During Troy's trail developments the blogs will be used to present useful development information.

The blogs are a repository of useful information and experiences. Here you will find journal entries, news, updates, and third-party write-ups. The blogs are listed by category. Use the selectors to hone in on specific types of write-ups.

January 10, 2018 by
TROY — Aaron Lad presents a snow-covered Big Beaver. The photo & videos were taken at around 6:30pm, several days after 2 recent snow falls. Temperature 25 degrees. The 16 mile corridor is quickly becoming an active-transit destination. But are the city's Big Beaver snow removal policies up to date? In recent years the walk-up real-estate along the 16mile corridor has become nominally impressive with many new businesses being built that are easily accessible from the sidewalks. And we know that, aside from being a little cold and wet, the winter snow does not stop folks from transiting Troy's 16mile corridor on foot. The 16mile corridor is seeing something of a renaissance, or a sea-change in how new developments are shaping up. The new developments for businesses & restaurants, large and small, are now being clustered into several key locations along the 16 mile corridor, from Coolidge to John R. Each new development has an emphasis on parking in the rear and viable walk-up compatibility from the front. This new emphasis is a product of new building development codes that state how a new buildings should be built along the 16 mile corridor; the code focuses on transparency and walk-up compatibility. Included in some of the new developments is the New City Center office park with 5 new restaurants, 2 new retail spaces, 7 floors of car parking, and 2 new new hotels.  The New City Center is one of the hot-spots on the corridor. Various other hot-spots include the Troy Commons Shopping Center, Sommerset Collection, The Community Town Center and the Troy Sports Center. Each hot-spot is known for busy, around-the-clock transit activity, 365 days a year. But despite the fact that the 16 mile corridor has become a busy transit location, the Big Beaver sidewalk snow-removal maintenance has been notoriously overlooked. The accumulated snow is a good way to spot transit trends.  It's a widely known that urban transit developers and engineers will often look to the snow-cover sneckdowns to spot transit truths. Sneckdowns are formations made in the snow caused by regular transit activity. Sneckdowns are forded either by regular car traffic activity, foot traffic, or bike traffic. The snow cover sneckdowns provide a unique situation whereby foot prints and tire tracks can be easily observed and taken into account. The sneckdowns allow an observer to spot how folks are using infrastructure, where things can be improved, and what is working and what isn't. The 16 mile corridor exhibits many types of sneckdowns. For instance, near the Somerset Collection foot-traffic can be seen in the snow covered median crossing. The sneckdown shows that folks are making a b-line move across the median even though a formal cross-walk exists just 100 feet away. The cross-walk's current design forces individuals to walk 100 feet out of their way to cross the median, although an observer can clearly see in the snow that many folks are opting for a b-line to cross Big Beaver.  Snow cover provides a blanket covering in which foot prints and tire tracks can be easily impressed and seen. Urban transit developers and engineers will often look to the snow cover to spot truths about how folks are using transit infrastructure. The snowcover is also a good indicator of how serious our city governments are welcoming foot-traffic. Cities where foot-traffic is recognized and valued often exhibit strict sidewalk snow clearing ordinances. For instance in Birmingham city ordinance requires downtown property owners to clear the public sidewalks of snow and ice within 12 hours or face fines, and business owners are reminded to clear the sidewalk, building to street, to ensure safety and walkability. The city of Plymouth also has strict snow removal policies; the city of Plymouth code states that all property owners in the city must clear sidewalks within 24 hours of the end of a snow fall, and according to the code, the cleared snow and ice has to be placed near the roads in a particular way to ensure fluid transit and walkability.  The Somerset Collection seems to have mastered the art of sidewalk snow removal (See the image above). The sidewalks adjacent to the Somerset Collection are immaculately cleared of any snow and ice, and there doesn't seem any of that corrosive rock-salt strewn over the place. I can rollar-skate on this sidewalk. Although this section of cleared sidewalk only makes up a small segment of the 16 mile corridor, this section is an ideal representation of how snow removal should be done along the corridor; clean, dry, no snow or ice, minimal rock-salt. The Starbucks at the corner of Crooks and 16 mile should take some tips from the Somerset Collection's snow removing crew. Starbucks sidewalk does not appear to be cleared at all. As you can see in the animated video, the spot seems to have been transited by a ton of folks in just a day and a half. This spot is located just foot steps from Troy's New City Center.  See the image below: The green lines indicate where snow & ice has been cleared, and the red lines are the sidewalks that have not been cleared. Although Troy has a 3-inch snow removal ordinance that states that it's main sidewalks must be cleared of snow when accumulation reaches 3 inches, the ordinance may not be serving the new walk-up businesses as it should. Nearly half of 16mile corridor sidewalks, from I75 to Coolidge, have not been plowed. Individuals that transit the location in the winter have to put up with trenches, precarious uneven hard-packed surfaces, ice, and knee high sneckdowns. These conditions are not the type of conditions that we see in areas that take pride in people-friendly walk-ups. Walk-up environments are known for walkability, people-friendliness and bikeability year round. Walk-ups are designed so that individuals can easily transit the walkable environments, any time of the year, without hassle. As Troy continues to develop the 16mile corridor into a more people-friendly destination some things will definitely have to change.  #Snow #Appian #WalkUp #Infrastructure

