Alpena, MI - A small "big" city (warning many pictures) | Cyburbia - Urban Planning and Placemaking Community

Alpena, MI - A small "big" city (warning many pictures)

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
15,603
Points
60
I want to introduce the City of Alpena, MI to everyone. It is a small city in northeastern Lower Michigan on Lake Huron's Thunder Bay. It is 2 hours south of the Mackinac Bridge on US-23.

The area was first settled in the 1850s as a fishing village, but later became a major lumber producer because of the direct access to the virgin White Pine forests of northern Michigan and a navigable river and harbor on a large (mostly) sheltered bay. The lumber industry produced many wealthy people who then built many large houses that have left a decent legacy.

By the beginning of the 20th century, the forests were pretty much exhausted, so the lumber industry began to decline. Luckily, though, all of Alpena and Alpena County has a couple hundred feet of quality limestone about 10 feet below grade. This allowed for the creation and development of the local cement/concrete industry (then Portland Cement Co., now LaFarge Corp.). This is the industry that has mostly sustained the economy for the last 100 years, alongwith a particle board plant, a paper plant (that just recently closed), quality community college, major hospital (with cancer center), manufacturing companys concrete block machine producer, etc.

It is a city that has maintained itself fairly well over the last 150 years, and doesn't really show signs of declining, though there may not be a boom in the near future.

Btw, I grew-up in Alpena and it was a great place to be a child. You had the Lake and River, 150 years of industrial infrastructure (therefore, alot of abandoned/leftover areas to explore as a pre-teen), and walkable/bikable size.

Enjoy

Downtown Alpena - north and south sides of Thunder Bay River (the river divides the downtown)
1418Alpena_downtown1.jpg


1418Alpena_downtown2.jpg


141812312004_006.jpg


141812312004_007.jpg


141812312004_008.jpg


141812312004_009.jpg


141812312004_010.jpg


141812312004_011.jpg


141812312004_012.jpg


141812312004_013.jpg


141812312004_019.jpg


141812312004_020.jpg


141812312004_021.jpg


141812312004_022.jpg


141812312004_023.jpg


141812312004_018.jpg


141812312004_024.jpg


141812312004_025.jpg


141812312004_026.jpg


141812312004_028.jpg


141812312004_029.jpg


141812312004_027.jpg


141812312004_2_014.jpg


141812312004_2_017.jpg


141812312004_2_020.jpg


141812312004_2_021.jpg


141812312004_2_022.jpg


141812312004_2_025.jpg


141812312004_2_023.jpg


141812312004_2_033.jpg


141812312004_2_034.jpg


141812312004_2_038.jpg


141812312004_2_039.jpg


141812312004_2_040.jpg


That was most of Downtown Alpena, which has a nice "main street" scale, but has been eroded with parking lots on primary frontages and on the backs of the main downtown blocks.

Now that you've seen some of Downtown, let's move into the neighborhoods surrounding downtown. These are the areas with the largest number of grand houses from Alpena's lumber era, alongwith many smaller, comfortable houses. I'll even show you 2 of houses I used to live in.

Here are two aerials of typical residential neighborhoods in Alpena:

1418Alpena_neighborhood2.jpg


1418Alpena_neighborhood1.jpg


We'll start at my brother's house, and walk toward downtown:

141812312004_2_044.jpg


141812312004_2_047.jpg


141812312004_2_043.jpg


141812302004_008.jpg


141812302004_009.jpg


141812302004_010.jpg


141812302004_011.jpg


141812302004_014.jpg


141812302004_015.jpg


141812302004_016.jpg


141812302004_017.jpg


141812302004_018.jpg


141812302004_019.jpg


141812302004_020.jpg


Now that we have arrived again in Downtown, let's move to the other side of downtown and see the grand houses on Washington Ave.:

141812312004_2_005.jpg


141812312004_2_006.jpg


141812312004_2_007.jpg


141812312004_2_009.jpg


141812312004_2_010.jpg


141812312004_2_011.jpg

The house on the right recently was listed for $122,000. Alpena's cheap and stagant, but stable.

