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Downtown lighting concept comes into focus

Rendering of food truck hub proposed as part of a downtown lighting initiative. Wolfe Makes Art/City of Sturgis

By Dennis Volkert

For the past few years, Sturgis Downtown Development Authority and business owners in the city have explored a concept to light downtown buildings and surrounding areas.
DDA assessed several options to support the project through grant funding. It led to expansion of the scope of the project, to match the theme of “The Electric City.” The project is expected to be a collaboration with downtown building-owners.
In May, Jeff Coney, community development specialist, provided an overview of the project for city commissioners.
The core of the initiative involves LED lighting to accent the skyline of downtown along Chicago Road.
Additional elements are envisioned.
One is a food-truck hub near Sturges-Young Center for the Arts. It would involve electric hook-up, an outdoor seating area and upgrades to the pump house, such as lighting, murals and paint.
Another is creation of “Electric Alley,” near the rear entrance of Five Lakes Coffee. It may feature seating, lighted attractions and art displays.
An additional touch: QR codes posted at public art and historical sites throughout downtown. Codes would link to the DDA website, with an interactive map to encourage exploration of sites within the district.
The project’s funding is expected to come through grant support and community donations. Franks Fund chose to support the project with a gift of more than $125,000.
Community members also will be able to donate through Patronicity. Those donations will be matched by the state up to $50,000.
DDA has received approval to use grant funding from Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s public spaces allocation. That provides a $50,000 grant to communities that are able to raise $50,000 in donations. DDA is working to solicit interested owners of properties and businesses to meet that amount.
MEDC’s public spaces category grant was used for the splash pad at Thurston Woods Park, and Sturgis Bark Park.
The city is not required to provide any financial support, but must provide permission for use of the alley and parking lot for the food hub.

Rendering of
“Electric Alley.”

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