December 18, 2017 by
Source: Steven Pedigo & Aria Bendix @ governing.com — It's no secret that millennials are seen as essential for urban prosperity. In October, a Politico survey of American mayors found that 85% of mayors considered attracting this desirable demographic one of their top 10 priorities. Nearly half of those surveyed identified cultural amenities as their cities' most important selling point, but the vast majority said the biggest obstacle to attracting and retaining millennials was a lack of affordable housing and reliable public transit (including bicycling amenities). While major hubs like Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco struggle with both access and affordability, these options and characteristics are abundant in small to mid-sized cities. In the last five years, places like Buffalo New York, Providence Rhode Island, and Riverside California, have all attracted millennials at much faster rates than New York or San Francisco, thanks in large part to local incentives that cater to 21st century interests. By building on the following key strengths to attract millennial talent, small to mid-sized cities are becoming better models of growth and development than the nation's largest economic hubs. Ease of commuting: Many smaller cities' transit systems are becoming more reliable and expansive. For example, In 2016, Denver opened the University of Colorado A Line, a commuter-rail project that dramatically reduces travel times from downtown to the city's airport, Denver is also known for it's expansive bicycling amenities. A variety of public transportation options exist in Jersey City, New Jersey as well, including ferry, light rail, bus lines and comprehensive bicycling infrastructure. The developments have helped spur a massive population growth. Today, Jersey City's public transit systems have become so convenient that the median income of its transit users exceeds that of its car commuters! Abundance of affordable housing: Smaller cities like Tulsa, Oklahoma, outperform most major cities in terms of their affordable housing supply. In Tulsa, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is around $660 a month. Many smaller cities also have the advantage of being located just outside major economic hubs; a number of young Boston families, for instance, are choosing to save money by relocating to Providence and commuting back and forth to Boston each week. Distinct quality of place; character: Increasingly, small to mid-sized cities have learned to cultivate the same dynamic and diverse quality of place that is synonymous with big-city living. In recent years, for example, Jersey City has transformed into a budding startup and innovation district for small-businesses and entrepreneurs, with a vibrant restaurant and arts scene and a reputation for both safety and walkability. This growth has been accompanied by a surge of new development, including Journal Squared, a mixed-use project with views of the New York City skyline, and a $26 million STEM building at Hudson Community College. Efforts to engage local talent: By encouraging millennial individuals to become involved in the local dialog, many small to mid-sized cities have been able to retain their graduates and young professionals. A number of successful examples can be found in Richmond, Virginia; a city that saw the second highest growth in millennial population (nearly 15 percent) from 2010 to 2015. A grassroots company started by Richmond natives, New Richmond Ventures, invests in local businesses that are often millennial-run. And Helping Young Professionals Engage, an organization backed by the local Chamber of Commerce, connects younger residents to the Richmond business community. In Tulsa, a group called Tulsa's Young Professionals funds programs that engage young professionals in economic development and "placemaking" initiatives, which reimagine public spaces to improve residents' health, happiness and well-being (roughly the same stated goals as the Troy Trails & Pathways inititive). Involvement of local anchor institutions: In many small to mid-sized cities, individual companies or other anchor institutions—large universities, medical centers, real-estate developers or high-tech firms that quite literally anchor urban centers to the culture itself—are having profound effects on attracting and retaining millennial talent. Recently, for example, the world-famous Mayo Clinic, a popular career destination for millennials, teamed up with its home city of Rochester, Minnesota, to create a $5.6 billion dollar economic development plan for attracting young workers with an interest in health care or STEM. Initiatives like these draw from the unique resources of smaller cities, whose affordability and accessibility play a key role in appealing to 21st century millenial residents. By turning to the efforts of their peers for inspiration, small to mid-sized cities can outpace the big-city competitors as the nation's premier destinations for 21st century talent and beyond. #Infrastructure #AffordableHousing #Walkability #Talent