141812312004_2_013.jpg


141812312004_2_012.jpg


141812312004_2_001.jpg


141812312004_2_002.jpg

the previous two are the house my family owned when I was in high school. It was a almots completely orginial 1903 late Victorian Queen Anne. It had all the orginial (never painted) oak woodwork, chandeliers, leaded-beveled first floor windows and front parlor French Doors. It is five bedrooms, 1 & 1/2 bath with a 2 car attached garage. Plus, it had alley access, nice. I loved this house.

Well, that's a tour of Alpena, MI.

What do you think?
 
Last edited:

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,923
Points
58
Good call. I was there last summer for a friends wedding and it was during one of their downtown nights. They close off one of the roads in downtown, put up a ferriswheel , have live entertainment, and ice cream. It was a family event, but I was still impressed. I also like the Thunder Bay Rec Center. A friend of mine from HS got married at the big Catholic Church there, and the reception was at the Rec Center. He is now a cop there and says that there is very little crime and it is a nice little town. But
 

Coragus

Cyburbian
Messages
1,295
Points
24
I've got a lot of family in the Rogers City and Alpena area. Just about every year, there's some family reunion that puts me in Alpena, usually at, well, I can't remember the name of the hall, but there's a couple ballfields behind it.

I was there last year with a friend of mine. He took me to this late night coffee shop with breakfast, after the bars closed. Do you know what I'm talking about, and do a couple of those pictures show that place? I know I was downtown, but I don't know Alpena all that well.

I'm much better with Rogers City. In fact, I refuse to buy sausage from anywhere but Rygwalski's IGA and have been known to make a day trip to Rogers City JUST FOR SMOKED SAUSAGE!
 

Future Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
124
Points
6
Thanks for the great pictures...they made me kinda homesick :( I grew up in West Michigan. The Victorians are beautiful...they would all be about a million dollars or more out here.

I didn't see many pedestrians in the downtown area. Cold day? Weekend? Just the way it is?
 

DetroitPlanner

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
6,238
Points
27
Roger's City for sauasage? don't ya know there is a Rygwalski's IGA in Fenton? (just kiddin). I too have relatives up in the Rogers City area. Roger's city is also a port with a giant open strip mine. I can remember being impressed by that as a kid and now as a planner I'm impressed by it being a great resource but troubbled by how it scars the land.
 

erosenda

Member
Messages
24
Points
2
Alpena looks pretty cool. I've been up to the CRTC (combat readiness training center) by the Alpena regional airport to train with my Air National Guard unit a few times. It's beautiful up there, yet had never realized how nice the old homes and the downtown was. I'll have to check it out the next time I'm up there. Thanks for the picture tour!
 
Messages
40
Points
2
Great Place!

Excellent community. Been there a few times myself. Definitely underutilized as for tourism. Actually, the whole east coast of Michigan seems neglected by those flocking to the west (Traverse City).
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
15,603
Points
60
Mich_Airport_Planner said:
Excellent community. Been there a few times myself. Definitely underutilized as for tourism. Actually, the whole east coast of Michigan seems neglected by those flocking to the west (Traverse City).
That's OK, though. ;)
 

Bear Up North

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
9,323
Points
31
Great pictures, Mendelman!

In mid-1996 I almost moved to the Alpena area. I was going to buy a small business, located near Hubbard Lake. Close observations, however, showed that the owners were "cooking the books", so I backed out.

I was disappointed. I looked at Alpena (and the whole "Sunrise" coast of Michigan) as an undiscovered jewel.

Probably much to your dismay, high costs on the west coast side of the peninsula will eventually lead to "discovery" and growth.

Bear On Wolf Creek Road
 

Jaxspra

Cyburbian
Messages
3,514
Points
24
I have never been to Michigan but after being on this board it has really made me want to go up there and see it, these pics especially. The homes are beautiful, and it seems to have a small town feel. I cannot believe the price of that home (122K) it would be a good investment to buy a few and rehab anything necessary and hold on to them for a bit. Great pics!!
 

munibulldog

Cyburbian
Messages
278
Points
10
Isn't that the town where they contracted out water treatment services (or was it wastewater) and the former employees that lost their jobs came back and ran for council and won and kicked out those that unemployed them?

Go City Employees!
 

