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The city of Sault Ste. Marie’s Moloney Alley PlacePlan considered the development of Moloney Alley in the heart of downtown Sault Ste. Marie. It was recognized by the community that Moloney Alley could serve as a downtown focal point, acting as a bridge between the Soo Locks tourist attractions and more traditional downtown uses. The Alley development project would also complement past and ongoing investments and partnerships fostered by the city in the effort to revitalize and enhance downtown Sault Ste. Marie.

Recognizing the DDA and community’s efforts following delivery of the PlacePlan, MML awarded the city follow-up assistance through a PlacePlans Implementation Grant in 2015. Matching funds were provided to the DDA to pursue the development of detailed marketing materials to recruit potential developers. The centerpiece of this effort was the development of a Developer Request for Qualifications (RFQ) package. The RFQ, developed by Kuntzsch Solutions of Lansing and Campbell Planning & Architecture of Northville, articulates a specific vision, agreed upon by the city and key property owners and stakeholders, for three properties adjacent to the Moloney Alley site. In addition to providing a detailed vision for future mixed-use development on these sites, the RFQ further refined the design for the overall Moloney Alley area as expressed in the PlacePlan. The RFQ was released in June 2016 and qualifications from potential developers are due August 31, 2016.

Cutting an L-shaped path across a 6.4-acre block in the city’s downtown, Moloney Alley provides rear entrances to businesses located on Front and Ashmun Streets, the city’s two main streets. The design plan, developed by the Michigan State University School of Planning, Design, and Construction, emphasized the creation of a public gathering space for the community that would generate interest and activity in the downtown core to strengthen the local economy. This space would include patio seating for adjacent restaurants, an activity plaza with a skating rink and stage, and space for both planned and spontaneous year-round activities. It would provide a visual and physical connection to other assets including the Soo Locks, the downtown, farmers markets, and shops and restaurants along Portage Avenue and Ashmun Street.

Following delivery of the PlacePlan in July 2013, the city capitalized on community support for the plan, resulting in the sale and rehabilitation of two buildings on the block that had once been eyesores. The city’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) additionally was awarded matching funds by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) for a Target Market Analysis (TMA) of potential demand for residential units downtown. The TMA found that the city’s downtown could support a yearly addition of between 36 and 54 urban format residential units over five years. With this in mind, the DDA began actively recruiting developers for several sites in the Moloney Alley area.

Sault Ste. Marie Moloney Alley Project Presentation

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