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Report: Dearborn Train Station District Needs More Walkability, Residents

Residents and visitors are asked to give their input on housing, sustainability and economic plans for the area at a Dec. 12 forum.

Dearborn residents will get the chance this month to have their say in plans for development near Dearborn’s Intermodal Passenger Rail Station.

A Dec. 12 forum on Transit Oriented Development and ask for resident input on planning for future economic, housing and environmental developments surrounding the train station.

Global Green Report: More Pedestrians, Housing Needed

As construction began last summer on the federally funded train station, Dearborn was also .

TOD is a process by which municipalities build their community around a transportation hub—in this case, the train station. The project is centered on creating a vibrant district for living and working, as well as ensuring that the space is sustainable, pedestrian-friendly, and welcoming to a diverse range of residents and visitors.

Dearborn’s TOD district extends a quarter-mile radius from the train station.

Global Green’s recently released study—which extends further into west downtown but encompasses the TOD district—examines ways in which the city can improve the area’s appeal and use in sustainable ways.

Download the full report from the City of Dearborn website.

Among their observations, explained Jessica Turner of the city’s Planning Department, Global Green felt that the district needs to be more pedestrian friendly, have more downtown housing, as well as encourage higher environmental standards for new and existing developments.

“This is ultimately building a future that’s … more environmentally responsible,” Turner explained, adding that the city “should promote housing developments … particularly student housing.”

Ideas for the district included both specific and general recommendations:

  • West downtown, as a district, should extend to the train station
  • Eliminating the right-hand turn lane at Michigan Avenue onto Brady Street to make the crossing safer for pedestrians and bicyclists
  • Planting more trees
  • Developing a defined bicycle plan for the district
  • Long term, creating on-street parking on Michigan Avenue in west downtown, as well as a “bike share” program with drop off/pick up stations near downtown
  • Filling in “empty” space—such as at Michigan and Brady, or near the parking decks on West Village Drive—with student housing

“There’s no need for any further non-residential development,” Turner said, “yet the area could benefit from a larger residential population.”

Residents: What Do You Think?

The next step in the process is gauging residents’ feelings on the proposals, which will be done at the Dec. 12 TOD forum.

The forum will be in Studio A at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center from 5:30-7:30 p.m., and will include food and the possibility of prizes.

Though TOD is not a familiar concept to most, Dearborn Economic and Community Development Department Barry Murray said he hopes the concept won’t deter residents from joining in the conversation.

“Please come and share your ideas about how the west Dearborn area can capitalize on the benefits of having a major train station in one of our downtowns, and how we can build on our community’s traditions to generate a unique sense of place,” Murray urged. “It’s meant to be fun, while at the same time giving people a chance to speak up about what they think should be included in the future development of west Dearborn neighborhoods and business areas.”

The forum is open to all, including residents throughout Dearborn, business owners, and those who work and go to school in Dearborn.

A three-day forum on TOD will take place in January.

Supporting the event through door prizes, food and beverages are: Joe Vicari’s Andiamo Italian Steakhouse, Bailey’s Pub & Grille, BD's Mongolian Grill, L.A. Bistro, Merle Norman, Sophia’s Giftique, Starbucks, The Post Bar, Westborn Market and PizzaPapalis.

Correction: This article originally stated that the TOD district extends to Military Street. This is incorrect.

Michael D. Albano December 09, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Hopefully all of the questions and or complaints will be answered at the meeting at Studio A in The Center on Wednesday, between 5:30 until 7:30pm. Let's all show up to voice our concerns and/or our ideas. I hope to see you there...
Lynn Brewer December 09, 2012 at 08:59 PM
When Fairlane Shopping center went in, West Dearborn's business declined. Muirheads, one of the finest stores you could find any where, closed. Crowley's closed and other stores as well. (I especially miss the Hallmark store) Bicycle paths? SPoon covered that very well. Parking on the street????What happens to all the parking structure? Maybe we can find some answers at the 12th meeting.
Lee Jacobsen December 10, 2012 at 04:57 AM
Lynn, we now have a upscale Goodwill store, so all is not lost. Regarding bikes, we initially just need places to park them, lock them up, so the neighborhood folk can ride a few blocks and enjoy a meal, or do some quick shopping. The only bike path needed would be from the RR station, so outsiders can experience Dearborn. Regarding parking, once we slow down Michigan Ave with free parallel parking, on both sides, leaving two lane traffic and a center left turn lane, interesting stores will reopen due to the increased customer traffic, on foot and via car, and , in decent weather, bikes. With more stores opening, and even more customers, the parking structures will fill up with the overflow. The free parallel parking is simply the 'hook'. If store vouchers for parking happens, that will certainly help matters. Folk shop for a reason, and we need the shops as a reason to attract folk. However, shops need customers to see them, need impulse shoppers to stop and buy things, and an expressway thru downtown Dearborn does not help. Slow the cars down, let them see and stop at the shops, and even more interesting and unique shops will come. Leave it as it is, well, is everyone happy with Dearborn's current stores? Perhaps, but we need more! The stores still with us need reinforcements, more stores to attract more folk, and, in turn, they will help each other with a larger customer base, which is us, and of course all the folk from the RR station. Fantasy? Why not?
bitsy08 December 10, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Oh, my, God. Slow down traffic on Michigan Avenue? That's a MAJOR thoroughfare. Parking on both sides of the street? Are you kidding me? If you did that, I'd make sure I found another way home. I have a niece who works at Ford and she refuses to drive down Michigan Avenue. She takes Ford Road and I'm sure that's what a lot of people would do. So far, all Dearborn has are restaurants. Can it sustain more restaurants? I doubt it. I think this whole thing is wishful thinking. Nice idea but you don't have the infrastructure to sustain the big ideas. Perhaps it would be nice to start with the train station and then move on to other ideas in a few years. I still think that if you inhibit the traffic, you're cutting down on your customer-base big time.
Lee Jacobsen December 10, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Bitsy, read what you wrote. You actually agree with me. Downtown Dearborn does not need or want commuters who put the car into drive mode, and come back to reality when they arrive at work, ignoring all else. Downtown stores need folk whose destination is downtown to eat, shop, mingle, etc. If you want to get to work fast, use Ford Rd, I-94, or other roads that are more efficient. If you worked in Ypsilanti, would you take Michigan ave through Wayne, etc or just take I-94? Exactly!! When you want to go shopping at interesting places, and not go to work, that is the time you would venture onto Michigan Ave in Dearborn. It could be another , what was the town from 'Its a Wonderful Life' ? Bedford Falls? Lot's of walking about and activity, from the front and back of stores. That activity attracts stores to establish themselves to cater to folk, and isn't that what we want, a vibrant Downtown, rather than bars and a few restaurants that manage to catch a commuter on the way home from work who needs a drink and parks in back? Try trolling the free parking lot in front of the Men's Warehouse or Mongolians, it is always packed and those businesses are thriving. The rest of Dearborn could be the same way, slow moving and busy. If you want to just get to work fast, as you say, make sure you found another way . If you want to enjoy Dearborn's shops, then venture on Michigan Ave. The customer base is not commuters, it is the neighborhood, and eventually train folk.

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