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12/25/2013 12:01:00 AM
Excerpt from Draft Harbor Springs Master Plan: Ideas for Implementation

Excerpted from Draft Harbor Springs Master Plan, Nov. 2013


The population of Harbor Springs is aging, and has been in slight decline since 2000. In addition, being a resort town significantly affects the population consistency in the off-season. A significant number of residents are empty-nesters and retirees, and therefore, by focusing on this age range's lifestyle needs, Harbor Springs can encourage community development that promotes vibrant, lively, and healthy lifestyles for people of all ages.

Issue: The population of Harbor Springs is aging, with most residents being of middle age or older.

Asset: The Downtown is comprised of an attractive historic district and boasts waterfront views. Harbor Springs is conveniently located to area amenities while still retaining its quaintness and charm.


- Focus housing development in the downtown district by encouraging upscale, amenity-driven housing units marketed towards empty-nesters and retirees.

- Encourage mixed-use housing development where possible in the downtown area.

- Support walkability and complete streets by strengthening connections between existing neighborhoods and the downtown.

- Establish passive parks and open spaces that offer outdoor dining amenities, restrooms, easily accessed walking paths, and good lighting.

Issue: Harbor Springs would like to diversify the population by being more attractive to young professionals.

Asset: The Downtown is comprised of an attractive historic district and boasts waterfront views with excellent recreational opportunities. In addition, Harbor Springs is located 10 miles from Northern Michigan Hospital.


- Develop a marketing campaign to reach professionals at the hospital, possibly consider options for living in the City.

- Encourage adaptive reuse of existing historic buildings for redeveloped housing units marketed towards the creative class and students.

- Develop live/work studio spaces at affordable rates that optimize "affordable lakefront living".

- Encourage walkability and bikeability by increasing biking infrastructure in the downtown area to include ample bike parking, bike lanes, sharrows on roads, and covered bike shelters in recreational areas.


The Downtown Vision Plan, which was adopted in August 2012 recommends that the City explore several options for achieving the consensus goals for Harbor Springs. The most pressing goals were to create a more year round economy, provide a wider range of goods and services downtown, bring in more entertainment options for around the clock activity, review the current parking requirements to make them more visitor friendly, increase residency downtown, and diversify the range of housing choices.

Issue: The Downtown is not activated in the off-season and during evening hours.

Asset: The Downtown is comprised of an attractive historic district and boasts waterfront views.


- Refocus Downtown as a four seasons, all hours destination for people of all ages by establishing a joint marketing association to share the costs of hosting special events such as farmers markets, art, and cultural activities in the city center.

- Organize historic downtown walking or bus tours in support of preserving historical buildings and districts during the off-season. Heritage tourism plays a major role in reviving dying downtown areas, notes Michael Burayidi in the November 2010 "Downtown Idea Exchange" article entitled "A New Four-Point Strategy for Downtown Renewal."

- Install bike racks to attract cyclists. Show support for pedestrian friendly initiatives by riding your bike downtown or walking.

- Devise a targeted marketing campaign that attracts the attention of visitors to the Old Mission Peninsula and Leelanau Wine tours and trails


The quality and function of the downtown is often determined by how well the characteristics of the public facilities function to serve residents and visitors alike. The master plan provides a desired framework for ensuring that public facilities and services are continually updated and improved to maintain current uses and to recognize new opportunities.

Issue: - The waterfront on East Bay Street, where State Street ends, is currently occupied by parking lots and single- use recreational tennis courts.

Asset: The waterfront is an excellent location for public recreation development.


- Determine the current parking needs and assess whether or not there are alternative places for public parking.

- Host a simulation event where the parking lots are converted into temporary uses such as an eating plaza, a children's playground, filled with landscaping and benches, or set up for a farmer's market. Gauge community interest and feedback as to the most favorable alternative.

- Explore potential designs and amenity offerings of a multi-use recreational area in place of the tennis courts, thinking about opportunities for all seasons and accessibility for all users

Related Stories:
• City updating Master Plan; Vision for where community is headed

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