
downtown area.
City Downtown Waterfront Linkage Plan, 1991
Goals are to develop design solutions and economic development
strategies that will remove barriers and link downtown with the
waterfront. Linkage policies were proposed for Chisholm Street;
Marina and the foot of Chisholm; Chisholm/Park Alley; and the
Riverwalk in Old Town. The analysis identified a variety of land use
issues that presented significant barriers between downtown and
the waterfront, particularly waterfront industries, parking lots, and
a five-block dead transition zone (between the river, Prentis, First
and Harbor Streets) mostly in public ownership.
City Comprehensive Plan, 1998
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES stress improving the downtown for a more
healthy shopping environment, including: consider a traffic study to
examine the feasibility of converting select one-way streets into
two-way traffic; study the feasibility of relocating the sewage
treatment plant or investigate exterior improvement alternatives;
purchase key properties for redevelopment; add in-fill development
that helps commercial businesses; and develop a new parking plan.
Some elements of the Comprehensive Plan have not been carried
forward into the zoning ordinance, e.g., the emphasis on a healthy
downtown shopping environment is not reflected in a number of
zoning requirements, such as development density, building placement, shared access, storefront design standard, etc.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Previous Planning Studies
for a pedestrian-orientation; mixed uses; strong orientation and
connection to waterfront; and discouraging auto related uses.
NEIGHBORHOOD PLANNING AREAS. The City land use plan is
broken into two different levels: the first is city-wide and the second
is based upon the neighborhood area plan.
Central Neighborhood
• Boundary: north of Washington Ave. (M-32) and
bounded by the river on the north, west and east;
• Includes single-family residential area and significant
commercial property: downtown corridor, Chisholm
Street (U.S. 23), the City’s heart of commercial and
retail activity, and scattered industry (especially south of
Eleventh Street);
• Goals include: rehabilitate historic structures; consider
establishing a historic district; promote riverfront access
and bike path greenway; improve appearance of
Chisholm Street Corridor.
The Future Land Use Plan for the
Central Business District calls for
pedestrian-orientation; mixed uses;
strong orientation and connection
to the waterfront, and the discouragement of auto-related uses.
Chisholm Street Corridor Overlay District
• To enhance the business environment;
• To promote upgrading and improvement along Chisholm
(from First-river-14th);
• To consolidate vehicular access and provide shared
parking with knee walls and landscaping;
• To enhance landscaping, unify signage and lighting, and
promotional efforts (banners, identity signage).
Historic Structure Study Area
• Area: part of CBD core (between Third, State,
Lockwood, river) and properties along Washington St.
corridor (M-32);
• Goal: to assure compatibility between historic structures
and new land uses and public capital improvements.
City Zoning Ordinance, 1986, as amended up to 2002
The study area contains ten different zoning classifications: six
commercial zones, three residential zones, and one industrial zone.
In such cases, where too many zoning districts can obscure and
frustrate one development objective, many communities have
adopted overlay zoning districts. Such an overlay zone is recommended in the Comprehensive Plan for the Chisholm Street Corridor. Overlay zone(s) should be considered for the entire study area.
Some goals and objectives, perhaps inadvertently, have not been
carried forward into the zoning ordinance, such as a consistent
development standard (e.g., front yard parking is prohibited in
Section 2105 (1), yet allowed in the Schedule of Regulations, Sec.
1900 (j)), and higher density requirements in order to develop a
more compact downtown for an improved shopping environment.
For example, building placement, shared access, and storefront
design standards affect the degrees of customer convenience,
customer sharing amongst stores, retail sales, property value,
property maintenance, and tax revenue.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Previous Planning Studies
Downtown Traffic Circulation Alternatives (1999)
Not enough circulation alternatives were examined for downtown
Alpena, particularly for stated community priorities of safety,
pedestrian movement, pedestrian linkages, creating moderate
congestion, providing on-street parking, and increasing window
exposure for businesses. The low traffic volumes in downtown
Alpena should invite consideration of additional circulation alternatives, perhaps one that can satisfy all, or most, of the above stated
community goals. The study did not mention why additional
circulation alternatives were not examined. In any case, the study’s
conclusions were not definitive, as each of the three examined
alternatives had strengths and weaknesses, and the study makes
clear that community priorities were not known to reach a definitive
conclusion in this regard.
Traffic and parking issues greatly impact
downtown development dynamics.
DDA Proposed Capital Improvement Projects, 2002-2008
Traffic and parking issues studies are recommended in the Comprehensive Plan, as well as the visioning workshops. Typically, traffic
and parking issues greatly impact downtown development dynamics. Conducting these studies should be considered. As a result of
the studies, current projects should be considered for adjustment
and appropriate new projects should be added to the capital
improvement plan.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Existing Conditions
Assessing Physical Conditions of the District
A visual assessment of the conditions in the downtown was conducted to highlight physical issues and opportunities. The most
significant issue noted, as a result of this assessment, is a lack of
consistency within the downtown. Many positive examples of
buildings, façades, streets, signs and parking exist in the downtown;
however, examples of elements that detract from the overall
character and function of the downtown also exist. These are
identified in this analysis of the following elements:
Compatible Architecture:
f Buildings
f Signs
f Parking
f Streets
f Waterfront Usage
The Center Building
In all of the areas discussed above, The Downtown
Development Authority can encourage greater consistency
through targeted public improvement measures, as well as with
strong guidelines for private development. Specific
recommendations are discussed in further detail later in the
Architectural Character
Many buildings in the DDA district are historic in character.
Although they vary in terms of style, these buildings share
common characteristics such as architectural details, a strong
street presence, and are constructed of brick, stone or other
traditional, durable materials. As a result, they are compatible,
and add to an overall image for the downtown. This image
differs greatly from other areas in the city where commercial
buildings are single-story with suburban-style architecture. In
this sense, the character of the downtown is unique and
distinguishable within the city.
This sense of character in the buildings, however, begins to
deteriorate as you move further away from the center and into
the edges of the district. Many of the buildings here are newer
and of a different character. The Harborside Mall, for example,
reflects the trend toward cheaper but less durable materials.
Others buildings have been covered over with incompatible
materials such as metal or vinyl siding, or have been painted
colors that are either too bright or too drab. In order to create a
more consistent image to the downtown, the DDA can
encourage stronger development guidelines for new construction
and building rehabilitation.
Lasting Expressions Building
Not Compatible Architecture:
Harborside Mall
Vacant Commercial Building
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Existing Conditions
Building Set Backs
The distance a building is set back from the street can
determine a sense of overall cohesion. Most buildings in the
downtown, especially older ones have no set-back from the
right-of-way, creating a strong edge and an environment
conducive to strolling and window shopping. However, some
buildings in the downtown do not follow this pattern; instead,
they were placed far back from the right-of-way to allow
parking in front. Such practices break the sense of cohesion
and weaken the streetscape environment. By requiring
consistent set back distances, the DDA can encourage a
stronger cohesion and better environment downtown.
No Setback Creates a Strong Edge:
Rear Façades and Side Yards
People use or avoid places depending on the physical conditions.
This is just as true for the side and back of buildings as it is for
the front. Often customers access a building from a parking lot
located behind the building, therefore rear façades should
convey a welcoming image. One excellent example is the rear
entrance of “The Center Building” (a.), which provides
orientation signs, landscaping, awnings, and a pathway leading
to the entrance.
Large Setback weakens the edge:
At the other end of the spectrum, are buildings whose exterior
conveys an image of neglect or deterioration, such as in photo
b. below.
Common Building Set backs create a
strong edge and an environment more
conducive to window shopping. Long set
backs weaken the streetscape
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Existing Conditions
Business Signs
Business signs run the gamut downtown. Many different styles,
materials, colors, sizes and structures make for a lack of
consistency downtown. Some signs are historic in look,
incorporating wood or brick materials, others are vintage
Americana with neon, like the Cadillac sign on the right. Still
others conform to a corporate image that would be the same if
the building was located in downtown or out in the suburbs.
Encouraging unique styles and variety lends for a more lively
downtown, however guidelines on size and material can help
lessen the visual clutter of business signs.
Regulatory and Directional Signs
Currently, separate signs direct visitors to parking, to the library,
to parks, and to other areas of interest in the downtown. These
could be consolidated into a coordinated sign system such as in
the example below. A sign system with a unique design or logo
could provide an instantly recognizable indicator of the DDA
District. This system could include the regulatory, directional,
and business directory signage
Business signs run the gamut downtown:
from painted sidewalls, to freestanding
signs of all color, material, and size.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Existing Conditions
Parking Lots
Depending on their location and design, off -street parking lots
can either blend into a downtown setting or highly detract from
the overall visual quality and lively atmosphere. Downtown
Alpena has both examples.
The First Federal Bank on Chisholm and First Street represents a
positive example of a parking lot “fitting” into a downtown
setting. This lot incorporates a low, screening wall along the
edge adjacent to a pedestrian plaza, and also uses landscaping
to define space. In contrast, the Harborside Mall Parking Lot is
located in the center of the lot between the two shopping
buildings, and lacks trees or other landscape material to define
the space, creating the visual effect of a “sea of automobiles”.
