Marquette’s Baraga Avenue two-day charrette was aptly summarized by one participant as, “… a great process, synthesizing the idealistic with the pragmatic.”
Baraga Avenue’s location as the first primary street entering Marquette’s downtown and situated across from continuing well-planned and exciting developments at Founder’s Landing along popular Lakeshore Drive and the Spring Street bike/pedestrian pathway, makes this location a certain future hot-spot.
Historically the main street to the hub of industrial activities, Baraga Avenue is wide and its eclectic mix of trendy specialty shops, museum district and light industrial, leading to the city’s governmental center, is currently surrounded by a sea of concrete and asphalt. This creates an unappealing first impression and discourages pedestrian traffic. While only a couple blocks removed from the principal shopping area on Washington and Front Streets and a mere block from the Farmers Market and other event sites–the relatively bleak surroundings do not entice people to Baraga.
Much discussion from business owners and stakeholders has centered around maintaining views of the waterfront, creating an entrance signaling to people that they have “arrived”, traffic calming, encouraging outdoor dining and inviting seating areas where passersby will see more activity, providing a more obvious connection between the Children’s Museum and the History Museum, public art displays, “greening” up the area, creating more inviting connections to the downtown and waterfront with potential wind protection, and incorporating design features that honor the area’s original historical purpose and heritage. There are also some great potential sites for exciting mixed-use development. Â Baraga Ave. is definitely the spot to watch.
The energy of the first visioning session carried through to the two-day charrette as stakeholders engaged in lively discussion, listened with open minds, were ever respectful and offered incredibly creative suggestions. Â A summarized list of the feedback loop from the first days’ session is as follows:
- Respect and enhance working waterfront and views
- Include public art that is reflective of Marquette
- Create a sense of arrival and pedestrian enhancements at the intersection of Front & Baraga
- Enhance mid-block connections between Baraga and the downtown
- Incorporate a stormwater management system as a functional and artistic natural feature
- Encourage pedestrian activity and outdoor eating
- Develop first floor retail on the parking structure
- Provide a unified streetscape character while respecting functional needs of businesses and snow removal
- Refine site furnishings and street elements to reflect Marquetteâ€™s history and character
- Provide bicycle parking and access to the non-motorized network
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