December 17, 2017 by
TROY — Set to officially begin in the winter of 2018, the John R Reconstruction project will be widening the road and adding much-needed sidewalks to both sides of the corridor. :thumbsup: The John R Reconstruction project limits extend from the north side of the Long Lake Road intersection to the M-59 bridge over John R Road just north of South Boulevard. All side street approaches & easements within these limits will be included in the reconstruction. The estimated construction cost is $14.7 million dollars. The project includes:  2 miles of asphalt reconstruction 3 lanes wide with a continuous center left turn lane Curb and gutter and catch basins A continuous 8-foot wide concrete sidewalk on the east side of John R A continuous 10-foot wide asphalt Hot-Mix-Asphalt (HMA) path on the west side of John R New water main and hydrants from Long Lake to Square Lake Road Sanitary sewer reconstruction (locations will vary) Storm sewer reconstruction Driveway replacements  Two new traffic signals at Square Lake Road & South Boulevard Sidewalk ramp replacement to meet current standards Bridge deck replacement at the Nelson Drain New signs and pavement markings New street lighting Phase-1 of the John R Reconstruction project will begin with underground utility work including water main work and sanitary sewer storm drains. The expected timeline of this phase will span from the winter of 2018 to sometime in spring of 2019. Two-way traffic will continue to flow during this first phase. Phase-2 will being in the Spring of 2019. From April to July the city will begin applying temporary pavement so that a center turn lane can be installed and so northbound traffic can continue to flow. During this phase southbound traffic will be detoured, see the image below. Phase-3 begins in the Summer of 2019. From July to October the southbound lane will be reconstructed, along with the catch basis, driveways and side-street easements. Southbound traffic will continue to be detoured. From October to November road markings and signage will be applied. 2-way traffic will resume sometime in October of 2019. See the map below for detour instructions. For additional information contact The City of Troy Engineer, Mr. William J. Huotari by phone at 248-524-3383 or by email HuotariWJ@troymi.gov You can also download the John R Reconstruction Brochure Here #Contruction #JohnR

December 4, 2017 by
TROY — Source: Troy Police Department — Just the other day Officer Morgan, Officer Venier, Sgt. Bragg and Gobler, responded to VanCourtland and Robinwood on a report of a 5 year old boy who got his foot stuck in his new bicycle while out on an excursion with his mother and siblings. Extensive efforts were made to free the boy's foot, with no success. The Fire Department ultimately had to be called to the scene, and pneumatic tools were needed to free the young man. Unfortunately, the bike was destroyed in this process. In the spirit of holiday goodwill, the officers kicked in and purchased a new bike for the boy at Walmart. #LoveBicycling #TroyPoilice #TroyFireDepartment

December 2, 2017 by
LANSING — Source: Ray Wilbur Capital News Service, petoskeynews.com — Michigan’s efforts to bring Chinese investment are reinvigorating manufacturing plants that have been vacant for years. During a trip there last year, Snyder signed agreements to promote trade and investment with Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Hubei, Guangdong and Zhejiang, as well as the city of Chongqing. The regions are known to have many key auto-companies, bicycle manufacturers, and related equipment suppliers, thus making the region a natural fit for Michigan due to its pre-existing auto-industry and related infrastructure. "Since becoming governor in 2011, Rick Snyder has made five trips to China and has pushed initiatives that have brought 23 Chinese companies to the state," said Josh Paciorek, the governor’s deputy press secretary, "It's created 3,541 jobs and accounts for $649.5 million invested in 11 cities." Paciorek pointed to a recent investment in August, when Zhongding, a subsidiary of Anhui Zhongding Sealing Parts, a Chinese manufacturer, announced an expansion of its manufacturing facility in Cadillac, investing $4.3 million in a new building and new equipment. As an incentive, the project was awarded a $600,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant and it’s expected to create more than 125 jobs. “As our economy keeps improving here at home, companies from all over the world will look to grow in Michigan,” Paciorek said. And just last May, the Michigan Strategic Fund Board, part of the Michigan Economic Development Corperation, approved a $5 million grant to lure Chinese investment to the state, including setting up the Michigan-China Innovation Center in Detroit. Michigan is one of only 12 states with more than $750 million in Chinese investments since 2000, according to the Rhodium Group, which analyzes global economic trends. As China’s industry and economy continues to mature and become more like countries such as Japan and South Korea, it will continue to invest in the U.S. to be closer to it's customers. #China #Jobs #Infrastructure