This parking lot is one of the first images of downtown that
visitors see when entering the district from South U.S. 23.
On-Street Parking
On-street parking not only provides convenience for potential
customers, it allows for a more pedestrian environment by
creating a buffer between the sidewalk and moving traffic. Onstreet parking is essential to a lively, active downtown.
Chisholm, Second, Washington and Third Street all provide
some on-street parallel parking. However, often it is
intermittent or provided on one side of the street only.
Downtown streets should be designed to maximize the on-street
parking opportunities to the extent possible.
The “sea of parking” at Harborside Mall is
one of the first images visitors are
confronted with when entering the district
from South U.S. 23.
The First Federal Bank Parking lot is
designed to “fit” into the downtown.
Street Configuration
The one way streets within the district are confusing, making it
difficult for downtown visitors to maneuver through the district
and find their destination. At the same time, for those who
know the streets, the one-way configuration allows motorists to
speed through the downtown or avoid it completely. Neither
situation is conducive to a successful commercial environment.
The one way system should be reevaluated.
Furthermore, some intersections pose problems for vehicles and
pedestrians alike. Streets that meet at odd angles make
pedestrian crossing difficult and dangerous, and create
confusion for drivers. The lack of cross-walks further adds to
this problem. Some particularly problematic intersections are as
• Chisholm, First and Washington
• Washington and Second
• Washington and Third
• Chisholm and State
The intersection of Washington and 2nd
Ave. is confusing and unsafe for
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Existing Conditions
Street Character
Street character is determined by the combination of elements
such as street lights, trees, banners, sidewalk paving and other
pedestrian amenities in the public right-of-way. These elements
are not consistent throughout the district. Some streets, such as
Washington, have few streetscape elements. Others, such as
North Second have a distinct character different from the rest of
the downtown. Chisholm Street’s character changes from one
style near the waterfront to another in the “heart” of the
downtown. Although different elements can give a street or
district its own unique character, more consistency throughout
will lend better definition and greater recognition to the
downtown as a whole.
Waterfront Use
Alpena is fortunate to be situated along two important water
bodies: Thunder Bay and the Thunder Bay River. Unfortunately
much of the waterfront land is occupied by former and existing
industrial uses. The waste water treatment plant, industrial
brownfield sites and active industrial uses present impediments
to fully realizing the waterfront opportunities. However, as
Alpena makes the gradual transition away from heavy industry
to a service and tourist-based economy, more waterfront
property will become available. The DDA can take measures to
ensure the type of waterfront envisioned by community
members: one which provides for public access, not just private
uses; and one that realizes a greater visual and physical
connection with the downtown. By developing public plazas,
boardwalks, lookout points, and by encouraging restaurants and
other appropriate retail uses along the water, the downtown can
become a destination.
Street character is not consistent
throughout the district.
Currently, the waterfront is not visually or
physically connected to the downtown.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Market Assessment
The overall objective of the study was to develop an effective
market analysis and strategy for the DDA District and the adjacent
Impact Zones. Specifically, the objectives of the retail market
analysis component are as follows:
• Gather information regarding shopping habits,
perceptions, etc. of current Downtown Alpena patrons.
• Define the trade area for Downtown Alpena in a
scientific manner.
• Gather information on trade area residents’ shopping
habits and preferences.
• Assess Downtown Alpena’s retail competition.
• Identify retail opportunities.
• Recommend overall strategy and tenant mix, as
supported by sales potential.
The Strategic Edge based its marketing evaluation on businesses
that are located within the Downtown Development Authority
District of Alpena, Michigan. For purposes of comparison, The
Strategic Edge developed selected measures for the West Chisholm
Street Corridor and the North Second Avenue Corridor.
Retail Business Mix
We have classified Downtown Alpena retail establishments within
the following categories:
• Shopping Goods
• Food/Liquor/Services/Restaurants
• Food/Grocery/Convenience
• Drug & HBA (Health and Beauty Aids)
• Personal Services
• Entertainment
• Other (Motor Vehicle Parts, Gasoline Stations, Building
Materials & Supplies Dealers, etc.)
A standard classification system was used to categorize establishments in Downtown Alpena. The system was developed using the
North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) with few
exceptions. This classification system is used by the U.S. Census of
Retail Trade to categorize retail and service establishments.
The two most frequently found retail categories in the Alpena
Downtown Development Authority District are Shopping Goods and
Personal Services representing nearly 46% and 21% respectively of
the total retail outlets.
Market Assessment Methodology
Intercept Surveys
An intercept survey was prepared and used to
collect information from patrons within
Downtown Alpena.
Defined Trade Areas
The intercept survey method of trade area
creation is superior to ring (radius) or drive time
trade area estimation. The results of the
survey provided a much more realistic estimation of geographic draw. All patron zip codes
were tabulated and mapped. A primary and a
secondary trade area were defined for the
Downtown. For each of the defined trade
areas, we determined current population and
demographic estimates. We also gathered
historic, estimated, and projected demographic
characteristics, such as income, occupation,
education, age, race, household size, housing
characteristics, etc.
Telephone Surveys
The purpose of the telephone survey component of the consumer research was to provide
reliable indicators of the trade area residents’
shopping habits and preferences. It was
important to develop a meaningful, non-biased
questionnaire to elicit results from which
actionable recommendations could be derived.
Similarly, it was important that the intercept
interviews precede the telephone interviews,
to ensure that interviewing was conducted in
the correct trade area.
District and Competition Analysis
The Strategic Edge reviewed the inventory of
Downtown Alpena for its “tenant mix”
including current retail, entertainment, and
service related businesses. This information
provided a foundation for analyzing market
positioning and competitive analysis.
Tenant Mix Reccomendations
The Strategic Edge has developed a proprietary analysis and database of other Downtowns in Michigan. We compared Downtown
Alpena’s “tenant mix” by detailed retail
category and broad classification to that of the
other Downtowns.
Tenant and Market Strategy
Based on the above analysis, The Strategic
Edge recommended the most appropriate
strategy and tenant mix for Downtown Alpena
to raise its patronage and sales productivity.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Market Assessment
Retail Business Mix
Retail Category
Shopping Goods
Drug & HBA
Personal Services
Other Retail
Number of Retail
West Chisholm
Street Corridor
North Second
Avenue Corridor
The distribution of square footage by retail category generally
follows a simple pattern to that of the number of establishments.
The most notable differences are in the West Chisholm Street
Corridor where shopping goods square footage is underrepresented
versus the number of shopping goods establishments while the
reverse is true for food/grocery/convenience and drug and HBA.
Retail Category
Shopping Goods
Drug & HBA
Personal Services
Other Retail
Estimated Square Feet
West Chisholm
Street Corridor
North Second
Avenue Corridor
Note: Accurate square footages not available for all establishments.
Sources: Beckett & Raeder, The Strategic Edge.
Trade Area Definition
A trade area was created using the zip codes gathered from the
intercept surveys. The total number of interviews from each zip
code was used in conjunction with the estimated 2001 total population of each zip code to create an index (Index = (Number of
Patrons per Zip Code/2001 Population)*10,000)). This index reveals
the per capita penetration of Downtown Alpena in each zip code.
Penetration levels are depicted on the trade area map with shadings
from low to high. The zip codes with the highest levels of penetration were chosen until the 70% to 85% threshold (patrons of
Downtown Alpena) was attained. A primary trade area was also
defined which represents a more cohesive geographic trade area
based on penetration levels.
An 86% trade area was defined for Downtown Alpena and
• North into Presque Isle and Hawks
• East to the shore of Lake Huron
• South to Ossineke and Hubbard Lake
• West into Atlanta
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Market Assessment
Primary Trade Area Definition
The primary trade area (71% of Downtown Alpena patrons)
includes four zip codes:
49707 Alpena
49776 Posen
49743 Hawks
49747 Hubbard Lake
Secondary Trade Area Definition
The secondary trade area accounts for 15% of the patrons and
includes the geographic area between the primary and total trade
Population And Demographics
Based on our Population and Demographics Profiles, the 2001
population estimate for the Downtown Alpena total trade area is
43,300 with 67% of those (29,200 people) located in the primary
trade area. The city of Alpena is estimated at 11,300 people, 26%
of the total trade area. In comparison, there are about 9,997,300
people in the state of Michigan.
The total trade area is expected to grow 1.3% between 2001 and
2006, faster than the primary trade area (0.2%) but at a slower rate
than the state as a whole (2.4%).
2001 Population Profile
The 2001 median household income of the Downtown Alpena total
trade area is estimated to be $37,013, somewhat higher than the
incomes in the primary trade area ($35,781) but 15% lower than
the state of Michigan’s income level ($43,430).
In the total trade area 98.3% of the population is white, comparable to the primary trade area at 98.2% but higher than the state
at 79.9%.