TexanOkie

Cyburbian
Messages
2,902
Points
20
I actually got shivers just from looking at the photos. It looks so cold! (Of course, I was born and raised in Texas, so I'm a cold weather wimp.)
 

DetroitPlanner

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
6,238
Points
27
I actually got shivers just from looking at the photos. It looks so cold! (Of course, I was born and raised in Texas, so I'm a cold weather wimp.)

Its not THAT cold, many of the pictures show grass which indicates that snow was melting. The water only has a wee bit of ice left in it. Most of the sidewalks are not covered in ice, nor the roads with snow. My guess is that it was probably about 45 degrees (f) when most of these pictures were taken.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
15,603
Points
60
Well, all pictures where taken during Christmas week. The first part of the week was typical cold winter weather, but there was a slight warmup into the low 40s as indicated in many of the photos.
 

mgk920

Cyburbian
Messages
4,201
Points
26
Would the Lake Huron shoreline area's tourism prospects be better if the US 23 freeway would be/have been extended to at least Alpena? That access disconnect has got to be a factor in that. All of the other tourism areas in Da ElPee seem to have better road access than the US 23 corridor does.

Also, how is the situation in the Alpena area WRT the surrounding townships and the potential ability of the City of Alpena to grow the area's economy and tax base within the city limits?

Neat tour, BTW. :)

Mike
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
15,603
Points
60
Well, honestly many people in the Alpena area like that it is "hard" for vacationers (aka Down-Staters - like evil DP ;)) to get to the area. That way cottages are not put out of the reach of locals. But fear not, many Down-Staters, usually from the eastside of the state, are able to get to the US-23 stretch between Standish and Mackinaw nonetheless.

As for the City expanding/annexing for ED reasons, the City in the 1970s decided to allow township properties access to the muni water system, therefore, what incentive would township properties (particularly commerical) have to annex to the City?

The answer: None.

But the City and County do understand that ED efforts must be a joint effort and they tend to work together pretty well.
 

btrage

Cyburbian
Messages
6,428
Points
29
Would the Lake Huron shoreline area's tourism prospects be better if the US 23 freeway would be/have been extended to at least Alpena? That access disconnect has got to be a factor in that. All of the other tourism areas in Da ElPee seem to have better road access than the US 23 corridor does.

Also, how is the situation in the Alpena area WRT the surrounding townships and the potential ability of the City of Alpena to grow the area's economy and tax base within the city limits?

Neat tour, BTW. :)

Mike

I think the Lake Michigan shoreline wins out because of its proximity to rich Chicagoland residents.
 

Jeffssis

Member
Messages
4
Points
0
NEW & IMPROVED !!!!!!

To: Mendelman and all of the other that have commented here.

So much has happened since these pics were posted. Please go to www.AlpenaCVB.com and check out everything there is to do and see in Alpena.

In the last few years there has been a tremendous effort to market Alpena as a tourist destination. More and more shops and activities are becoming available each year. Wineries, breweries, bike, kayak, canoe, and surrey rentals, sailing lessons, scuba diving, shipwrecks and a glass bottom boat to view them, ice cream shoppes, amazing restaurants, museums, and more!

Mendelman, come home and update the pictures.

Oh and as far as that highway. Somebody said it already. We don't want to be Traverse City. If you can't handle a 2 lane go there. The east side has a slower pace and that is its charm.

Come visit Alpena-----The Sanctuary of the Great Lakes
 

alpenasucks

Member
Messages
2
Points
0
Years later and the town still looks the same and still smells awful! Alpena is a horrible town to live in and visit. I dream every night of being able to move away from this town. There's nothing to do here. People are redneck hicks. You can't swim at the "beach" because of all the rocks and wood chips and other black stuff floating in the water, plus there's usually an ecol i warning. There's no place to shop. It's freezing 10 out of the 12 months of the year. I still have to jeans and a sweatshirt on July 4th! Need I go on? People who like this town are the elderly rich people who rarely leave the house!
 

DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
15,549
Points
53
Years later and the town still looks the same and still smells awful! Alpena is a horrible town to live in and visit. I dream every night of being able to move away from this town. There's nothing to do here. People are redneck hicks. You can't swim at the "beach" because of all the rocks and wood chips and other black stuff floating in the water, plus there's usually an ecol i warning. There's no place to shop. It's freezing 10 out of the 12 months of the year. I still have to jeans and a sweatshirt on July 4th! Need I go on? People who like this town are the elderly rich people who rarely leave the house!

