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Opinion: A positive sign for growth in DL

It’s a positive sign for Detroit Lakes that the city council is moving ahead with requests for proposals for the second phase of the downtown crossing development.

The Detroit Lakes Development Authority is seeking proposals for the piece of land that once housed Miguel’s restaurant.

The 2.6 acre site is located a block behind the new municipal liquor store, and the DLDA is welcoming proposals for one large development or two smaller ones on the piece of land.

The city hopes to attract retailers to the site, something that will draw traffic from Highway 10, said DLDA chair Mark Hagen.

“It’s an excellent piece of property,” he said.

The first phase of the downtown development has gone well — most stores in the Downtown Crossing area have been busy, and the influx of people into the area has also helped generate business for established downtown retailers on Washington Avenue.

The city liquor store has seen steady sales in its new location.

Caribou Coffee, which recently opened in Downtown Crossing, had the second-best opening week sales of any store in the 500-shop chain.

Only the Caribou Coffee shop at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport had better opening sales, out of stores in 16 states and a few other countries.

That should say something to developers about the potential of the Detroit Lakes area.

There are no shortage of potential customers at the newly-available site: Highway 10 last year saw average daily traffic of 16,100 cars.

There will be access to the property from Holmes Street and Frazee Street.

McKinley Avenue sees about 7,700 vehicles a day and Frazee Street has an average daily traffic of 11,000 cars.

“It’s pretty open ended” as to what could go in the space, Hagen said.

Things are looking up for Detroit Lakes for a number of reasons — good city management and planning is a big one.

A willingness to chip in and help the community is another. That was made clear with the success of the Detroit Lakes Community Center, built largely on donations from businesses and community members.

The same looks to be true with the Detroit Mountain project. Donated funds will be used to create a four-season park there.

The opportunity to have fun in the snow, on skis, snowboards and inner tubes, will draw a lot of people to Detroit Lakes in the wintertime.

The area is already a prime summer destination, with events happening every weekend all summer long.

The city is working to build bike trails and to bring in the Heartland Trail, which will eventually link Detroit Lakes to Moorhead and Park Rapids.

Potential retailers should be very interested in the potential of heavy winter tourism as well.

The local economy is doing well. Unemployment in Detroit Lakes is under 4 percent.

Foreclosures are way off their peak of a few years ago, and the housing market is starting to take off again.

The downtown development project is just one more attraction that will hopefully bring Detroit Lakes closer to its goal of being a busy year-round regional center.