Median age in the Downtown Alpena total trade area is somewhat
higher compared to the primary trade area (42.5 and 41.4, respectively). The state of Michigan is younger at 35.8.
According to the 2001 estimate, 47.4% of the people in the total
trade area are employed in white-collar occupations. This is lower
than both the primary trade area (49.6%) and the state of Michigan
Owner-occupied housing units in the Downtown Alpena total trade
area represent 82.0% of all occupied housing units. Within the
primary trade area there are 78.9% owner-occupied units compared
to 74.0% in Michigan.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Market Assessment
Trade Area Map
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Market Assessment
A useful tool in understanding a neighborhood is socioeconomic
segmentation. Often, this segmentation is referred to lifestyles.
The Strategic Edge employed this analytical tool for the primary
trade area using ACORN segmentation. The analysis based on 2001
households in the primary trade area revealed that most prevalent
households were:
Heartland Communities 29.3%
Middle America 18.1%
Rustbelt Neighborhoods 12.5%
Rural Resort Dwellers
In the secondary trade area, the most prevalent households were:
Rural Resort Dwellers
Middle America 15.8%
Rural Industrial Workers 9.3%
The ‘Rural Resort Dwellers’ and
‘Heartland Communities’ segments had the highest indices of
any segment in the primary
trade area.
The “Rural Resort Dwellers” and “Heartland Communities” segments had the highest indices of any segment in the primary trade
area, and “Rural Resort Dwellers” in the secondary trade area. The
index is a comparison of the percent of households in the area, by
ACORN segment, to the percent of households in the United States,
by ACORN segment. The following tables show the data for each
segment. Please refer to the Appendix for a definition of each
ACORN segment including their demographics, socioeconomics,
residential characteristics and their spending and activity preferences.
Expenditure Potential
The Strategic Edge estimated the trade area expenditure potential
for a vast array of retail categories. This involved analyzing the
1997 Census of Retail Trade and other US Censuses to develop
1997 per capita expenditures for various geographies: Alpena
County, State of Michigan and the City of Alpena. Adjustments
were made where necessary for the unique demographic characteristics of the trade area. The per capita and total trade area expenditure potential were developed for 2002, 2007, and 2012, using
various inflation and population growth assumptions. These per
capita and total expenditure potential data are for the total trade
area and are presented on the following table.
The total expenditure potential dollars for the total trade area
represents the pool of dollars spending potential generated by
residents of the Alpena trade area. For example, for NAICS code
445 – Food & Beverage Stores, there is an estimated $50,662,100
available to be spent by residents of the trade area in food and
beverage stores. If, for example, the food and beverage stores in
the Alpena DDA District were able to capture 20% of the spending
potential in the trade area, and generate 15% of their sales from
beyond the trade area, their sales would be nearly $12,000,000.
Unfortunately, actual sales data is not available from either the
private sector or the government sources. However, it does serve
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Market Assessment
to point out the substantial pool of dollars available to be captured
by aggressive, savvy retailers.
Projections by retail category for the years 2007 and 2012 are
shown on the following table for the total trade area. Between
2002 and 2012, total trade area expenditure potential is expected
to grow at a rate of 1.91% per year.
Retail Environment
The major competition for the Alpena DDA District comes from
Wal-Mart, Kmart and the Alpena Mall. Historically, the major
competitive retail node has been along US-23 South where Alpena
Mall, Kmart, and Thunder Bay Shopping Center are located. The
new major competitive retail node is M-32 West and Bagley Street
where the Wal-Mart Supercenter, Home Depot, Staples, and Ace
Hardware Home Center have located.
Stores/Businesses Patronized
Bolenz Jewelry
Library/Alpena County Library
Cathy’s Hallmark
Smart Value Variety
Alpena Furniture
Masters & LaLonde Shoes
Myers Fashions
Country Cupboard
John Henry’s Antique Mall
Michelle Louise Glass Studio & Gifts
John A. Lau Saloon
Michelle’s Pet World
In Other Woods
US Post Office
Old Owl Café
GKC Royal Knight Cinema
Olivet Book & Gift
J & J Enterprises
Alpena Civic Theater
Burger King
Artis Expresso
Big Boy Restaurant
Country Cousins
Earth Dance
First Federal
GKC State Cinemas
Helen’s Antiques & Gifts
The Learning Ladder
The Lodge
Waterfront Salon
45 Parallel Mediation
Curves for Women
Kennedy’s Jewelry
McDonald’s Auto Supply
Old Town Café
Sherwin Williams
SophistiCuts Salon
Take 5 Deli
Tender Moments
Percent of Respondents*
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Market Assessment
Consumer Research Findings
The Strategic Edge analyzed, compared, and contrasted the
intercept survey results and those of the telephone survey. There
were ten questions asked in both the intercept and telephone
surveys that were the same or similar. This provides a comprehensive analysis of Downtown Alpena patrons and their shopping/
dining/entertainment patterns. It also allows for comparison of the
trade area demographics with those of the patrons.
Purpose of Trip
The intercept survey asked Downtown Alpena patrons what the one
main purpose of their trip was whereas the telephone survey
respondents were allowed to give multiple answers as to the typical
purpose of a visit to Downtown Alpena. In both surveys shopping is
the main reason for patronizing Downtown Alpena. Entertainment
and dining were common reasons for visiting Downtown Alpena
among people interviewed by phone but received no responses
from the intercept survey pool. The library was a popular destination among patrons in the intercept survey. A relatively high
percentage of people from both surveys indicated that they work in
the downtown area.
Stores/Businesses Patronized
The most frequently visited stores/businesses (those with two or
more responses in either the intercept or telephone surveys) are
listed below. Of the 47 businesses listed, nearly 20% are dining
establishments. Bolenz Jewelry, the library, and Cathy’s Hallmark
were popular destinations among the intercept survey respondents
but did not show strong results among those interviewed by telephone. Similarly, the Owl Café and Masters & LaLonde Shoes show
significantly higher responses in the telephone survey than in the
intercept survey.
Downtown Alpena “Likes”
Among respondents to both surveys, Downtown Alpena received
the highest rankings for overall atmosphere and “nice, pleasant,
quaint atmosphere”. In addition, the variety of stores, convenience,
and cleanliness were common responses among all interviewed.
Safety and parking were frequent replies in the intercept survey but
received very little response among those interviewed by telephone.
“Nothing in particular” received a high number of votes in the
telephone survey but none in the intercept survey.
Downtown Alpena “Dislikes”
The most disliked aspect of Downtown Alpena is parking from the
intercept survey and store variety from the telephone survey. A
considerable number of people from the intercept survey indicated
that they dislike the traffic, vacancies, and store hours in Downtown
Alpena. Parking, one-way streets, and “nothing in particular” were
cited as important dislikes among those interviewed by telephone.
Trip Purpose
Trip Purpose
Work There
General Browsing
Personal Services
Business Services
City Office Business
Walk/Hang Out
Live There
Percent of Respondents
Downtown Alpena “Likes”
Store Variety
Nothing in Particular
Nice, Pleasant, Quaint
Restaurant Variety
Bars/Entertainment Variety
Don’t Know
Being Outside
Percent of Respondents*
Downtown Alpena “Dislikes”
Store Hours
Store Variety
One-Way Streets
Dislike Nothing/Nothing in Particular
City Government
Need Youth Activities
Variety of Restaurants
Not Convenient Location
Variety of Bars/Entertainment
Being Outside/Weather/Elements
Don’t Know
Air Pollution
Percent of Respondents*
Alpena Downtown Strategic Market Analysis Plan
Market Assessment
Amount Spent
The amount of money spent by patrons in Downtown Alpena was
asked differently in the two surveys. For the intercept survey, the
median amount of $55.00 is per person across all business types. In
the telephone survey respondents were asked how much money
they spend (not per person) on a typical trip to Downtown Alpena
for four categories of businesses. Retail, including stores and
galleries, is where patrons spend the most money ($44.50).
Business Type
Bars & Other Entertainment (Movies)
Personal Services
All Business Types
Median Amount Spent
$ 8.70
$ 4.60
Suggested Additions to Downtown Alpena
Respondents to both the intercept and telephone surveys were
asked what stores, restaurants or services they would like to see
added to Downtown Alpena. Various restaurants and clothing/
department stores received the highest number of votes from both
survey pools. Red Lobster, Meijer, and Target were common
suggestions from telephone respondents. Note, however, that the
vast majority of those interviewed by telephone indicated no
additions are needed.
Desired Changes
In view of their dislikes regarding Downtown Alpena, it is not
surprising that patrons from both survey pools would like to see oneway streets changed/eliminated and parking improved in Downtown
Alpena. Intercept survey patrons were allowed multiple answers
whereas those surveyed by telephone were permitted only one
response. Additional retail was advocated by a significant number
of telephone respondents. Seeing vacancies filled was important to
the intercept survey pool. About 20% of those interviewed by
telephone indicated “nothing” when asked what one thing they
desired changed in Downtown Alpena.
