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Planners see ‘very bright’ future for MC

September 22, 2018

MICHIGAN CITY — Local officials gathered to discuss the city’s comprehensive 20-year plan at City Hall on Tuesday evening, and were asked to prioritize the projects most important to them.

Momentum: Michigan City 2040 covers everything from infrastructure and traffic corridors to the city’s economic outlook, and community health and wellbeing.

According to city Planning Director Craig Phillips, the comprehensive plan “takes a look at various things like the provision of housing within our community, transportation improvements or upgrades that need to be made, where we want to see the city grow and develop.

“We want to identify opportunities for infill and redevelopment within the core of the city. We want to prepare ourselves for opportunities that are coming in the future – potentially doubletrack and the impact that will have on the community from a land use standpoint. But ultimately, it’s the blueprint for the community over the next 20 years.”

After going through a slide presentation with planning consultant Aaron Tuley of Kendig Keast Collaborative, members of the Michigan City Common Council, Plan Commission and Redevelopment Commission identified a number of smaller projects within the plan that they’d like to see tackled within the next one to three years.

For example, some officials suggested forming an affordable housing strategy, establishing a co-working facility and developing a micro-loan program.

An area of major interest identified Tuesday was developing a transit-oriented development plan focused on the 11th Street train station.

Tuley said initiatives like NICTD’s plan for a doubletrack throughout the region are likely to grow Michigan City’s population by 10,000-12,000 over the next 20 years, and noted 45,000-50,000 population is a conservative estimate for the year 2040.

“I’ve worked on comprehensive planning initiatives in communities comparable to Michigan City all over the country,” Tuley said, “and many cities don’t have the luxury of anticipating the type of changes that this community may experience over the next couple of years, which I think are very exciting. The doubletracking of the South Shore Line, the new Franciscan regional medical center, the expansion of the municipal airport – the list goes on and on. …

“I think Michigan City’s future is very bright, and the main reason I think that is because they have the leadership and an informed citizenry in place in order to pull all of this stuff off. And they also have special financing districts which enable them to accrue the requisite funding that they need in order to do some of these projects.”

To follow along as the city’s comprehensive plan is updated, visit mc2040.com.

Phillips said the plan for the existing city is posted now, but the future plan will be posted after community feedback has been considered to determine which projects should be included.

Tuley said he anticipates the future comprehensive plan will be ready for Plan Commission review by Oct. 15, and for Common Council consideration in November.

Focus on growth

The Momentum: Michigan City 2040 comprehensive plan consists of eight focus areas:

1. Growth Capacity and Economic Performance

2. Environmental Management and Green Infrastructure

3. Utilities Infrastructure/Public Services

4. Transportation Infrastructure

5. Downtown

6. Housing and Neighborhoods

7. Sustainability, Resilience and Community Wellness

8. Land Use and Community Character

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