DDA gets $2,500 grant to turn alleys into places to ‘linger’

Two pedestrian alleys in downtown Oxford’s southeast quadrant are poised to receive makeovers thanks to a placemaking grant from Flagstar Bank and Main Street Oakland County.

The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) was awarded $2,500 to spruce up the public space between the Acheson Building (28 S. Washington St.) and Lori’s Pet Paradise (24 S. Washington St.) and the public space behind Creative Embroidery (10 E. Burdick St.)

According to DDA Executive Director Glenn Pape, the goal is to foster “a more pleasant environment” that encourages folks to visit and stay awhile.

“We’re just trying to create places for people to linger,” he explained. “(When) downtowns have a place for people to linger or stay, it extends shopping trips, it gives people another reason to . . . enjoy downtown.”

The alley between the Acheson Building and Lori’s Pet Paradise will receive bright-colored bistro seating, illuminated market umbrellas, trash cans and a thorough power-washing.

In the area behind Creative Embroidery, planters will be installed along with brightly-painted lounge chairs and solar-powered phone charging stations.

Both alleys currently have overgrown and dying vegetation that will be pruned and/or removed. Brightly-colored perennial flowers will be added.

“We’re just trying to create little pockets of interest,” Pape said. “If it’s brightly-colored, it attracts attention, it brings people into that space.”

Pape believes these will be ideal places for people to take a break from shopping, enjoy lunch, socialize or just relax and soak up the downtown atmosphere.

If the alleys are “successful,” Pape said the DDA could pursue more grants and find other monies within its budget to improve “a spot or two” on the back sides of the other three quadrants.

“Hopefully, people will use them and then we can start making more of those spots throughout the rest of downtown,” he said.

Having “welcoming and inviting” public spaces on the back sides of the quadrants will be especially important when the M-24 reconstruction project happens in 2020 and the front sides are torn up, noisy and inaccessible, Pape noted.

Fixing up these two alleys is expected to cost just under $5,200. The DDA will use some of its funds to cover the rest of the project.

“We budget monies to do small-scale improvements in the downtown and this was an opportunity to leverage that with this placemaking grant,” Pape said.

Work on the alleys is expected to start in mid-September and wrap up in October.

“We’re hoping to get it all done by the end of this month, but there are no guarantees with weather and everything,” Pape said.

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