Niles, Michigan...the City of four flags!

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Niles Main Street

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Niles: A Michigan Main Street Community
Meet the Director
Cultural Economic Development Plan

Hunter Ice Festival
Downtown Design Guidelines
Niles Market Profiles
Riverfront Park, Leave a Legacy


DowntownWhat is Niles Main Street?

The City of Niles’ Main Street Initiative (formerly the Downtown Development Authority) was created in 1978 by the implementation of Ordinance No. 251 of the Niles City Code of Ordinances. The Niles Main Street was given all the powers and duties prescribed under the State of Michigan Public Act No. 197 of 1975 which read in part, " . . . an act to provide for the establishment of a downtown development authority; to prescribe its powers and duties; to correct and prevent deterioration in business districts; to encourage historic preservation; to authorize the acquisition and disposal of interests in real and personal property; to authorize the creation and implementation of development plans in the districts; to promote the economic growth of the districts; to create a board; to prescribe its power and duties; to authorize the levy and collection of taxes; to authorize the issuance of bond and other evidences of indebtedness; and to authorize the use of tax increment financing."

NILES MAIN STREET DDA
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Niles Main Street DDA is the organization that brings beautiful decorations and Christmas lights to our downtown.  

If you see an event with horse-drawn carriages for all to enjoy. . . it's a Niles Main Street DDA event. 


If you see a crowd gathering downtown or. . . 


You see an ice carver hard at work. . . 


It's a Niles Main Street DDA event


If you see Dragon Boats racing down the St. Joseph River or . . . 


If you see Mrs. Claus and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer waving as you pass by, it's a Niles Main Street DDA event


If you see wonderful flowers downtown or . . . 


If you see others enjoying a summer day at the  French Market, stop by and enjoy it too cause that's a Niles Main Street DDA event. 

Please remember to thank them for all they do for our community.  For more information on downtown activities, check the community calendar on this website or contact Niles Main Street at 269-687-4332 or via email.

Niles Main Street has many functions, which it carries out under the discretion of and for the City of Niles. Niles Main Street is made up of nine (9) area citizens and business professionals who each serve 4-year terms on the board. They are charged with facilitating the redevelopment plan of the downtown area. This plan is considered a "work in progress", and was revised in 1988 and again in 1998. The plan includes many interrelated concepts and ideas. The following is a summary of some of those redevelopment plans and ideas, many of which have already been completed and others that are on going.

Increased residential density in downtown Niles

  • Increased density in the downtown area is beneficial to the City in a number of ways. The increased population provides an improved customer base for downtown business, supports economic expansion and an improved tax base.

  • The residential population in the downtown area additionally provides "eyes on the park" to increase security and provide for a safe ‘"pedestrian-friendly" environment in the newly developed Riverfront Park and the rest of the downtown area.

Development of publicly and privately owned land

  • Assisting the City with the purchase and sale of real properties from/to both public and private developers securing a redevelopment mindset and economic conditions that facilitate the continual redevelopment of the area.

  • Niles Main Street may enter into a limited partnership with a developer of real property. Niles Main Street may retain ownership of the project while the developer acts as the general contractor to build and market the property.

Increased Commercial Development in downtown Niles

  • Increased commercial development strengthens the city’s tax base and draws more people to the downtown area.

  • Commercial development is achieved through the construction of new commercial buildings and the renovations/reuse of buildings that are presently vacant, or economically underutilized.

  • Niles Main Street also has a marketing director to assist with the sale/lease of vacant properties in the downtown area.

Improved Streetscapes

  • Improved streetscapes help to make the downtown area more pedestrian friendly and a more "walkable" area.

  • Streetscape improvements have included wider sidewalks, benches, lighting, stone flower planters and improved landscaping.

  • A program of parking lot maintenance and improvements has been in place since the mid 80’s. On going programs that include sealing, striping and landscaping city parking lots to make it easier for visitors to park and just walk the downtown area to enjoy shopping. All city parking lots provide free parking.

  • Improvements to all intersections including, widening, striping and other changes to make intersections safer and friendlier.

  • Recent improvements to the streets and roadways have been made by changing the street striping format and traffic lanes to slow vehicles and make it easier for shoppers to park on the street.

  • Most streetscape improvements are facilitated as joint, coordinated cooperative efforts between the Michigan Department of Transportation, the City’s Engineering, Street and Utilities departments, and Niles Main Street.

