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Chelsea DDA votes for programs to assist downtown businesses

The Chelsea Downtown Development Authority (DDA) at its May 21 Zoom meeting took steps to assist downtown businesses while owners plan for new Covid 19 restrictions and get ready to reopen.

Members discussed allowing outdoor seating in public parking lots or in current roadside parking spaces for downtown restaurants that would help them return to business and increase capacity while keeping all new guidelines for their diner’s safety.

The state has instituted special temporary alcohol licenses for establishments allowing them the ability to serve alcohol outdoor at tables within 25-feet of an entrance so these space restrictions must also be adhered to. 

Phil Tolliver of Smokehouse BBQ 52 approached city staff to discuss possible options on Park Street that might allow his restaurant to return to business at close to 100-percent capacity within the new Covid 19 safety guidelines – when indoor and outdoor seating options were combined.

DDA board members discussed possible locations for many of the downtown restaurants, including Smokehouse BBQ 52, Common Grill, Mike’s Deli, Zou Zou’s, Chelsea Alehouse, and Cleary’s Pub.

Further down M-52 in the DDA district, Jet’s Pizza and the planned new restaurant “Grateful Crow” also are formulating an outdoor seating plan but are located in a private parking lot.

The DDA voted to send a request to the Chelsea City Council for allowing temporary use of public parking for outdoor seating for restaurants through Nov. 1. The request also included that the restaurants would be responsible for cleaning the area. The city would provide seating, fencing and other safety features, such as signage if needed.  

(The city is looking at possible locations that are not along M-52 because of the  MDOT restrictions along a state highway.)

The DDA also discussed and approved the free use of Palmer Commons as a possible outdoor retail and office market — something similar to pop up shops – through Jan. 1, 2021. Any plan would have to adhere to all new safety guidelines.

Both requests will be sent to the City Council for approval at its June 1 regular meeting.

DDA members held a lengthy discussion about ideas for marketing for the city both as businesses prepare to open and able to open again. For the next three months, the DDA voted to assist the Chelsea Area Chamber of Commerce with $1,500 a month for the next three months to purchase a series of advertisements on MLive through a grant match proposal.

Julia Upfal announced a new crowd sourcing program for small businesses through the MEDC (Michigan Economic Development Corporation) and Patronicity that can be found at and businesses can sign up to participate through May 28.

Here’s a description from the website: In response to the COVID-19 crisis, The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, in conjunction with the Detroit-based crowdfunding platform, Patronicity, has developed “MI Local Biz”, a creative funding mechanism to offer quick access to capital for small local businesses in this great time of need. The MEDC will match crowdfunding raises on a 1:1 basis up to $5,000 for eligible small businesses experiencing economic challenges as a result of COVID-19.

Chelsea Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Terris Ahrens said the chamber is planning a Restaurant Week and Saturday events to assist businesses once they are able to reopen.

If you would listen to listen to the full meeting, please click here.


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1 thought on “Chelsea DDA votes for programs to assist downtown businesses”

  1. Thank you Chelsea for thinking creatively in order to assist local businesses. I look forward to seeing how we will move forward to overcome our current challenges. Chelsea is truly ‘Something Else.’

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