First, I hate to say it, but you just described half of America. Why do you hate America?
At the risk of sounding like a bad advice column, with that attitude you won't be happy anywhere. You have to look at what you enjoy about your life. The place you live is just a backdrop.
Finally, there are many ways out of a city. May I recommend joining the military so you can see other cities you will be disappointed in. Michigan also has several great colleges (so do other states). Go to college and get an education. It will force you to move. You may also become one of those rich old people who enjoy a quiet town.
 

Jeffssis

Member
Messages
4
Points
0
Nothing to do???? !!!!!!!!!!!!

Years later and the town still looks the same and still smells awful! Alpena is a horrible town to live in and visit. I dream every night of being able to move away from this town. There's nothing to do here. People are redneck hicks. You can't swim at the "beach" because of all the rocks and wood chips and other black stuff floating in the water, plus there's usually an ecol i warning. There's no place to shop. It's freezing 10 out of the 12 months of the year. I still have to jeans and a sweatshirt on July 4th! Need I go on? People who like this town are the elderly rich people who rarely leave the house!

You can swim in Grand, Long or Hubbard Lake, you can shop on line or take a road trip, I am definitely no rich. Not true about the e coli, and I leave the house all the time. When are you leaving?

In the last month I have attended the Reel Fun fishing tournament on Grand Lake, the Film Festival at the Maritime Heritage Center, The celebration of the final show of the Major League Fishing Summit Cup, the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative presentation, another presentation on the Boundary Waters Wilderness area. I could have attended basketball games, the theater or plays, informational meetings on social security, the Alpena News business expo, a bow hunting extravaganza, a snow rally, a museum, a city council meeting, hiked Island Park, watched a snowmobile race, or jumped in the lake for the Polar Plunge, And those are just the things I could remember while sitting here at work answering your sorry butt.

Please if anyone is interested in visiting Alpena look on line at the Alpena Convention and Visitors Bureau web site. They have a calendar of things to do. Hopefully you won't ever meet that writer while you're here. Instead you will meet those of us who love our little town, make it better by volunteering for local organizations or participating in events that improve it. We'd love to have you.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,923
Points
58
Years later and the town still looks the same and still smells awful! Alpena is a horrible town to live in and visit. I dream every night of being able to move away from this town. There's nothing to do here. People are redneck hicks. You can't swim at the "beach" because of all the rocks and wood chips and other black stuff floating in the water, plus there's usually an ecol i warning. There's no place to shop. It's freezing 10 out of the 12 months of the year. I still have to jeans and a sweatshirt on July 4th! Need I go on? People who like this town are the elderly rich people who rarely leave the house!

Wow... if that is how you feel about Alpena, don't cross the bridge into the UP. I thought Alpena was a great little town and it seems like it had quite a bit going for it.
 

DetroitPlanner

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
6,238
Points
27
Wow... if that is how you feel about Alpena, don't cross the bridge into the UP. I thought Alpena was a great little town and it seems like it had quite a bit going for it.

He is just made cuz Alpena was passed up for Kohls and Meijer. They went to more centrally located Gaylord. I am surprised that Art Van has not joined em yet.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
15,603
Points
60
He is just made cuz Alpena was passed up for Kohls and Meijer. They went to more centrally located Gaylord. I am surprised that Art Van has not joined em yet.
Actually, Alpena (specifically Alpena Twp) will be getting a Meijer store very soon. It's planned and imminent, but will be going on a clusterf... stretch of M-32 just west of the City limits.

Really, Alpena's pretty nice for what it is. That's the key....accept it for what it is and your life will be much happier.
 

klebs

Member
Messages
2
Points
0
Ask 5 people to define "nice" and you'll get 5 different answers.