Patrons from both survey pools would like to
see one-way streets changed/eliminated and
parking improved in Downtown Alpena.
The median age for intercept survey patrons of Downtown Alpena is
46.1 years, younger than those surveyed by telephone, 52.1. The
Population and Demographics Profile shows that the median age for
all residents (includes children) in the Downtown Alpena total trade
area is 42.5.
Household Income
The median household income of those who answered the question
for the intercept survey was $45,000. This compares to $38,571 for
the telephone survey. The Population and Demographics Profile
shows that the median household income for residents in the
Downtown Alpena total trade area is $37,013.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Market Assessment
Downtown Alpena Strategy
The Strategic Edge has analyzed the tenant mix in light of the
competitive framework, other Michigan downtowns, the consumer
research (intercept and telephone surveys) results, fieldwork,
interviews with key stakeholders, the visioning workshops, the trade
area and its population, demographic, “lifestyles”, and expenditure
potential characteristics. These analyses have resulted in an
understanding of the Alpena DDA District’s strengths and weakness,
and opportunities for improvement.
The Strategic Edge has developed a strategy to strengthen and
improve the Alpena DDA District. The strategy is built around five
• Increase customer traffic on the Alpena DDA District.
• Retain customer traffic in the Alpena DDA District
outside of the “9 to 5, Monday – Friday” business hours.
• Complement existing retailers.
• Reduce vacancies.
• Encourage synergy between the Alpena DDA District
and the adjacent corridors – West Chisholm and North
Second Avenue.
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, And Threats
The Strategic Edge has taken a strategic planning or traditional
competitive business analysis approach, in identifying Downtown
Alpena’s “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats”
(often abbreviated SWOT).
One-Way Streets
Better parking
Fill Vacancies
Traffic Enforcement
More People
Cheaper Prices
Bring in More Retail
Don’t Know
Longer Store Hours
More Upscale Stores
Bring in More Entertainment
Air Pollution
Change It Back to What It Was
Clean Up the Waterfront
Improve the Architecture
Percent of Respondents
*Sorted on the Intercept Survey.
Percentages are less than 100% due
to limited responses.
**Only one answered allowed.
• Some strong “anchor” tenants, i.e. Bolenz Jewelry,
Library, Save-A-Lot, Masters & LaLonde Shoes, etc., as
indicated by the stores/businesses patronized on both
the intercept and telephone surveys.
• Most of the competition is located within greater Alpena
rather than dispersed throughout the trade area.
• Majority of trade area population is near Downtown
• The quality of restaurants was perceived to be a
strength of Downtown Alpena.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Market Assessment
• Somewhat disjointed Downtown from a retail shopping
perspective, i.e. Harborside Shopping Center with its
own parking lot versus the rest of the retail
concentrations on or near Chisholm Street and North
Second Avenue.
• Big box retailers have chosen to locate at M-32 west
and Bagley Street which has led to a fragmentation of
the market.
• Daytime worker concentrations are scattered rather than
clustered in the heart of the Alpena DDA District. City
Hall, Library and Federal Building are on the east edge
of the Alpena DDA District, while the County buildings
are on the West Chisholm Street Corridor outside of the
DDA District.
• Only 4.5% of the respondents to the telephone survey
of trade area residents consider Downtown Alpena to be
their core or primary shopping area.
• Vacant buildings are scattered throughout the DDA
• Catalogue shopping, Fashion Square Mall, Gaylord,
Traverse City are all core shopping areas which indicate
that current Alpena shopping venues are not meeting all
shopping needs.
• Limited upscale retailers to serve segment of population
which desires better apparel and accesssories.
• Antiques, unique merchandise, gifts, etc., in Downtown
Alpena have created some destination appeal.
• With the relocation of Jepetto’s, there is an opportunity
for more quality restaurants in Downtown Alpena.
• In the primary trade area, nearly 50% are employed in
white collar occupations.
• Trade area population is projected to continue to grow.
• Waterfront is currently underutilized as a potential
• Potential for additional big boxes to locate at the M-32
West and Bagley Street vicinity.
• Downtown issues such as parking, store variety, oneway streets, traffic, vacancies, and store hours are not
addressed to the satisfaction of Downtown patrons and
trade area residents.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Market Assessment
Recommended Tenant Types
A significant opportunity in the Alpena DDA District appears to be
for specialty stores carrying women’s, children’s and men’s apparel.
The opportunities are in the moderate/better price points. These
types of retailers should complement the offerings of the apparel
stores now in the DDA District. Importantly, the merchandise lines
carried need to be differentiated from those found in stores such as
JC Penney, Wal-Mart Supercenter, etc. The intent is to attract more
shoppers from the secondary trade area communities and communities from beyond the trade area. The West Chisholm Corridor is
also underrepresented in this category.
The Strategic Edge believes there is an opportunity for a bookstore
with a coffee shop/café in Downtown Alpena which would complement Olivet and differentiate itself from Walden Books at Alpena
Mall. The model for this category is Horizon Books headquartered
in Traverse City. Horizon Books is an independent bookstore with
downtown locations in Traverse City, Cadillac and Petoskey, open
seven days a week, and typically has a coffee shop and/or a café.
A bookstore with a coffee shop/cafe in
Downtown would complement other uses and
differentiate itself from Waldenbooks.
Gifts/Unique Merchandise/Arts
Downtown Alpena has a number of stores in this category, particularly along Second Avenue. In our opinion, there are opportunities
for additional stores. Waterfront downtowns typically have a
significant number of these stores which cater to seasonal residents
and tourists as well as local residents. Turnover among these stores
is to be expected, perhaps 10% or more annually depending on the
Restaurants/Food and Liquor Services
Fine dining, quality sit-down restaurants represent an underserved
retail niche in Downtown Alpena. The relocation of Jepettos is also
a factor in this situation. Additional establishments would complement those already providing a fine dining experience and also
would compliment entertainment venues in Downtown Alpena.
The intent is to make Downtown Alpena a destination for dining.
Not only can these restaurant offerings keep people downtown after
“normal” business hours, they can attract people from the secondary trade area and from beyond the trade area. Consideration
should also be given to soliciting a brew pub for Downtown Alpena.
This could attract a younger demographic than would the fine
dining establishments. The West Chisholm Corridor has the fast
food/casual dining needs well covered with restaurants such as
McDonalds, Wendy’s and Big Boy. Another food service opportunity
is the coffee shop/bagels/bakery segment. The focus should be on
finding local or regional equivalents of national chains such as
Starbucks, Coffee Beanery, Einstein’s and Panera Bread.
Fine dining, quality sit-down restaurants
represent an underserved retail niche in
Downtown Alpena.
Although the Alpena DDA District itself is below average in terms of
representation in the Other Retail category, the West Chisholm
Street Corridor more than adequately compensates for this deficiency.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Market Assessment
Positioning And Clustering Stratgey
The primary opportunity for the Alpena DDA District is to position
itself to capture an increased share of secondary trade area residents’ spending (Ossineke, Hillman) and the spending potential of
communities outside the trade area (Rogers City, Harrisville). In
terms of retailing, this means offering these consumers merchandise
in an environment or providing them with an experience they can
not find locally or at Alpena Mall or at Wal-Mart Supercenter. Tying
in theaters and dining will also provide an experience unique to
Downtown Alpena. The marketing appeal should be directed at
consumers of moderate/better merchandise. Occupationally, this
could mean business owners, professionals, entrepreneurs and dualincome households. Lifestyle-wise this means “Urban Professional
Couples,” “Older, Settled Married Couples,” and “Wealthiest
Downtown Alpena should also continue to position itself to capitalize on periodic visitors to the market. These could be antique
collectors, consumers looking for unique merchandise and gifts,
tourists, and seasonal residents. Diverse attractions such as the
National Marine Sanctuary, the Antique Mall and unique shops, and
live theatre tempt these visitors to linger in Downtown Alpena.
Improving the retail selection, the
experience, fewer vacancies, competitive hours, and providing more
excitement should encourage
primary trade area residents to visit
Downtown Alpena more often and
stay longer.
Obviously, improving the retail selection, the experience, fewer
vacancies, competitive hours, and providing more excitement should
also encourage primary trade area residents to visit Downtown
Alpena more often and stay longer.
Clustering is also important for Downtown Alpena as it encourages
cross-shopping and creates destinations within the Downtown. A
prime example is the Old Town area which has its own restaurants,
shopping and entertainment identity and is also attractive to visitors.
Although admittedly difficult, the northward inching of Old Town
into the vacant buildings of the North Second Avenue Corridor could
be a long-term goal. Another cluster which has vitality is that of
antiques, gift, unique merchandise, artisans and crafts on North
Second Avenue north of Chisholm. Cross-shopping already takes
place among these establishments, and this cluster serves as a
destination for consumers residing outside the trade area. A
shopping goods cluster needs to be further strengthened by the
addition of new complementary retailers. This “L” shaped cluster in
the heart of Downtown is concentrated along Chisholm from Third
Street east to Second Avenue north to the river. As this cluster
becomes more vibrant, it can also extend its boundaries.