Riverfront Park

  • Riverfront Park is the only city park in the Niles Main Street district. Niles Main Street has served as the lead developer of Riverfront Park and works with the Park and Recreation Board in a shared, ongoing responsibility to address maintenance and programming issues at the park.

  • The project has spanned many years from the original property acquisition in the late ‘80’s and new features are added on a regular basis to attract citizens and visitors to the downtown area.

  • Riverfront Park and its features are entirely handicapped accessible. It is recognized as a recreational jewel by citizens and visitors that enjoy it’s varied venues. Among those visitors have been the National Canoe and Kayak Association.

  • Riverfront park sports a marked walking/biking trail, a fishing pier, picnic areas, an amphitheater and a large children’s play area to name just a few of it’s amenities.

  • A new boat dock in the park and on the St. Joseph River was completed in 2001.

These are just some of the many responsibilities of Niles Main Street. To learn more, contact the Niles Main Street’s Director of Marketing and Administration by email  or by telephone at 269-687-4332. The Niles Main Street fax number is 269-687-6332.
 

Back To TopNiles: A Michigan Main Street Community


The architectural detail and historical significance of downtown buildings is now available for all to see and enjoy.

~Niles Main Street ~
Mission Statement

"The purpose of Niles Main Street is to enhance our community identity and heritage, foster a center of activity and ensure economic stability for the heart of downtown Niles through broad based community support."

Since January 2001, Niles has been working a program for downtown revitalization utilizing the National Main Street Center's (NMSC) Four Point Approach to commercial district revitalization, along with their eight guiding principles: 1) creating a comprehensive, 2) incremental, 3) self-help program focusing on 4) the development of partnerships, 5) using history as an asset, 6) quality projects, 7) changing attitudes and practices, and finally 8) implementation...making a difference today.

This inclusive and results driven methodology has been utilized by the NMSC to create independent, self-sustaining Main Street Programs in over 1500 small cities and towns throughout the country over the past 20+ years.

Main Street programs are volunteer-driven, with broad-based community support. The Niles Main Street board of directors and various committee members represent a cross-section of Niles community stakeholders.


The picture above shows three views of the same building in the 200 block of downtown.  First picture shows early 1900 photo, then 1950s and 2003 with aluminum storefront facade coverings.

Initial activities sought to create highly visible projects that had immediate impact in the district, such as the facade improvements, streetscape upgrades, and promotional events.

Now that revitalization efforts are maturing, downtown has begun the process of conducting market analysis for the purpose of developing an appropriate marketing plan, business mix, as well as to identify market gaps and encourage business retention, expansion and attraction to occur.

Niles Main Street is ready to grow. In order to accomplish all we can, we need your help. At Niles Main Street there are jobs that last one hour and committees you can work with for years! If you are interested in getting involved with the program, read about the four committees and their 2005 plans to see what interests you. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to call 269-687-4332 or e-mail us.

The Main Street approach to downtown revitalization is based on the following four points:
D
esign, Organization, Economic Restructuring, and Promotion.


Black wrought iron fencing, designer lamp posts and matching trash cans highlight new brick sidewalks, flower planters and street/curb improvements.

Design takes advantage of the visual opportunities inherent in the commercial district by directing attention to the improvement of all its physical elements: public and private buildings, store fronts, signs, public spaces, landscaping, merchandising, window displays, parking and traffic circulation. Its aim is to stress the importance of quality design in all of these areas, to educate people about design issues, and to expedite design improvements in the district. The Design committees' goal is to work to provide design assistance to property owners, promote downtown's architectural history and undertake some public improvements. 2005 will be a busy year, as the committee works with the Michigan State Historic Preservation office to explore the potential of designating the Main Street district a National Historic District. Other projects include the development of Window Design and Merchandising programs as well as working to define and develop a Directional Signage System.

Organization establishes consensus and cooperation by building partnerships among the various groups that have a stake in the commercial district. Through these partnerships, the Main Street revitalization program is able to provide effective, ongoing management and advocacy of the district. Diverse groups from the public and private sectors (city government, banks, merchants, merchant organizations, civic associations, property owners, community leaders and others) must work together to maintain a successful program. The Organization committee will be focusing on developing a Main Street Membership program, as well as coordinating volunteers. This committee will also partner with the Promotions Committee to explore the development of another program fund raising event. Lastly, the Organization committee will begin to develop a speaker's bureau in order to educate the community about Main Street.