"Nice" is relative for different folks. Alpena's probably not the best place for a dynamic, world-encompassing job so young folks, especially after college,
will probably look elsewhere. But in my case, after having done that already, Alpena looks like a pretty nice place to retire. Here's why:

1. Infrastructure is there for older folks looking for shopping and (somewhat but could be better) medical support.
2. It's one of the two largest cities in N. Michigan but it has a small town atmosphere. (I live between Washington DC and Baltimore, even small towns here are "urban").
3. It's not overly hot in the summertime and not too overly cold or snowy in the winter for a born Michigander. Gotta have a decent snowblower tho and folks from down
south probably wouldn't like it. I grew up near Flint, though, so it's in my comfort zone.
4. Housing prices are such that I can take the equity from the sale of my run-of-the-mill rancher on the East Coast and buy a place on Long or Grand Lake without a mortgage.

Taxes could be better for a retiree (used to be, changed in 2012). IMHO as a person who likes the water, though, northern Mich. is worth the tax hit
that one wouldn't suffer in a place like Pennsylvania, S. Carolina or Florida. In our quest to find the perfect retirement spot, the wife and I spent a week last
summer renting a cottage nearby and sampling everything Alpena has to offer, and we were impressed enough to put it on our short list.
 

DetroitPlanner

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
6,238
Points
27
Actually, Alpena (specifically Alpena Twp) will be getting a Meijer store very soon. It's planned and imminent, but will be going on a clusterf... stretch of M-32 just west of the City limits.

Really, Alpena's pretty nice for what it is. That's the key....accept it for what it is and your life will be much happier.

Whoa! Is Kmart still open!

klebs, when ya retiring? Can you fit into a nice 700 sq ft cabin? I have one I hardly ever get to a couple of counties south.
 

DetroitPlanner

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
6,238
Points
27
For now....we'll see for how long though.

But really...both Kmart and the future Meijer are both in Alpena Twp, so.....

three megastores. Meijer will no doubt kill the big red K. its a shame that it just can't roll over and Meijer takover the Kmart spot. After all, the Kmart is a big one, I think it might even be a super K.
 

klebs

Member
Messages
2
Points
0
Sorry, we're gonna need bigger than 700 sqft. Got 3 years to go before we both walk out of our
jobs and start getting our place down here ready to sell. That Meijer should be
up and running by then.

The nice part is that we're in an area near Wash DC where everybody who works for a federal
agency seems to want to live. So, unlike the Alpena area, where houses in the $250K range sit
for a year or more, we can unload ours down here in fairly short order, pack the U-haul, and rent
a place up there until we settle on buying one.
 

DetroitPlanner

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
6,238
Points
27
Sorry, we're gonna need bigger than 700 sqft..

That is what I figured, too bad! It is a beautiful structure, just a bit small for year round living. Oh and it is not insulated and would be a pain to do so as the interior is all knotty pine including the cathedral ceiling.
 

sweetsal

Member
Messages
2
Points
0
Loved the pics!

I loved the pics! I have summer cottages on Hubbard Lake & dream about making them year round some day. I would move up here full time in a heart beat! I love the peace & solitude on the sunrise side and although tourism is necessary, I am glad it has not overpopulated the area just yet! Thank you for posting
 

sweetsal

Member
Messages
2
Points
0
and now Meijers too

Update...Meijers is coming to Alpena! For the naysayers...stay home! We don't want you! What makes this place so great is the people, the quaintness & the quiet! I'll take that over crowded lakes where you listen to drunks all night hooting & hollering! I love that I can sit on my deck, listen to the waves crash on the shore & enjoy a glass of wine with my neighbor if I so choose without having to compete for air time!
 

DetroitPlanner

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
6,238
Points
27
Update...Meijers is coming to Alpena! For the naysayers...stay home! We don't want you! What makes this place so great is the people, the quaintness & the quiet! I'll take that over crowded lakes where you listen to drunks all night hooting & hollering! I love that I can sit on my deck, listen to the waves crash on the shore & enjoy a glass of wine with my neighbor if I so choose without having to compete for air time!

So you're saying I won't be welcome once I sell my cabin in West Branch and move me and my Banjo whiskey drinking contingent up to Long Lake?

Maybe I will just get a place at Farmington and Five next to Bates instead.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
15,603
Points
60
So you're saying I won't be welcome once I sell my cabin in West Branch and move me and my Banjo whiskey drinking contingent up to Long Lake?
Long Lake would be ok, since you probably can't afford Grand Lake or Hubbard Lake.