The West Chisholm Street Corridor should provide a smooth
transition into the core downtown area and its shopping goods
orientation. Its current focus as a restaurant/bar and other retail
cluster is appropriate. The government facilities along West
Chisholm serve to anchor the corridor. The challenge will be to
maintain its vitality in the face of competition from new retail nodes
such as M-32 West and Bagley Street.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Market Assessment
A potential long-term cluster could be near the waterfront. Currently underutilized as a focal point, the waterfront is an asset in
need of revitalization and offers opportunities for restaurants,
entertainment, and shopping, all related to the water.
Other Considerations
Among downtown patrons, the number one dislike of Downtown
Alpena was the parking situation. Parking in Downtown Alpena
was also a major dislike among trade area residents. Although
there are a number of free parking areas/lots in Downtown Alpena
(eastside of Third Avenue from Sable to Park Place, along the
Thunder Bay River and Water Street from River Street to First
Avenue, and west of Harbor Drive from Chisholm Street to Water
Street), they are not satisfying the expectaions of downtown patrons
or trade area residents. The issue of parking was also raised in the
Stakeholder Interviews and the Visioning Sessions. In view of the
perceptions of downtown patrons, trade area residents, key stakeholders and visioning session participants a focused parking study by
a parking consultant may be needed to surface acceptable solutions
to this issue.
Among downtown patrons, the number one
dislike of Downtown Alpena was the parking
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Public Involvement
Developing a Vision to Define the Future
Neighborhood Visioning Sessions
Visioning sessions, facilitated by Beckett & Raeder, Inc. were
sponsored by Alpena’s Downtown Development Authority. Two
sessions, one evening session, (October 28) and one morning
session (October 29) were held in order to attract as many
business owners and members of the public as possible.
Each session followed a similar format, incorporating a series of
small-group discussions and exercises to identify issues and elicit
ideas. Through a voting process, the sessions also guided
participants to prioritize these issues and ideas. Group leaders
were identified by the DDA, and participants were divided into
small groups with one group leader. Each small group chose a
scribe to list all comments. Participants “voted” on their
priorities by placing colored dots next to the most important
ideas that came out of particular discussions. Finally, a member
from each group presented the group’s findings to the entire
Many commonalities arose not only among the different tables,
but also between both sessions. Presented here is a summary,
organized around the small-group exercises, of the most often
cited ideas and issues from all of the visioning sessions
combined. Also, because each session fostered ideas unique to
its participants, a list of comments from each session follows the
Exercise 1: Understanding the Future
Residents said they feel proud of the restoration of older
buildings in the downtown and Old Town. Specific businesses,
such as the Country Cupboard and In Other Woods were
identified as places people feel proud of as well. Landscape
elements such as flowers, street trees and banners were also
identified as positive elements in the downtown. Many tables
identified the water resources including the riverfront and
lakefront in proximity to downtown as features they are proud
At the same time, however, participants pointed out the current
industrial and utility uses along the waterfronts as things they
are sorry to see. They identified specifically, the water
treatment plant, Alpena Oil, and the odors from the Alpena LP
plant as negatives. They also pointed out the that the riverfront
is currently underutilized, and saw this as a missed opportunity
in the downtown. Many also identified the lack of retail
businesses in the downtown as well as the presence of vacant
buildings as things they are sorry to see. One group also pointed
out the lack of connection between the Harborside Mall and
Marina with the downtown as something that needs to be
The “Visioning Process”
Exercise 1: Understanding the Present
While in small groups, participants were
asked to brainstorm the things they feel
most proud and most sorry about Alpena’s
Downtown. Afterward, each person was
asked to vote on the two most important
positive issues and the two most important
negative issues that were identified in their
Exercise 2: Events, Developments and
Participants were asked to think about
events, development and trends which they
are aware of, that infleunce the downtown.
This part of the workshop helped focus the
group on specific topics and gave the
session grounding in reality. Comments are
focused around broad topics that each
groups was asked to discuss.
Exercise 3: The Preferred Future
Participants were invited to take a trip via
hot air balloon over Springfield Township in
the year 2020. Each small group was asked
to describe the images they see that please
them the most. Once listed, each member
was asked to vote for his or her top three
preferred images.
Exercise 4: Realizing the Image
Each group brainstormed strategies to
move toward their “preferred futures”.
The discussion yielded ideas for funding
some of the changes, including finding
money from federal, state and local
sources, as well as from the private sector
and community fundraisers.
Participants felt at the same time proud about
Alpena’s waterfront, and sorry to see & smell
industry and utility uses in this prime location.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Public Involvement
Exercise 2: Events, Developments and Trends
Land Use and Economic Development
Discussion relative to land use and economic development yielded
the following main ideas: more residential uses in the downtown,
zone accordingly, vacancies exist and present an image problem;
and current uses along the waterfront do not make the best use of
that valuable land.
Most participants would like to see residential uses in the downtown. Specifically, many envisioned condominiums along the
riverfront, and second story apartments over retail uses downtown.
They would like to see city zoning allow for such uses. Participants
noted the benefits of a living downtown, namely that it is a safe,
friendly place in close proximity to shops. However, many recognized the need and current lack of services that would cater to
residents, such as a grocery store, dry cleaners and pharmacy.
Designated parking, they said, is another issue that would become
necessary to entice people to live downtown.
Following-up from exercise one when many noted vacant buildings
as something they are sorry to see in the downtown, participants
got more specific during this exercise. One table noted that vacant
buildings remain vacant for a long time. Other groups identified
specific locations that are vacant that could be redeveloped, such
as the Armory and the Alpena Oil Site.
Redeveloping these vacant sites as well as relocating unwanted
uses would create a better Waterfront according to most participants. Most are in favor of some condominium development along
the waterfront. Many envisioned a boardwalk along the Thunder
Bay River connecting businesses and cafes. Better linkages, both
visual and physical, are needed between the downtown and the
lake front, according to many.
Business Mix & Business Recruitment
Most agree that Alpena’s downtown needs a better business mix.
They would like to see a more vibrant downtown with more
nightlife. Many noted that business hours are inconsistent downtown which deters shoppers from staying into the evening. They
also see that the downtown is over saturated with service businesses such as lawyers, barber shops, etc., and want to see more
retail and entertainment. Clothing stores, candy shops, a bakery,
deli, and bookstores are among the types of new businesses
participants would like to see downtown.
Residents vote on their Preferred Future
options and summarize their table’s
findings at the conclusion of the Vision
Participants felt that the DDA needs to be more aggressive about
business recruitment, though they recognize that it is difficult to do
in this economic climate. Some suggested to sponsor start-up
businesses and encourage small businesses by providing lowinterest loans. Most would rather see independent businesses
because they feel that small business equals better service for
customers. They would like to see a limited amount of national
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Public Involvement
Appearance and Design
Although participants noted the character of some of the historic
buildings downtown and the positive image of Old Town, many
said that the overall impression of downtown is “stale” and has a
negative image. Buildings in disrepair or in need of façade
improvements are a concern. Some suggested financial incentives
for façade improvements. Participants identified the lack of design
standards in place means that development doesn’t look
consistent. Some would like to see historic district designation in
the downtown. Many noted the efforts at improved landscaping
and would like to see more landscaping as well as street art.
Image and Promotions
Many thought the National Marine Sanctuary, one of only 13 of
its kind in the world, could provide an important tie-in for
downtown. The former Armory Building, located in the DDA
District, was identified as an ideal location for a visitor center.
Participants recognized the need for the downtown to cater to
such visitors and also to visitors arriving from the Harbor. One
group pointed out that the first image seen by visitors entering
from the Harbor is the back of the Harborside Mall. This, they
said, definitely needs to change.
Many pointed out that Alpena already has many successful
events, but that the community needs to better promote these
and cater to participants coming to these events by having a
better nightlife atmosphere in the downtown.
Transportation & Infrastructure
Better directional signage is a “must”, especially directing people
to public parking, according to participants. “Visitors get confused
with all the one way streets”. This, along with many other comments, illustrated the view that the one-way street system represents a significant issue downtown. Deliveries to businesses in the
downtown were noted as a problem.
Participants felt that downtown was convenient to pedestrians and
bikes, but that there was “nothing to offer” them in downtown.
Some suggested expanding the bike path to residential areas and
providing better pedestrian connections between Old Town,
Downtown, and the Harbor. Other pedestrian services and amenities mentioned include public restrooms downtown, more sidewalk
vendors in summer and better snow removal in winter.
Small groups discussed and recorded
issues and ideas; voting on the most
important ones; and presented their
outcomes to the entire group.
