The future of 300 acres of Mt. Pleasant property is gaining a clearer vision following a set of three focus groups hosted by the Central Michigan University Research Corporation.
Established in 1999, the CMURC was developed in conjunction between CMU and the city of Mt. Pleasant with the goal of developing a SmartZone, a unique designation between the two entities aimed at encouraging economic development.
“To make this a successful venture, we think that it’s just imperative that we have joint cooperation from the city and the university,” said Erin O’Brien, President and CEO of CMURC. “We felt it was important to get everybody involved in sort of the brainstorming phase ... get everybody involved from the beginning.”
O’Brien led a presentation Wednesday night detailing the history of the SmartZone, and elaborating on what other similar-sized universities were doing with their respective SmartZones.
There are 15 SmartZones in Michigan, she said, but Ohio University, Southern Illinois University and West Virginia University all had SmartZones with similar demographics to that of CMU.
Following the presentation, representatives from all areas of the community, from CMU to the city to small business owners, got together Wednesday night to talk about what they would like to see happen with the 300-acre parcel of land just south of the university.
A lot of it depends on what opportunities the land can actually support, O’Brien said.
O’Brien said the land would likely get a mixed-use facility approach, with larger buildings that could have anchor businesses as well as smaller storefronts.
There is also a potential for professional residential housing within the space as well.
Steven Johnson, Vice President of Enrollment and Student Services, said that with the spike in international students at CMU, CMURC could look at developing a facility that would cater more toward diverse crowds.
Riaan Anthony, director of recreation and sports for the city of Mt. Pleasant, said that because the city is also working to redevelop the 300-acre parcel of property where the Mt. Pleasant Center currently stands, he would be interested in taking some of the ideas back to the city.
Participants were interested in retail incubators and organic and health food hubs as well.
O’Brien said CMURC will compile all of the information it got out of the focus groups and then look at recommendations and create renderings for possible uses of the space