By Tony Wittkowski | Local Government Reporter | The Times Herald
ST. CLAIR – The Community Foundation of St. Clair County is working to raise $62,500 in 60 days.
If it makes its goal, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation will match it, dollar for dollar, to help fund the remaining work of the St. Clair Riverview Plaza redevelopment.
“The MEDC is investing in places that community members can gather at all across the state,” said Lynn Griffor, Community Foundation of St. Clair County vice president. “The St. Clair plaza is one of several communities that are vying for the grant.”
The $125,000 would go toward the second phase of the courtyard redevelopment, including a fireplace, fountain, decorative railing and art.
If the matching dollars aren’t raised by May 1, the community foundation will not receive the grant.
The first phase of the courtyard redevelopment cost $500,000, and included the excavation and infrastructure of the courtyard, said Randy Maiers, community foundation executive director.
The project as a whole is 85 percent complete. The grant and matching dollars would complete the project.
Griffor said the foundation is already $15,000 toward reaching its goal; Northstar Bank has pledged $10,000, and the Community Foundation’s Blue Water Arts Committee has donated $5,000.
Maiers said the courtyard redevelopment, which started in 2014, is expected to be complete for a June 18 grand opening.
“If the grant is matched, we will be able to complete phase two of construction which includes installing the fireplace, the fountain, decorative railings and local art,” Maiers said. “With the exception of laying down sod, phase one is complete.”
The two front corners closest to Riverside Drive will have fireplaces with more seating with tables clustered next to Achatz Riverview Restaurant.
The back of the courtyard will arch in a half-moon shape with a pergola on each side, a fountain in the middle, and amphitheater style steps to sit on leading down to the grass.
Other communities that are trying for similar grants include Adrian, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Imlay City, Ironwood, Lansing, Marquette, Pontiac and Ypsilanti.
Projects vary from skate parks to art centers.
“The great thing about this program is it engages other communities in the program,” Griffor said. “The MEDC support really creates this buy-in for the courtyard.”
The grant is part of the Public Spaces, Community Places program, which is a collaborative effort of the MEDC, the Michigan Municipal League and Patronicity, where local residents can use crowd funding to be part of the development of strategic projects in their communities.
(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on March 4, 2015)