Lastly, participants thought that public transit was adequate within
the city. However, some suggested a trolley to providing public
transportation during downtown events and festivals.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Public Involvement
Exercise 3: The Preferred Future
Participants spent 15 minutes envisioning the future of
downtown Alpena as they would like to see it ten years from
now. Although the descriptions of these scenarios varied, many
have common themes. The following list show the scenarios that
received the highest votes:
New development along the riverfront with a boardwalk
connecting places along the river.
Harborside Mall replaced by a major hotel and
destination spot.
Active nightlife downtown
Odors from industry eliminated
Industry replaced with condos, walkways, parks, office
and retail uses
New clean industry
Alpena Oil relocated with a new hotel in its place, with
boat slips
Marine Sanctuary and visitor center in Armory Building
Water treatment plant relocated
Wise land use planning and enforcement
New eateries /restaurants and boats up and down the
Exercise 4: Realizing the Image
Each group brainstormed strategies to move toward their
“preferred futures”. The discussion yielded interesting
strategies for further review and included:
Identify successful waterfront communities and visit
those for ideas to use in Alpena.
Encourage small business development in the downtown
with a business incubator .
Launch a cohesive marketing effort directed at local and
non-local developers.
Seek DNR grants to develop boardwalk along river.
Identify key components of what is a successful
nightlife; and encourage later store hours, more
entertainment and restaurants.
Encourage clean industry by getting broadband to bring
in high-tech.
To encourage downtown living, offer parking, develop
condos and zone for loft use over commercial.
Conduct feasibility study for hotel and conference
center; offer tax and employee incentives.
Mitigate Alpena Oil Site by relocating salt access,
removing structures not in use, relocating business
offices; seeking brownfield designation for
environmental clean up; work with corporation to put
land up for sale; offer tax incentive for new
Participants envisioned a boardwalk and
new restaurants along the river; they
envisioned new clean industry or condos
replacing heavy industry along the
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Public Involvement
The Preferred Future for Downtown Alpena
An overall review of the comments compiled from the visioning
sessions can be grouped into four Preferred Future Concepts
which can be carried forward through the planning process.
These concepts are as follows:
Wise Use of the Waterfront
A Place to Live, Work & Play
Consistency and Connectivity
Downtown as a Destination
The following information summarizes the Preferred Future
expressed at each of the Community Vision workshops.
October 28, 2002 Session
• “Harborside Mall replaced by major hotel/entertainment –
destination spot”
• “Active night life”
• “Alpena Oil relocated with new hotel with boat slips and
removal of Armory”
• “Four condos several stories high with residential on upper
sections and retail/business lower”
• “Shops and buildings have architectural continuity”
• “New eateries/restaurants/boats up and down river”
• “Dining with boat slips”
• “Armory renovated and utilized”
• “Wise land use planning and enforcement”
• “Fletcher Paper gone – Condos – walkways, park, office
and retail in its place”
• “Marine Sanctuary in Armory”
• “Harborside Mall gone – Motel/Hotel/Convention Center”
• “Harborside Mall – New resort development with new
civic convention center”
• “Water Treatment Plant relocated”
• “No more waste water plant, LP and Alpena Oil”
Preferred Future Concepts:
Wise Use of Waterfront
A Place to Live, Work & Play
Consistency & Connectivity
Downtown as a Destination
October 29, 2002 Session
• “No water treatment plant”
• “Hotel conference area”
• “Downtown residences - lofts”
• “Riverfront build-up – storefronts, boardwalk, office space
on 2nd floor, eateries, downtown pharmacy/soda fountain”
• “Boats and dockage on river”
• “Hotel/commercial area on site of waste treatment and
Alpena Oil”
• “Clean industry – with technological need fed by current
resources – ACC”
• “Nightlife – entertainment”
• “Sanctuary, visitors center on river downtown”
• “Related Condos/hotels on riverfront”
• “Odors eliminated”
• “New buildings on riverfront”
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Downtown Framework Plan
The framework plan for downtown Alpena incorporates six fundamental components for revitalization. Each component is not
necessarily dependent on the other for completion but done in a
collaborative fashion they will strengthen and support the overall
success of the broader program. These components include:
1. Capitalize on the Thunder Bay River
2. Return Streets to two way traffic with on street parking
3. Redevelop vacant and under performing properties
4. Identify and consolidate parking
5. Provide wayfinding, and
6. Create a 24 / 7 downtown.
Capitalize on the Thunder Bay River
Downtown Alpena is one of a few Michigan communities whose
downtown has direct access to a Great Lake via a navigable river.
Historically, like many older communities, the river was used for
industrial purposes and water related businesses. Commercial
districts, were developed off the river, sometimes a city block or
two away. As industries became functionally and economically
obsolescent they closed plants leaving behind vacant buildings and
land many times environmentally distressed. Alpena has
experienced this trend and today a good portion of the Thunder
Bay River is available for redevelopment. In the past thirty years
urban waterfronts have been revitalized to include a variety of uses
such as marinas, residences, entertainment venues, restaurants,
and shopping. Alpena can enjoy this resurgence by capitalizing the
opportunities associated with redevelopment along the Thunder
Bay River.
Recapture Downtown Streets
If downtown Alpena is going to survive in the long run then traffic
engineering must take a back seat to downtown revitalization.
One-way streets and the absence of on-street parking is a recipe
for economic decline. In the 1950’s and 1960’s many communities
with state routes succumbed to the state and allowed their
downtown street network to become part of the state trunkline
system. As a result, many main streets in Michigan became
thoroughfares for thru traffic; on-street parking was removed; and
eventually business declined. To compensate for the change in
status the state provided the community with additional funds for
street maintenance. To further aggravate the situation, the field of
traffic engineering started to impress upon communities the need
to accommodate the “peak” hour traffic resulting in wider streets,
one-way streets, and removal of on-street parking. Essentially
communities sacrificed their streets and the vitality of their
downtown to accommodate a one-hour morning and one-hour
afternoon rush hour. Alpena needs to re-establish two-way streets
with on-street parking. On-street parking regardless of the number
of spaces is the gold standard for retailing. Two-way streets, in
addition to making downtown easier to navigate, increases the
exposure of the retailer to customers resulting in more sales and
A good protion of the Thunder Bay River is
ripe for development.
Two-way streets, in addition to making
downtown easier to nabigate, increases the
exposure of the retailer to customers resulting
in more sales and revenues.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Redevelop Vacant and Underutilized Properties
They are referred to as brownfields and greyfields but to the savvy
developer they translate to opportunity. Downtown Alpena has
several properties within this category including the former Fletcher
Paper Factory along the east side of the Thunder Bay River, and
Harborside Mall. The redevelopment of these properties can
definitely enhance the long term viability of the downtown. The
former Fletcher property, if redeveloped as a residential mixed-use
project with river related activities could be a magnet project for the
downtown. Because of Alpena’s status as a “Core” community the
use of state sponsored programs should be pursued. The Harborside
Mall should be evaluated for redevelopment as a waterfront
residential or lodging project. Additionally, there are several vacant
lots within the downtown area which should be considered for in-fill
development. Depending on their location several could be utilized
as commercial buildings, professional offices, or in-fill residential
Downtown Framework Plan
Identify and Consolidate Parking
As noted during the vision sessions and market survey the perception of a lack of parking or the inability to find parking were
reoccurring messages. It appears that in some locations of the
downtown, parking is adequate but is difficult to locate or identify.
Rather than pursue an expensive program of adding more parking
lots the consistent identification of existing lots should be considered. In some locations where public and private parking lots are
adjoining, consolidation of lots into a larger parking area should be
evaluated. Many times these “collective” or “consolidated” lots
render more parking spaces because of the economies of scale
associated with common drives and maneuvering lanes.
Provide Wayfinding
A well-designed sign program provides information and direction in
a consistent format to enable visitors to move around without
confusion. Consistent welcome, directional, identification, information and regulation signs should be a part of your wayfinding
program. A downtown with attractive, consistent signs demonstrates
a sense of pride in the community and creates a positive, unified
image. The signs for Downtown Alpena should be attractive and
reflect the character of the area’s architecture and history. Place
signs in a close relationship to the destination or decision-point they
are intended to serve. Signs must also be located within the view’s
acceptable reading area, or cone of vision. All signs should be
integrated with landscaping and architecture whenever possible and
the sign color should be readable during all the seasons. Developing
a comprehensive wayfinding system with reduce the stress of
customers and especially visitors orienting themselves through an
unfamiliar location and will leave a favorable impression of their
overall experience.
Create a 24-7 Downtown
Downtowns need people. There is no better way to have people
downtown than provide places for them to live. Upper story residential units and residential mixed-use projects should be encouraged
and permitted in the downtown. Further, the composition of
residential units should allow for a diversity of age groups and
income levels. Having a resident population in the downtown
begins to enhance the 24-7 downtown environment. Downtown
Alpena has many historic buildings which would make great upper
story apartments and lofts, and several vacant properties which
could accommodate townhomes and condos.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Downtown Implementation Strategies
The Alpena Downtown Development Authority Board has an
organizational structure set up with some active committees. In
order to execute the recommendations in this plan, board members
will need to take on a more active role in Organization, Design,
Economic Development, and Promotions/Marketing activities.
