MI: Saginaw transit outgrows location, looks to develop Potter Street neighborhood

Nov. 10, 2023
After a year-long study, the Saginaw Transit Authority Regional Services has seemingly found its new home at the Potter Street Station.

SAGINAW, MI — After a year-long study, the Saginaw Transit Authority Regional Services has seemingly found its new home at the Potter Street Station.

STARS has outgrown its current location at 615 Johnson St., said Glenn Steffens, its executive director. The group has explored three potential sites for relocation – the Davenport/ I-675 area, Genesee Street near Saginaw United, the city’s new high school under construction at 1903 N. Niagara St. and the Potter Street Station, Steffens said.

The Davenport and Genesee Street locations were deemed less suitable due to the presence of railroad tracks, which would slow down bus departures. Steffens said, adding that these options would cost about $70 million.

While that is cheaper than the $100-million Potter Street Station plan, Steffens said federal grants available for restoring historic sites could result in a less pricey investment from STARS and potential local stakeholders.

Before STARS can proceed with its plans, including the acquisition of the Potter Street Station, currently owned by the nonprofit Saginaw Depot Preservation Corporation, it must undergo a one- to two-year National Environmental Protection Act study, Steffens said.

In renderings presented during the Monday, Nov. 6, Saginaw City Council meeting, Steffens outlined aspects of the Potter Street project to update the council.

The plan includes construction of a multi-level parking ramp across the street from the proposed bus station at 501 Potter St., and the integration of a mixed-use storefront that will cater to the Saginaw community, Steffens said, adding that STARS officials envision a daycare facility and a grocery store as part of this development.

The incorporation of these amenities could significantly reduce trip times, potentially saving residents on the STARS system up to 90 minutes in commuting time, Steffens said.

The study included an examination of the structural integrity of the Potter Street Station building, which engineers and architects have confirmed is feasible for renovation, Steffens said.

After public and STARS board member input, the study is nearing completion and the decision to move forward with Potter Street Station solidified, Steffens said, adding the STARS board is expected to adopt its findings.

After board approval, the project will enter its next phase, which includes accessing funding available exclusively to transit agencies, he said.

“I like what I see here,” City Councilman Michael Balls said. “Bringing back Potter Street is really going to be a beautiful thing.”

During the NEPA study, collaboration between the city of Saginaw, Saginaw County and STARS is anticipated to craft a broader rehabilitation study for the Potter Street district, Steffens said.

“We want to bring this district back,” Steffens said, adding STARS aims to revitalize the entire Potter Street district and is exploring federal and state funding opportunities of up to $1 billion.

Upon completion of the necessary studies and the project’s advancement, Steffens projected a potential completion date for all buildings and the parking garage for 2030 or 2031.

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