For St. Clair Shores, the water’s the lure (slide show)
BY RACHEL ZYNEL
OU News Bureau
Gateway to the Great Lakes.
The Leisure Boat Capital of the World.
These are just a few of the nicknames St. Clair Shores has earned, with its docks, harbors and waterfront parks stretching up and down the city.
City Manager Ben Hughes says features such as these make St. Clair Shores an exciting, destination city.
“Lake St. Clair is on our front yard,” he said. “What makes us unique is the wonderful lake, with marinas and public parks that make us accessible to that lake.”
According to Hughes, with more than 59,000 residents and 26,000 homes, the city is first and foremost a residential community. It’s a place people come home to after work to raise families.
While the city lost about 3,000 residents between the 2000 and 2010 U.S. Census, Hughes says it’s a city with a bright future, whose population is expected to grow.
The city relies on its natural resources and many amenities to kick-start this comeback. A public library, golf course and swimming pool, along with strong police and fire departments are just a few points of attraction Hughes point to — especially during a time when many cities have been forced to cut back.
Encompassing more than 11 square miles, St. Clair Shores is a city that blends suburban living with small-town charm. A strong network of independent businesses line the city’s main roads.
“It’s the individual, family-run business,” Hughes said. “We don’t have big box retailers, we don’t have a Home Depot. We have independent hardware stores, bakeries. Family run places that have character, that are employing local people.”
The Nautical Mile, running from 9 Mile to 10 Mile on Jefferson Avenue, is brimming with these independent shops and businesses, while bringing together business, recreation and housing.
Mike’s on the Water, a family run restaurant, is one such business. This lakeside burger bar opened a year ago. According to owner Mike LeFevre, it brings a new restaurant dimension to the Nautical Mile. It’s that location on The Mile, he says, that helps keep traffic coming to Mike’s – and to the city.
“Water is liquid gold,” LeFevre said. “It adds years to your life, it’s serenity. Everyone likes to see the water. They’ll come to see the water, the boats, the fresh breeze. You own property on the water, it’s liquid gold.”
LeFevre, like Hughes, also sees potential in the city. He plans to expand his restaurant, adding more bar and deck seating. To LeFevre, there’s no reason to stop — he says expanding shows you’re busy and keeps people talking.
“People draw people, cars draw cars,” LeFevre said. “If others are busy, I’m busy. People don’t stay in one place, they rotate around. Boat traffic in the peak of the summer comes from marina to marina.”
The boating community is a vital resource for LeFevre during the summer. He cites about 5 percent of his business from boat traffic off Lake St. Clair.
From the sailboat-shaped clock tower to the many marine themed restaurants and businesses throughout the city, St. Clair Shores has nurtured this nautical image for itself.
- For a slide show on St. Clair Shores, CLICK HERE.
The city boasts of natural beauty outstretching just Lake St. Clair, however. With more than 230 acres dedicated to parks and recreation, the city offers a variety of outdoor resources.
Residents and long-time friends Elizabeth Alliston and Monika Saladiak grew up there. They say having these parks is a valuable, day-to-day resource.
“I feel so lucky to have grown up with all these waterfront parks right in my backyard,” Alliston said. “The parks, the marinas … living here, it’s something you can’t help but take advantage of.”
Places such as Veterans Memorial Park and Wahby Park & Blossom Heath, along Jefferson Avenue, are just two of the many parks residents can enjoy along the waterfront. These parks also offer many community programs and events.
Memorial Park is the site of the city’s “Concerts in the Park,” a series of free concerts throughout the summer on Wednesday nights.
Wahby Park & Blossom Heath is locally known as the place for pictures.
“Nearly everyone in the Shores has gone to Blossom Heath to take pictures once,” Saladiak said. “Weddings, proms, dances — everyone takes their pictures here. It’s also just a great place to see the lake, take a walk, relax.”
It’s this easy-going lifestyle, along with the natural resources, that Hughes believes will help the city grow.
“Living next to a wonderful lake, having all the full services that many places in Michigan do not provide … St. Clair Shores is well positioned as a desirable and affordable place to live,” he said.
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