December 2, 2017 by
Smart Growth America (SGA) and the National Complete Streets Coalition recenly published their new policy grading framework and scoring system for Complete Streets methodology. Beginning in 2018, Smart Growth America will be using this revised policy grading framework to analyze and rank Complete Streets policies. The changes come after the SGA committee voted to approve the framework in 2017. For months a group of national stakeholders, consisting of engineers, planners, researchers, and advocates, worked to revise the policy elements and truly raise the bar for what Complete Streets should look like in-practice around the United States. So why change the framework? In 2016, National Complete Streets Coalition adopted a strategic plan that called for increased implementation and dynamic equity inthe  Complete Streets policies and practices. When grading the policies, SGA realized that the ideal elements did not match the current realities in transit infrastructure that communities across United States desperately need. Policies are the first step to safe, accessible, convenient throughfares for everyone regardless of age, race, ethnicity, income, physical ability, or how an individual chooses to travel. The framework that SGA released today includes added requirements and steps designed to implement Complete Streets as a pallateable, reasonable way. Here's what YOU can do: First, read the full policy grading rubric and the scoring methodology. Smart Growth America is now accepting nominations for the Best Complete Streets initiatives to include in our 2017 report. Do you know of a project, initiative, event, person, or task force that exemplifies Complete Street ideals? Fill out this nomination form by December 15th. #CompleteStreets 

November 29, 2017 by
TROY — Source: Kurt Bovensiep, Troy's Public Works Director — Thank you to everyone that participated in the productive meeting earlier this month. Alex Bellak and Ashely Levin have done a great job putting the information together that everyone detailed on the maps. Attached are heat maps of the neighborhood nodes and suggested pathways we discussed. I was very pleased to see that although we have a diverse group making up this committee that we all seem to have consensus on what is important to connect to within the city and how to get there. Schools and Parks seem to be the majority of connection points. At this point I am asking the committee to affirm my analysis. I am scheduled to provide an update to City Council on December 18 at the regular City Council Meeting and would like to announce that the committee has agreed on important points of connections throughout the city and options on how to connect to them. #Meeting #Maps #KurtBovensiep 

November 28, 2017 by
U of M — The city of Troy received top marks for spurring entrepreneurial growth and economic development in a recent ranking by the University of Michigan – Dearborn’s Center for Innovative Research. Through data compiled by participating communities and public records, the U of M Dearborn iLabs eCities program examines factors that contribute to entrepreneurship, economic development and job growth.  The city of Troy was rated as a five-star community along with 183 other communities across the state, including Bloomfield Township, Grosse Pointe Park, Grosse Pointe Farms, Huntington Woods, Rochester Hills, Roseville and Traverse City. The annual eCities research project, which began in 2007, previously used data supplied by the participants. This year, the study reviewed data that was publicly available. The eCities study analyzed publicly available data from 277 communities in 54 counties in Michigan. Researchers focused on the five-year changes in property values, community assets and tax rates, which can demonstrate the growth, investments and cost of doing business within the community. For example, over the five-year period, these communities increased their capital assets by an average of 2 percent per year by purchasing public safety equipment, and improving sidewalks and other infrastructure. “While accounting for only about 15 percent of the cities and townships in Michigan, the 277 communities analyzed are home to nearly 70 percent of the population and 85 percent of the state’s commercial property,” Tim Davis, iLabs director, said of the study in a prepared statement. “By analyzing these high-performing communities, our goal is to showcase what cities and townships are doing to spur growth and how we can continue to support their efforts in developing business and encouraging entrepreneurs. “In past years, we asked communities to submit data and we collected data on their behalf,” Davis said. “It was more work for communities.”  He explained that this year, municipalities could still submit data, but U of M Dearborn’s iLabs eCities staff compiled the quantitative data from the Michigan Department of Treasury and Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports.  From this, Davis said, they culled data on city investments and governmental assets, including investment in sidewalks, streets and public safety equipment, and improvements to municipal buildings, including technology upgrades.  “It’s always nice to have a third party doing the analysis, especially from a regarded source such as U of M Dearborn, supporting what we’re trying to do,” said Glenn Lapin, economic development specialist for Troy. The city of Troy was slated to be recognized Nov. 14 during an eCities panel discussion held at U of M Dearborn.  “We’re going to recognize and celebrate the work the cities are doing and hear from business leaders on their concerns and their perspective on how to support growth and continue to grow,” Davis said. #UofM #Business #GlennLapin #Sidewalks #Technology

