DDA considers future Development Plan and TIF plan at Aug. 13 meeting

By Megan Kelley

Review Writer

For some time now, the Lake Orion DDA has been working on creating a new development plan and tax increment financing (TIF) plan.

With the help of Planner Laura Haw from McKenna Associates, the DDA has distributed surveys and held roundtable discussion sessions in order to get a grasp on how those who work, live and play in Lake Orion feel about the town and what they wish to see moving forward.

During the Aug. 13 meeting, Haw gave the board an update on the current state of the TIF plan.

Currently, the plan includes five high priority objectives, which are:

• Adding a crosswalk on M-24 so downtown visitors can move freely between the downtown and the lake.

• Additional parking availability

• Redevelopment of underused or vacant properties

• Enhanced green spaces and public parks

• More events and cultural amenities.

Haw also identified four key locations that could potentially be future opportunities for the area.

The first was the Lake Orion Lumber Yard.

“This is an opportunity to better tie the downtown into the M-24 corridor instead of having it be such a stark contrast and a better transition to the residential on Atwater (St.),” said Haw.

She suggested that the area could potentially be turned into single-family residential or live/work units.

Next was the “triangle piece” on the corner of Broadway and M-24.

Haw stated that though the area is small, it is a great location for the DDA, village and township to put in a gateway entrance of some sort.

The third location is the large area between M-24 and Lake Orion near Heights Road.

“It’s balancing the historic roots of the community with new development, while creating and maintaining really that connection to the lake,” Haw said.

Lastly, the Ehman Center located on Elizabeth Street.

“As this is located in a neighborhood, keeping a portion of the site as open space is pretty important. We’ve seen with a lot of redevelopment of school properties in other communities…that that goes a long way and really ties the development together,” Haw said.

According to Haw, all four of these sites all have potential to be the “catalyst development” for the DDA.

“I think if the DDA board is onboard with this, I think all four sites warrant a closer look and a render plan,” said Hall.

The DDA draft plan is expected to be completed by this Friday and presented at the next DDA board meeting on Sept. 10.

Also during the meeting:

Main Street of Oakland County (MSOC) representative John Bry discussed the historic preservation of the two lots recently purchased by the DDA — at 52 and 104 Slater Street.

The lots were purchased from the Lake Orion Methodist Church for $275,000 earlier this summer with plans to demolish the homes and transform the lots into additional parking spaces, likely as designated parking for downtown employees.

The board approved allowing MSOC to present an alternative plans for those two lots that would still include a parking lot at the Sept. 10 meeting.