A New Vision for Downtown Traverse City

In early 2022, the DDA Board of Directors hired Progressive Urban Management Associates (PUMA), a nationally renowned consulting agency with extensive experience in downtown visioning. Their study and the process connected to was named Moving Downtown Forward. The final Moving Downton Forward plan (see below) identifies priorities for downtown public infrastructure projects and services as well as guiding principles that will serve as a framework for future DDA resource allocation and investment decisions. The plan also includes a detailed market assessment, documentation of community interests and priorities, an examination of the DDA’s operational structure and financial model, recommendations for future governance and financing tools and actions the DDA will take in the coming months and years.

For more detail about the goals and purpose of the study, read the FAQ section below.

Final Report

To read the final report approved by the DDA board in December, click HERE.

Public Engagement

Citizens gathered at the City Opera House for an open house session in June.

This strategic plan was created through an extensive extensive stakeholder and community engagement process, with input from nearly 1,300 community members across multiple public meetings and a detailed survey.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Moving Downtown Forward?

Moving Downtown Forward is a thorough examination and evaluation of the current and future needs of downtown, as well as the organizational and funding structure of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA).

What is the goal of this study?

The goal is to identify priorities and improvements for downtown along with an organizational and funding structure that is best equipped to meet the needs of downtown and the region well into the future.

Who’s conducting the study?

The DDA’s board of directors hired Progressive Urban Management Associates (PUMA) to conduct the study. PUMA is a nationally respected consulting agency that helps communities/downtowns achieve a variety of goals tied to economic development, organizational management and more. Of particular appeal to the DDA is PUMA’s extensive experience working with downtown development authorities (and related organizations) to help them evolve. PUMA has helped ensure that these organizations meet the needs and achieve the long-term visions of their communities.
PUMA is also working closely with Parallel Solutions to facilitate community engagement. Parallel Solutions is a Traverse City-based firm with considerable experience in organizational development and strategy, along with a proven track record of stakeholder engagement and meeting facilitation.

What will the study entail?

PUMA, assisted by DDA staff and board, will first thoroughly examine the DDA’s current organizational and funding mechanisms and prepare a robust community engagement plan. Then, a detailed market assessment completed by PUMA will allow their team to fully understand the economic and social factors that are shaping downtown. This step also involves broad outreach with downtown stakeholders and community members.

The third step involves evaluating how the DDA (as structured now) is responding to the current and projected future needs of downtown. This step closely analyzes funding mechanisms in an attempt to find a model that is effective, equitable and sustainable. Finally, the fourth step will synthesize all the gathered information and provide recommendations on a preferred organizational and funding structure moving forward, along with a transition plan and the identification of benchmarks for success.

From whom will PUMA gather input?

The DDA and PUMA understand that this process can’t be completed without detailed input from a wide variety of downtown and community stakeholders. PUMA will conduct interviews with property owners, business owners, residents from downtown and adjacent neighborhoods, downtown employees, other community residents, local real estate professionals and city leaders.

How long will this study take?

The process began in May and will run through September.

What will the DDA do with the results of the study?

Once the study is completed, the DDA and city will determine how to implement the recommendations. 

Who can answer other questions about this process?

Please call or email DDA Chief Executive Officer Jean Derenzy at (231) 922-2050 or jean@downtowntc.com

Additional Resources

CLICK HERE for a presentation that will was given to the DDA board on Sept. 16, 2022.

CLICK HERE for an informative presentation on this project provided at a pair of open houses on Jun 22.

CLICK HERE for a report on the results of a community survey distributed this summer.