Below are some suggestions for committee/board members to
consider in each of the areas of downtown revitalization:
Organizational Strategies
By-Law Review
The DDA By-Laws should be reviewed annually for sections that
may be outdated so that necessary amendments can be recommended and approved by the DDA.
Communication between board members, the business community,
City Council, and the residents of Alpena is critical to the success of
the Downtown Development Authority future projects. An overall
public relations program to raise the level of awareness of DDA
activities and accomplishments should be in place. This can be
accomplished by:
• DDA Newsletters
• Press Releases
• Weekly Newspaper Column
• Community Radio Announcements
Communication between board
members, the business community,
City Council, and the residents of
Alpena is critical to the success of
the Downtown Development
Any of these methods can be used when announcing a project,
accomplishment, or election of new board members or officers.
“The primary role of public relations for a downtown management
program is to develop a positive, accurate picture of the organization and its mission. This role should be considered separately from
that of communicating information about the downtown itself,
which is a promotion function. Public relations is a management
function.” (Main Street)
In order to stay up-to-date with current trends, issues and problems
facing downtowns, the DDA should consider or continue memberships in the Michigan Downtown Finance Association, National
Main Street Center, Michigan Retailers Association, and the
Michigan Economic Developers Association. These organizations
can provide vital information and education regarding economic
development, grant and funding availability, and commercial district
Annual Strategic Planning Session
The DDA Board should schedule an Annual Strategic Planning
Session to review the Master Plan and update if necessary.
The DDA Budget and funding sources fall under this category. The
DDA Executive Director should keep abreast of grant and funding
opportunities locally, regionally and statewide, as well as federal
grants available.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Downtown Implementation Strategies
The DDA should consider updating the TIF and Development Plan to
reflect the results of this plan and future developments.
Maintain partnerships with the Downtown Alpena Business Association, Alpena Conference and Visitors Bureau, Target Alpena and
the Alpena Chamber of Commerce. These organizations can
provide valuable resources and volunteers, and together Alpena will
be able to realize its goals much sooner.
Design and Physical Improvement Strategies
In order to increase the physical appeal to business owners, investors and potential customers, Design and Physical Improvement
Strategies must be a vital part of your revitalization program. The
Alpena DDA Design Committee has been very active in many
aspects of the district’s physical improvements including; landscaping, Christmas decorations, lighting and other physcial improvements within the distrct. The Committee also administers the
Vendor Ordinance throughout the district. In addition to these
activities, the Committee may also consider the following:
Facade/Sign Grant Program
Incentive programs should be considered for business and building
owners to improve and maintain the district’s building facades and
signs. Grant or loan programs can be developed to accomplish this
Low Interest Loan Pool
Establish with local lending institutions the creation of a low-interest
loan pool which can be used for the improvements to exterior
facades and conversion of upper story spaces to residential units.
Local lending institutions should view their participation in the
program as part of their respective Community Reinvestment Act
(CRA) activities. Historic Building improvements to facades must be
in compliance with the Secretary of the Interior Standards for
Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings.
A Facade Study would show existing and
proposed conditions and outline guidelines to
achieve the goals of the improvements.
Design/Facade Study
Another consideration is to complete a design study for one of the
main blocks of downtown. This study would show existing and
proposed conditions and outline guidelines to achieve the goals of
the improvements. The study could be used for all future developments as a guide for appropriate facade improvements.
Design Guidelines
Design Guidelines, whether mandatory or voluntary, will help to
guide the appropriate design of facade, sign, and other physical
improvements in the downtown district. At the very least, review
the National Trust for Historic Preservation publication on appropriate improvements to historic buildings. A pro-active approach to
facade improvement needs to be established and with the right
tools in hand ie., incentive programs and design guidelines, you
should be able to start realizing your goals of facade improvements
in the district.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Downtown Implementation Strategies
Wayfinding System
One of the recommendations noted in this plan is to develop a
‘Wayfinding System’ in the Downtown district. The Design
Committee should oversee the development of this project and
make recommendations to the DDA Board.
Streetscape and Parking Lot Improvements
Typically, streetscape and parking lot improvements should be
reviewd by the Design Committee for recommendation to the
DDA Board. An ad-hoc committee could also be set in motion
for these types of projects.
Economic Development Strategies
The goal of an Economic Development strategy is to strengthen the
existing economic assets of the business district while diversifying
the economic base. Activities include analysis of current markets,
retaining and expanding existing businesses, recruiting new businesses to create a balanced mix, converting vacant and underutilized spaces to productive properties, and creating attractive
public/private financing mechanisms to encourage development.
One of the recommendations in this plan is to
develop a ‘wayfinding’ system with a consistently designed family of signs like shown
Market Analysis
The market analysis conducted and included in this master plan
process is an essential tool in making decisions about business
development, real estate development and promotional strategies.
It must be used actively and understood and used by all members of
the DDA Board. This analysis will give the board a sense of what
downtown’s market opportunities are and give some direction on
what the downtown should become. The most apparent uses for a
market analysis in an economic development strategy is to: assist in
creating an overall revitalization strategy; assist existing businesses
considering repositioning by changing or expanding product lines;
evaluating whether or not to proceed with proposed development
projects; utilizing data for business recruitment packages; fulfilling
lender requirements for financing; and helping to influence public
policies including land use, zoning, and public improvements.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Downtown Implementation Strategies
Business Retention
Business retention starts with thoroughly knowing each and every
business so that you can assess the needs of the district and in turn
be pro-active to meeting those needs. Business retention can be as
simple as maintaining a safe, clean and well-maintained environment or can become a full-blown program of financial assistance,
workshops and seminars, and marketing/promotion efforts provided
by the DDA Board. Other business retention activities include:
• Distribute and explain market analysis information at a
meeting held by the DDA.
• Provide assistance programs to renovate buildings/signs.
• Encourage joint and cross advertising programs to ease
costs to business owners and to portray a united image.
• Create a master direct mail or e-mail list for special
promotions of the district.
• Hold ‘Town Meetings’ periodically to allow business
owners to be heard regarding issues affecting the
• Consider creating programs that interact with the
community college and high school for job placement
downtown, window display assistance, etc.
• Continue calendar of major and minor festivals and
promotions to raise awareness for your businesses.
• Consider an overall Marketing Program to promote the
district as a whole.
Once the business retention program is
solidly underway, a comprehensive
business recruitment strategy should be
put into action.
Business Recruitment
Business recruitment strategies are essential to the success of a
comprehensive revitalization plan. One of the most effective
recruitment tools a downtown district can have is an effective
program to assist existing businesses in remaining downtown or
expanding their businesses within the downtown. Through this
process, you will strengthen your businesses and they, in turn will
become your greatest recruitment tool. Once your business retention
program is solidly underway, you should prepare for a comprehensive business recruitment strategy. To develop an overall Business
Recruitment Strategy, the DDA should:
• Maintain a database of available lots, buildings and
rental spaces.
• Develop a list of desired businesses to be recruited
utilizing the information derived from the Market
Analysis Report.
• Develop a business cluster analysis.
• Match desired businesses with available locations.
• Develop a Business Recruitment Packet including:
market analysis and demographic information, trade
area statistics, geographical features ( access to
highway, parking lots, proximity to popular destinations),
commercial district characteristics (anchors, number of
employees, organizations, calendar of events, financial
assistance, revitalization strategy, etc.)
• Keep realtors informed and supply them with the above
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Downtown Implementation Strategies
The Business Recruitment packet should be well designed and of
very high quality. Information within the packet should be personalized for each prospect. The information should be maintained and
updated on a regular basis. The DDA should serve as the central
resource for prospective businesses in the DDA District.
Upper-Story Housing Development
Opportunity exists for upper-story housing development in Downtown Alpena. In order to encourage this type of development,
financial assistance and incentive programs need to be created. In
addition, local ordinances may have to be amended to allow for
these uses within the context of a commercial district.
Opportunity exists for upper-story housing
development in Downtown Alpena.
Redevelopment Projects
Conversion of the former Fletcher property, and the Harborside
Mall property to other uses should be pursued by the DDA. Typically this will involve the DDA becoming a stakeholder in the project
as a potential “financier” of infrastructure and site improvements.
The DDA should use this leverage to procure a higher level of
quality in the project. In many instances a community in the midst
of transition will accept a lower quality of project in order to get
something going. However, Alpena’s downtown location on the
Thunder Bay River is a unique resource that many communities
would be envious of. As a result, the DDA should provide financial
assistance where possible and in turn require higher quality and
public access to the waterfront.
Marketing & Promotion Strategies
Raising the level of awareness of the downtown district is key to the
success of the businesses and the district as a whole. Creating an
overall marketing and promotions program directed at your target
markets will help increase awareness and bring new customers to
the region.