;)
 
S

Scoott

Guest
Great memories

Thank you for your efforts to share the awesome photos of Alpena.
 

andijo

Member
Messages
1
Points
0
Loved the pics

Thanks for posting the pics. Born and spent several years just outside the city limits. Small town life on the water is wonderful. The downtown is adorable especially at Christmas. I have such fond memories of living there.
 

alpenasucks

Member
Messages
2
Points
0
First, I hate to say it, but you just described half of America. Why do you hate America?
At the risk of sounding like a bad advice column, with that attitude you won't be happy anywhere. You have to look at what you enjoy about your life. The place you live is just a backdrop.
Finally, there are many ways out of a city. May I recommend joining the military so you can see other cities you will be disappointed in. Michigan also has several great colleges (so do other states). Go to college and get an education. It will force you to move. You may also become one of those rich old people who enjoy a quiet town.


I would never join the military. Plus, I am a woman (don't feel women especially those with kids should join the military) and over 35. I have been to college. I'm still stuck in this town with nothing to do. Especially for kids. There is no place in town to take them. We sit on our butts in side all year long. Sure, we can go swimming in the freezing cold lake, get cuts on our feet from the sharp rocks, and sick from the crap floating in it I guess. Go to the "museum", if you can call it that. But what else can the kids do for fun?????? There is nothing!!!! It's an old person town. I've seen other cities that are wonderful. Been to Hawaii which is absolutely amazing, just can't afford to move there. Plus I'd never let my kids fly. Washington DC is absolutely amazing. Tons of stuff to do there, plus most of it's free! Been to NC, VA, MO, all better than MI. I used to live in Florida. Nice hot weather, and you can actually swim in the water! So, I'm definitely not disappointed in other cities, just Alpena. But, also not wealthy enough to move away. Plus, all my family is here. It is SO cold here. I was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt in the middle of the day in July a few days ago!!! That's just not right!
 

DetroitPlanner

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
6,238
Points
27
I would never join the military. Plus, I am a woman (don't feel women especially those with kids should join the military) and over 35. I have been to college. I'm still stuck in this town with nothing to do. Especially for kids. There is no place in town to take them. We sit on our butts in side all year long. Sure, we can go swimming in the freezing cold lake, get cuts on our feet from the sharp rocks, and sick from the crap floating in it I guess. Go to the "museum", if you can call it that. But what else can the kids do for fun?????? There is nothing!!!! It's an old person town. I've seen other cities that are wonderful. Been to Hawaii which is absolutely amazing, just can't afford to move there. Plus I'd never let my kids fly. Washington DC is absolutely amazing. Tons of stuff to do there, plus most of it's free! Been to NC, VA, MO, all better than MI. I used to live in Florida. Nice hot weather, and you can actually swim in the water! So, I'm definitely not disappointed in other cities, just Alpena. But, also not wealthy enough to move away. Plus, all my family is here. It is SO cold here. I was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt in the middle of the day in July a few days ago!!! That's just not right!

Admit it, you're miserable. If you lived anywhere else you would find fault with it, its people, and what there is to do. You need to figure out what makes you happy. If your family does not make you happy then you really have bigger problems than Alpena. Alpena is not that much different than more affluent places like Harbor Springs, Petoskey, or Traverse City. Take in a Potato Festival! Spend some time at the Persque Isle lighthouse. Sneak into Calcite and flip one of those big-ass trucks! Go to Black Lake State Park, Get yourself immersed in the local culture.

Signed,

Jesse Besser III
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
15,603
Points
60
I spent the first 20 years of my life in Alpena and had no problem "finding something to do" as a child.

I made sure to take advantage of all the great outdoors activities available in Alpena and the area.
 

Jen

Cyburbian
Messages
1,702
Points
26
County Tax auction time in MIchigan!

www.tax-sale.info


Alpena has a few properties, fixer uppers or vacant land availabe, spend a few hundred or a few thousand and if you bid right it's yours free and clear.But nothing on lake front except for misery bay which looks like a mucky mozzie haven. The second auction will roll around in the fall, where min bids start at 0 or $100.8-!
 

