The year 2020 couldn't get out here fast enough for most of us.

So many challenges -- from the COVID-19 pandemic to racial injustice protests to the presidential election -- left many feeling physically and mentally drained.

But if the COVID-19 vaccines take hold and its mutant strains don't explode, it's possible society will return to some sense of normalcy in the months to come.

If that is the case, here are five things to look forward to in the coming year.

1)Open Up-- When in-person dining is allowed to resume in Michigan, there's going to be a pent-up demand for restaurants. There's a growing list of new places to eat and drink including:

The long-awaited Chick-fil-A on Hall Road is targeting opening in the first half of the year. The Atlanta, Ga.-based fast-food chain picked Shelby Township for its first Macomb County location and reportedly is considering the Macomb Mall property for its second.

Chicago-style Portillo's restaurant is scheduled to open this summer in a new building constructed near Lakeside Mall, complete with an outdoor patio and double drive-thru lanes. Its Sterling Heights location will be the first Michigan home to this fast-casual eatery known for its Chicago-style hot dogs, famous Italian Beef sandwiches, char-grilled burgers and chocolate cake.

Clinton Township-based New Age Cafe is leaving Hall Road to take over the former The Mitt on the edge of downtown Mount Clemens, which has been closed for years. The Asian eatery often has a line of customers standing out the door waiting to get in.

Black Cat Coffee Shop is coming to the corner of Macomb Place and North Walnut in Mount Clemens around the second quarter of 2021. It is expected to offer an alternative to the city's bars on the restaurant scene.

Mi Pueblo is nearing completion of transforming the former Pogo's on Groesbeck Highway near Cass Avenue in Clinton Township. The eatery, featuring Mexican fare and plenty of Patron margaritas, will represent a sister location from its original eatery in southwest Detroit.

Cellar 104 World Varietal Winery is waiting for the word to open on Macomb Place in Mount Clemens. Owner Dave Gagnon has done a terrific job in transforming the place from the old Luigi's Downtown into boutique winery. They'll offer small plate dishes and cheese boards from neighboring restaurants.

An oldie but goodie, the Fishbone's on Jefferson Avenue in St. Clair Shores, is wrapping up a remodeling project with a new paint job, kitchen, and a walk-up pick-up and carryout. Owner Nico Gatzaros says he hopes to open later this month.

2)Let's Go Krogering-- The much-delayed demolition of the closed Kmart at the southeast corner of Nine Mile Road and Harper is done and construction on Kroger's latest store is nearing completion. A spokesperson said the Cincinnati-based grocer invested more than $29 million into the 103,000-square-foot store. Plans tentatively call for an opening by the end of the first quarter or early in the second of 2021.

3)Festival Firsts-- Promoters of outdoor festivals are crossing their fingers hoping they are allowed to move forward with activities ranging from car shows to ice sculptures.

Aqua Freeze in St. Clair Shores, cancelled in 2019 and not held in 2020, is back on the schedule this year to be the first festival of the year. It is set for Jan. 16-17 at Blossom Heath Park on Jefferson featuring horse-drawn wagon rides, ice sculptures, a petting zoo, live music and a craft beer tent.

The first classic car cruise of the year is scheduled for June 5 when Cruisin' 53 returns with bands, food and a parade of cars on Van Dyke Avenue.

Also scheduled to return are Sterlingest, Bud Light Classic Car Show, Independence Day Fireworks and Riversight and Sound Concert, and more.

4)Malls on Hall-- Two of Macomb County's best-known shopping centers have fallen on hard times thanks to the shift from bricks-and-mortar shopping and sped up by the pandemic.

At Lakeside Mall in Sterling Heights, owners are expected to share their plans for future development in the coming months. City officials have said among the ideas are to tear down part of the enclosed shopping center to add residential and office developments, parking decks, an outdoor concert amphitheater and an urban beach.

Partridge Creek officials haven't been as open with their vision of the future and there is no timetable for changes. Township officials have offered some ideas on mixed-uses, especially for the big boxes that sit empty on both ends of the shopping center.

5)Moving Mound-- Ground breaking for what is billed as the largest road construction project in Macomb County history will take place this summer.

The $217 million Innovate Mound project calls for reconstruction of nine miles of Mound Road between I-696 in Warren and M-59 in Sterling Heights. Construction is expected to continue through the end of 2023, with completion planned for 2024.

Mound will receive numerous technological improvements, safety improvements and visual enhancements.

The project plans to make the road more pedestrian friendly, enabled with smart technology and improved traffic flow. Bridges, traffic signals, signage, storm sewers and lighting and utilities will all be improved and modified. Systems will collect date from connected vehicles, mobile devices, and infrastructure to provide travelers with real-time information such as the status of traffic levels, parking availability, transit schedules, traffic signals and weather conditions.

A corridor dashboard to allow Macomb County to track traffic patterns and develop automated traffic signal measures and adjust signal timing based upon peak travel times and usage. Travel sensors will provide travel time data updates, surveillance cameras to help with clearance of traffic incidents and fiber optics will be installed along the corridor to accommodate any future data needs.

Construction will start with a section between 17 Mile and Hall Road, where the road will be widened to add a fourth lane in each direction.

More:
Five things for Macomb to look forward to in the New Year - The Macomb Daily

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