November 16, 2017 by
TROY — Opportunities for new pedestrian crossings at Wilshire & Big Beaver raise questions about the location's overall people-friendliness. The logical thing to do when developing a new city center is to provide folks with cool attractions and safe viable pathways for people to transit the landscape seamlessly on foot. Troy's New City Center development broke ground in the spring of 2017. The project site is centered around a 13-story 300,000 square foot office building; formerly known as The New World tower; the site includes plans for 220 luxury apartments, 5 new restaurants, 3 new retail spaces, and an expanded parking garage to accommodate the parked cars. But after a year in the works, the New City Center's pedestrian passageways have not shapen up in tandem with the various City Center installments. And so I have something to say about it: This blog entry presents an example for a small foot-path crosswalk section that crosses Wilshire Drive just east of the New City Center development. This blog entry provides several reasons why a crosswalk should exist, the blog entry provides a list of benefits that are proven to enhance pedestrian experiences, and the blog entry also highlights a small parcel of land, near the proposed crosswalk, that may be put to better use to better serve the public. I believe that the things that make a city rememberable and satisfying is how seamlessly an individual can glean goodness from it; that could mean anything from receiving a nice cup of coffee from a friendly face in a warm environment, or it could be beautiful archetecture, or it could simply be a neatly placed park bench that aligns perfectly with the built-environment—it's the satisfaction we glean from our environment that acts as the fundamental primer in allowing our cities, our communities and our own individual self to grow to prosper. Pathways to Opportunity I have created a map of the New City Center site. The site is located at Wilshire Drive and Big Beaver. In the first image (Image-1) you will see the broad layout of the New City Center site. In the image you will notice a solid green line that encompasses the site; the green line is a suggested "New City Center Bike Path" proposal. The New City Center Bike Path proposal calls for a green painted bike-path that encircles the entire City Center site. One of the reasons why I am proposing this bike path is because I think the best way to accentuate an urbanized city center is to accentuate it with a bold, easily seen Bike Path. A Bike Path at the New City Center will increase the City Center's overall attraction and urban feel and it will provide a safe right-of-way for cyclists in an otherwise busy, high-traffic location. Plus bike paths in high-traffic areas are known to be excellent traffic calming devices. Back to image Image-1: you will notice a large red circle focused around the median at Wilshire Drive—In the next image, Image-2, we see the same location zoomed in. Notice the light blue line that crosses Wilshire; the light blue line is a pedestrian crosswalk proposal. The proposal calls for a crosswalk tha can enable folks to travel from the New City Center to the restaurants like Bonefish Grill, and the new Hotels in a more fluid and seamless manner. Note: While I was scouting Wilshire Drive, 4 adults crossed at that exact location where I am proposing we install the crosswalk. Despite not having a formal crosswalk, the 4 individuals crossed Wilshire Drive in a seamless and natural manner. So one can easily imagine how a crosswalk at Wilshire Drive will be used. See the video: Now goto Image-3: you can see the easement that the proposed crosswalk will be able to connect to. By installing a crosswalk at that location folks can seamlessly cross Wilshire Drive in a seamless, natural city-like manner—There's even enough room on the Wilshire's median for a nice hedgerow or small monument. By bridging the gap in our pedestrian infrastructure we can improve the quality of life for each individual living in our city, while at the same time increasing business and economic activity. I believe the goal of all urban transit developments is to provide viable & diverse infrastructure for all types individuals so that each individual can get where they want to go seamlessly and comfortably. When urban city centers provide safe, interesting and seamless passageways for individuals to use, everyone benefits, particularly small businesses and families. #Sidewalk #CityCenter #Infrastructure #BikePath

October 12, 2017 by
ROYAL OAK — The land at the former Normandy Oaks Golf Course is being turned into the largest park in Royal Oak. Residents are asked to offer their opinions on what features the new park should include at a community engagement session Oct. 28 at the Royal Oak Schools administration office. Nearly four years after Royal Oak voters approved closing the former Normandy Oak municipal golf course and turning it into the city’s largest park residents will have a chance to suggest what type of features they want to see there. Jeffrey Huhat, managing partner of Nowak & Fraus Engineers, said residents are invited to drop in from 9am to 4pm at a community meeting Saturday, October 28th at the Royal Oak Schools Administration Building, 800 Devillen. The city hired Nowak & Fraus to oversee the park’s creation and a community engagement effort to get residents involved in setting priorities for the 40-acre park. Top priorities that emerged in the 2015 survey suggest residents want a park that has natural features and includes such things as soccer fields, walking and biking trails. Royal Oak sold off about 10 acres of the former golf course, with voter approval, to a housing developer for roughly $3.5 million to finance the Normandy Oak park, as well as some improvements at other parks and facilities. Nowak & Fraus will be working with Landscape Architects & Planners of Lansing on the park project. Huhat said the goal, after getting input from residents and city approval, is to bid out work to create the park in April 2018 and for construction to begin in May. The October 28th community engagement meeting will include a brief presentation on the conditions at the Normandy Oaks property and an overview of the park project as a whole. #RoyalOak #Park #Meeting