We've yet to witness the last days of summer 2013, but much of "how Traverse City spent its summer and what we learned" has already been written. Here's The Ticker's take:
1. Wineries are growing like vines. Area wineries now number some 35, and our bet is that each and every one of them -- including the newest – are experiencing record tasting room traffic and sales this summer. “In July, we saw approximately 26 percent more visitors to the tasting room,” says Patrick Brys of Old Mission’s Brys Estate. Next on the menu is Bonobo, soon to open on Old Mission Peninsula. Other proposed wineries are in the planning stages.
2. The National Cherry Festival will not begin in June again. Executive Director Trevor Tkach says the 2013 Cherry Fest’s dates were set at the request of the city and were intended to spur early traffic, but downtown retailers have let their opinions be known: the two big Cherry Festival weekends should always take place in July.
3. Tragedy brings us together and spurs action. The deaths of Kelly Boyce and Bryan Crough, though under very different circumstances, have brought the citizens of the region together in much the same way. Boyce’s and Crough’s legacies are about what they did while living, yet the attention now paid to the City Opera House and a vibrant downtown thanks to Crough is tangible just as we are more conscious than ever about biker- and pedestrian friendly streets in the wake of Boyce’s tragic death.
4. TC loves movies. Once again the Traverse City Film Festival sold more tickets, showed more movies, and attracted more visitors than in previous years. The TC Film Fest, along with the opening of a second art house theatre in the downtown district with The Bijou, the national accolades the State Theatre has garnered, and the other fantastic theatres surrounding Traverse City in Frankfort and Suttons Bay, mean that it’s time our town said what’s become obvious: we’re a movie town.
5. Traffic alternatives are likely on the way. If you’ve driven in Traverse City the past two months, you’re likely ready to dust-off plans for a Hartman-Hammond Bridge or some other solution that will alleviate traffic in and around downtown TC. Planners say Traverse City’s transportation infrastructure was not built to handle anywhere near today’s capacities…and more is coming.
6. It’s not easy being green. A private developer is trying to clean a contaminated industrial site to make way for an upscale hotel. Downtown TC wants to be a clean city that recycles. And city officials were hoping for a spectacular, family-friendly waterscape in Clinch Park. But in all three instances, something got in the way. The growing pains of a city on the grow were apparent this summer.
7. Safety on the water is going to get more attention. Lake Michigan waters off Leelanau County have claimed three lives, and Twin Lakes and Long Lake have seen terrible water tragedies this summer. Meanwhile, the Coast Guard reports Boating Under the Influence citations are up in 2013. Expect a heightened awareness by police, boaters, and swimmers to continue.
8. We are officially on the airlines’ “radar.” Cherry Capital Airport passenger traffic is up big again this summer. American, United, and Delta are bringing larger aircraft and more flights to town. This year alone, United added Newark service; Delta bolstered its New York City service and increased flights from Atlanta; and United added direct hub service to and from Cleveland. Looking to potentially expand further, an American representative visited Traverse City last month; United representatives are slated to come to town in early October. What’s it all mean? More flights, more visitors, more competition…and lower fares.