Niles DDA Main Street is ready to grow.  In order to accomplish all we can, we need your help.  At DDA Niles Main Street there are jobs that last one hour and committees you can work with for years!

Economic Restructuring strengthens the district's existing economic base. This is accomplished by retaining and expanding existing businesses to provide a balance commercial mix, by converting unused or underutilized space into productive property, and by sharpening the competitiveness and merchandising skills of the commercial district's business owners. The Economic Restructuring committee will be using the market study prepared by a company called Downtown Professional Network, which works through the Michigan Main Street program to identify market opportunities, develop programs to strengthen the current district, and recruit new businesses to the district.

Promotion takes many forms, but the goal is to rekindle community pride in the commercial district and change people's attitudes from negative to positive. Promotion increases sales through special retail events, brings new audiences to the district for festivals and celebrations, and builds the district's image through marketing campaigns. All of these activities serve not only to attract shoppers, but also attract investors, developers, and new businesses. The Promotions committee is responsible for the January Hunter Ice Festival, the May Celebration Auction, the June Garage Barrage, the November Decorate Downtown for the Holidays, and the December Holiday Homecoming, as well as the Blooming Bridges Project. This year, they will be developing additional special events, new retail promotions and downtown marketing activities.

If you'd liked to learn more about the program, call our office at 269-687-4332 to set up a time to meet with someone and talk a little more in-depth about what we do and see where might be the best place for you to help Niles realize the Vision Statement that "Downtown Niles is a vibrant, exciting, inviting and a welcoming place to live, work, learn, shop and play."

Downtown revitalization requires the cooperation and commitment of a broad-based coalition of public and private groups. The current Downtown Niles Revitalization Project and Niles Main Street are a result of cooperation and partnerships developed between the City of Niles, the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (MiSHPO), Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC), the Greater Niles Community Development Corporation (GNCDC), the Four Flags Area Chamber of Commerce, downtown business and property owners, local foundations such as the Hunter Foundation and the Plym Foundation and countless volunteers from the greater Niles community.

Back To TopMeet the Director

Lisa Croteau is the Director of Marketing and Administration for Niles Main Street (formerly the Downtown Development Authority). Lisa’s primary responsibilities are to act as a facilitator in the marketing of theLisa Croteau, Downtown Marketing Director downtown area, and to serve as the administrative liaison between the Niles Main Street board of directors and the merchants and property owners in the Niles Main Street district. As an employee of Niles Main Street, the Director of Marketing and Administration works with downtown merchants to implement ideas that will improve customer satisfaction, attract shoppers, create economic vitality and promote new business locating to the downtown.

If you would like information and assistance and are considering opening a new business in Niles, please call Lisa. She can provide you with all the information you need on existing space for lease or purchase as well as provide information on available property for any new developments. The Niles Main Street office can assist individuals with almost every aspect of starting a new business, expanding an existing business and/or direct you to other agencies in the area. Niles Main Street can also provide statistical, demographic and geographical information that will help you to decide what location may be best for your business. Please call the Niles Main Street office for more information at 269-687-4332.

Back To Top
Riverfront Park, Leave a Legacy

Riverfront Park PlaylandWhen you purchase a tree, bench, bike rack, engraved paving brick, grilles, etc. for placement in the Niles Riverfront Park, or make a donation, you help fund the future growth of the park.  Your contribution will serve as a building brick in the foundation of Niles' future.

This document is available to view in PDF format. If you would like to contribute, you can click here to view/print a Riverfront Park Form.  This form shows the various ways you can contribute. 

Pictured here are just a few of the things your donation can buy.

Brick Paver
Brick Paver
$50 minimum

 

Brick Paver
Brick Paver
Up to 3 lines of text

 

Six Foot Wrought Iron Park Bench
Six Foot Wrought Iron Park Bench
$750

 

Ten Foot Wrought Iron Park Bench
Ten Foot Wrought Iron Park Bench
$1,250

 

Wrought Iron Picnic Table
Wrought Iron Picnic Table
$2,200

 

Picnic Table
Picnic Table
$250

 

Charcoal Grill
Charcoal Grill
$175
Bike Rack Loops
Bike Rack Loop (six shown)
$50 each

 

Back To TopDowntown Niles Market Study 

The Downtown Niles Market Study is available to view in Adobe Acrobat .pdf format.  Make a selection below by clicking a brochure:

MarketProfile1111  MktProfileV