Developing a Marketing & Promotion Program
Hiring a Marketing Director that can focus solely on marketing the
community, creating an image, establishing relationships with
business owners and media, creating a tourism related program,
and creating an annual advertising program would be ideal. Budget
constraints may prevent the Alpena DDA from doing this immediately. In the future, if and when funding is more available, the
Alpena DDA may want to consider hiring a part-time Marketing
staff person or work with the City to hire a joint full-time City/
Downtown Marketing staff person. In the meantime, many
marketing programs can be put in place at little or no cost to the
DDA with the help of active volunteers. Recommendations
• Continue strengthening existing festivals, events and
promotions. Complete an 18-month Calendar of
Downtown Events so that it can be readily available for
business prospects, recruitment packages, customers,
and visitors. This will also be helpful in future planning
of events.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Downtown Implementation Strategies
Work with the local newspaper to submit a weekly
downtown news column. Include news about what’s
new in downtown businesses, promotions, events, DDA
Submit downtown events and happenings to local and
regional radio stations. Most have free community
spotlights Some have programs that give you an
opportunity to be a guest weekly, monthly or quarterly.
Advertise on local cable programs. May offer short ads
on the selected channels for very little cost. Some cable
programs will allow you to even have your own show
highlighting businesses downtown.
Consider cooperative district-wide advertising with local
businesses on all types of media to advertise as a district
and to keep costs down for everyone.
Consider updating the Downtown Alpena website.
Make sure it is linked to all other local and state links
including the Alpena CVB’s website.
Alpena’s Tourism Industry should begin to grow more rapidly with
the designation of the National Marine Sanctuary. Downtown
Alpena should be proactive in meeting the needs of future tourism
by working with the community partnerships. The Downtown group
can provide useful infomation to businesses that serve tourists that
could include suggestions for tourism-oriented businesses. Improved
business practices and customer service should strengthen downtown businesses and prepare them to meet these new opportunities. Educating your local community about the opportunities that
exist in Alpena should be the first step towards developing an
overall tourism plan that can be part of your overall marketing plan.
Downtown Alpena should be proactive in
meeting the needs of future tourism by
working with community partnerships.
Web Site
Place on the DDA web site a summary of market demographics and
profiles, trade area information, downtown wayfinding and parking
lot map, and information on exisitng businesses. Where possible
provide a link to existing business websites to increase market
exposure and penetration. Lastly, make the market study available
as a downloadable “PDF” file.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Downtown Implementation Strategies
Local Government Strategies
Amend Zoning Ordinance
1. Add principally permitted uses in CBD-1: upper floor
dwellings and live-work units.
2. Add special use in CBD-1: attached ground floor dwellings.
3. Prohibit parking lot use where fronting major streets, (e.g.,
Chisholm, Second, Third, etc.).
4. Establish minimum lot coverage of 70% for CBD-1.
5. Establish maximum front yard setbacks in CBD-1 of zero
feet on major streets and ten feet elsewhere, including in
B-1 district instead of current minimum setback.
6. Establish maximum rear yard setbacks in CBD-1: twenty
7. Allow three-story building height in CBD-1, without
conditions, on corners and other prominent sites.
8. Allow four-story building height where ground floor retail is
combined with upper floor offices and/or dwellings.
9. Consider establishing retail frontage lines in CBD-1 on
Chisholm, Second, and Third, where maximum front yard
setback is zero feet; minimum building height is two
stories; parking lots cannot front the ROW; retail/restaurant
uses are preferred uses; storefronts require minimum area
of transparent glass, such as 70% of façade.
10. Consider overlay zoning district for Chisholm Street
Corridor, per City Comprehensive Plan, for improving
setbacks, shared parking, landscaping, etc.
11. Establish standard for maximum off-street parking in all
commercial districts.
12. Reduce off-street parking requirements for: planned
shopping center under 15,000 SF (from current 8.0 to 6.5
spaces per 1000 GFA); restaurant drive-in (from current
32.0 to 15.0 spaces per 1000 GFA); retail stores (from
current 5.3 to 4.0 spaces per 1000 GFA).
13. Prohibit off-street parking within front yards, especially in
CBD-1, CBD-2 and OS-1.
14. Require shared and coordinated access with adjoining
sites, per Comprehensive Plan (see Neighborhood Planning
15. Provide incentives for shared parking between adjoining
uses, in new development site plans, by significantly
reducing off-street parking requirement when shared by
any adjoining uses.
16. Business signs: establish greater allowances for multiple
sign types (of projecting, wall, marquee and awning types)
on buildings. For example, under the current ordinance
[Sec. 2110 (1)(m)], for a narrow width building in midblock and fronting the ROW line, and with an existing wall
sign of more than 4 square feet, neither a projecting,
marquee, canopy or awning sign is allowed for this
building. The current ordinance greatly restricts retail
business exposure to higher speed traffic.
17. Outdoor cafes: transfer regulations from zoning (currently a
special use requiring Planning Commission approval) to
administrative requirements.
Recommendations for zoning
ordinance amendments will help to
ensure that development can
happen in an efficent and
appropriate way.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Downtown Implementation Strategies
Create “Access Management” Program
1. Amend zoning ordinance to require shared access and
interior connections in new development site plans;
2. Create incentives program, in coordination with highway
departments, to proactively improve existing situations
through innovative designs and funding.
Two-Way Streets
Reconfigure local streets for two-way traffic with maximum on-street
parking, to improve access to businesses and links to the waterfront,
to reduce vehicular speeds, and to improve pedestrian circulation.
As illustrated on the following pages Second Street can be converted to two-way streets with on-street parking without changing
the curb locations on the street. Chisholm Street, currently a two
way can also be modified to provide on-street parking on both sides
of the street. Additional analysis will have to be done to confirm the
feasibility of this recommendation. Reconfiguration of these streets
would resolve community and downtown patron concerns about
traffic circulation and confusion navigating through the downtown.
Reconfigure local streets to twoway traffic and maximum on-street
parking to improve access to
businesses and links to the
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Downtown Implementation Strategies
Downtown Parking Plan
To maximize on-street and off-street parking, a downtown
parking plan should be considered. Such a study should include
a database of floor space and building uses, the quantification
of actual parking demand (i.e., the behavior of all those who
use downtown parking facilities), and the application of downtown parking demands onto future build-out projections. Further, the study would indicate the best location for new parking
lots, the conversion of underutilized parking lots to potential infill developments, and assess the effectiveness of local parking
National Register of Historic Places
The historic portion of downtown Alpena should be considered
for inclusion into the National Register of Historic Places. This
designation would allow property owners renovating the exterior
and interior of their buildings access to investment tax credits as
long as the improvements are done in compliance with the
Secretary of the Interior’s guidelines.
To maximize on-street and off-street
parking, a downtown parking plan should
be considered.
Downtown Alpena is home to many
beautiful, historic buildings.
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Downtown Implementation Strategies
The master plan process for the Alpena Downtown Development
Authority involved the business community, residents, elected
local officials and consumers who patron Alpena businesses.
Information, ideas, and expectations were solicited, data was
collected and assessed, and consensus was reached on key
issues. As the master plan evolved information was complied
• Vision sessions with business and property owners,
elected officials, and the community.
• Strategic Edge performed a retail market assessment.
• Land use, building, and parking information was
• A physical assessment of the business district was
conducted, and
• A DDA Board planning retreat was convened.
Projects and programs outlined in the previous section are a
result of this process and the following strategies for the Alpena
Downtown Development Authority are recommended.
1. The DDA should concentrate its early efforts to control
underutilized and underdeveloped properties within the
central core of the business district.
2. The DDA needs to move into the role of “public
developer” by soliciting developers, and procuring the
type of businesses recommended in the retail market
assessment performed by Strategic Edge. The DDA
does not want to squander the retail opportunities
currently present in the market. Similar developments in
adjacent communities could negate the retail potentials
3. The DDA should collaborate with the City Council on
the reconfiguration of one-way streets to two-way
streets. If necessary the DDA should reimburse the City
for the revenue lost from the State as a result of
classification change.
4. The DDA should be an involved stakeholder in the
conversion of brownfield and greyfield properties. A
potential magnet project for the downtown and the
community is the conversion of the former Fletcher
Paper property to a residential mixed-use project. This is
an incredible opportunity.
5. Public infrastructure projects should be implemented
where it has the highest potential to leverage private
sector development and meet the objectives of the
projects identified in the master plan.
Areas to Concentrate Efforts
local zoning provisions to
accomodate upper story residential
•Develop a low-interest loan
pool with local lending institutions which can be directed at
upper story conversion projects
•Conduct and implement a
downtown “wayfinding” system
•Consider the designation of the
downtown as a National
Register of Historic Places
•Reconfigure downtown oneway streets to two-way streets.
•Become a stakeholder in the
redevelopment of the former
Fletcher Paper Company
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan
Vision Session Questionnaire and Results
Stakeholder Interviews and Results
Intercept Survey Forms
Results - Summer Intercept Survey
Downtown Use Map
Alpena Market Analysis & Downtown Strategic Plan

Similar documents