Cedar Savage

Member
Messages
1
Points
0
Alpena, Michigan, a mixed bag

Being an Alpena native or as some would call us a "Thunder Bay Cedar Savage", I guess I will step up to the plate & share my thoughts. You may find them boring, unrealistic or think Right On! That's Okay. We're all simply sharing & that is what life is all about. The longer I hang around, the more sure I am that the song Glen Campbell sang "Try a little Kindness" is sound. No matter where we go or what our experiences, those who respond to us in kindness, leave us just a wee bit warmer. Since we Trolls of the land under the bridge know... In our very large peninsulas, winter can last a long, long time. I've been known to say Alpena is home to six months of winter and four of bad sledding.

But then I've been a lot of places. Desert, Tropics, Europe & around our great North America (my sneaky way of including Canada). As a kid I thought little about the ins & outs of things to do. I knew that if I blew my mouth off about "nothing to do around here" my dad would have a laundry list of work I could fill my summer vacation days with. I was not stupid. I kept my gob shut. Since I was a latchkey kid (both folks worked) I was amazingly free to roam. That's not possible today. Too much mobility means that too many people with less than honorable intentions can slide into our little town & cause mayhem. A young pre-adolescent kid could disappear if they had the freedom of movement I had way back when.

So let's not go down memory lane. Let's just see what comments we can make about Alpena - on Thunder Bay - Michigan in this year of Our Lord 2018.
K-Mart departed. Not because they heard that Meijers was coming in, but rather the owners of our location were backs to the wall. The county wanted to buy the land for the new jail, but the owners want to lease it. So it shall sit there taking up a lot of space & hopefully paying taxes.
Staples was here but left. They really did seem to do well here, but methinks that when the heavy hitters (hospital, LaFarge, etc) made purchases, they did so online & not at the store. So their versatility slit their own throats.
We have a neat Applebees Restaurant & that place is always busy. It is probably the smallest floor plan that they use. But the shakers & movers for that chain took a chance on this little place & I think they have not had to regret it.

The demographics story is that at our last National Census, our population dropped to under 10 thousand. That tends to turn investors off. But think about it. West Coast Michigan is packed, high tax area & expensive. Yup, Traverse City (TC) now can boast a Sam's Club, Costco, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Kohls, & other major chains. They can also boast wall to wall people, bumper to bumper cars & higher prices. It is a tradeoff.

Some years ago after 13 years of badgering, clamoring & begging for a Taco Bell... the company built next to Pizza Hut. The manager told me that NO ONE was ready for what happened. They sold out daily. They had semi's up here daily. People might be tight with a buck, but they wanted their taco restaurant & they were there. They must still be there, because this past winter, Taco Bell underwent a renovation & you don't put money into a place that is not paying its way.

This town for many years was content to simply take the days as they came. Don't make waves, don't rock the boat. A few families from "the old guard" made the decision that we liked our isolated life style and we would keep it that way. When their progeny went away to colleges all over the US, many never returned. When the 'old guard' died, there was no one to take their places.

In the meantime, quietly, people were discovering us. They moved up here from everywhere else. Some had come here via the military down at Wurtsmith AFB near Oscoda, others at our Air National Guard Base here & others came because they visited someone here or were simply driving US23 & we were a wide spot on the road. But they liked what they saw. And they returned, and they stayed.

This new breed want others to come and enjoy the uniqueness that is Alpena. As others have written, things are moving around here. We won't have many years left of sleepy little town where we give our kids a suitcase as their graduation gift when they receive their high school diploma.

Well, I have rambled on. But then That's what Old Thunder Bay Cedar Savages DO! So I'll sign off for now. SHE (aka Mother Nature) is having one of her DAYS. She went into her closet & realized that she had left a whole crapload of winter snow on the shelf that should have been distributed back in January- March. Always frugal, she won't waste it so even though April Fool's Day is past, she's shaking out the boxes that were stored on the shelf. Fortunately the Olde Marine only THOUGHT about putting the Snow Blower away last month. That's good. We need it. Blessings & enjoy this gift of today!::thumbsup::mi:
 

Doohickie

Cyburbian
Messages
3,938
Points
46
I've never been to Alpena even though I lived in Michigan for 6 years. Looks like a cool place. The home prices are amazing.
 
Top