THE PATH TO IMPROVE THE GATEWAYS TO HARBOR COUNTRY
Two of the main gateways into Harbor Country are Exit’s 1 and 4 off of I-94 as you enter the state of Michigan. Both areas are underdeveloped highway exchanges that are considered prime development locations. In 2016 New Buffalo Township began to look for solutions to promote and encourage community supported development that would result in a win-win for both the residents and developers alike. The community met, voiced their opinions and together recognized that successful communities over the next 20 years will be those that invest in the quality of life for their residents and businesses.
Out of this discussions came a plan that places high value on sustainability, parks, walkability, culture and being part of a community. It was clear that New Buffalo Township is fortunate to have many assets, but like many other communities, the Township is facing significant challenges.
• Declining tax revenues
• Lack of strong community identity (for example HarborCountry Drive does not reflect the identity of HarborCountry)
• Limited resources to make improvements to attract, manage and coordinate development
The plan calls for pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use Town Center developments in the corridors that are the gateways to Michigan. This will be accomplished by creating a Corridor Improvement Authority (CIA) which allows the use of tax increment financing to make capital improvements within an established commercial district. It allows communities that already have Downtown Development Authorities (DDAs) to extend similar benefits to aging commercial corridors outside the DDA district or that extend through more than one municipality.
Establishing a Corridor Improvement Authority (CIA) enables the Township to capture tax revenue that would otherwise be paid to the county. This revenue will be used to make improvements that we hope will attract and retain businesses and residences within the Township. Improving I94 and Harbor Country Drive to reflect the character of the community will reestablish New Buffalo as the Gateway of Michigan. The Township is in a unique position to leverage tax increment financing and other grants to make our community a more desirable place to live and work.
Click here to see the plan: New Buffalo CIA Vision Plan