Alpena has seen its downtown area grow in the last couple of years, and 2022 was no different. More new buildings and restaurants have made their way to the northeast Michigan area recently, modernizing the small beach town in rapid fashion.
Despite having a rough start to the year with inflation and rising interest rates, Alpena had a strong year in terms of developing new projects.
“Overall, I’d say 2022, given the way the year started out, in terms of just cost of living and everything else just looking so negative, a lot of good things still came to light in 2022,” says Mike Mahler, the Economic Development Director for the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce.
Mahler helps developers find property and support for their projects. He recapped 2022 and mentioned all the new things that were able to come up, including the new Starbucks and the WellNow Urgent Care Center. Mahler agreed that the area is modernizing fast.
“You look downtown, you look at how much – there’s really no empty space, there’s a lot of business that want to be downtown but there’s no space for them, it wasn’t that way 10 years ago,” he said. “There was vacancies in our downtown, now we’ve got several great restaurants, got the social district in place, a lot of things that make our downtown more attractive.”
One of the most important projects on Mahler’s plate for 2023 is putting in new apartments for people to stay, as well as more retail. He says they’ve received a five million dollar grant to be able to put those things into motion.
“A lot more people want to live in our downtown, because there’s a lot more going on today, so that was certainly a significant win for us last year,” he said.
As Alpena continues to grow, more projects and new ways to develop the area are coming through the pipeline. They’re prepping for new things like a potential Culligan Plaza re–do, as well as the opening of the Sanctuary Cinema, expected in the summer.
There’s a lot on Mahler’s plate for 2023, but after a successful 2022, he’s ready for the challenge.