In the storm of imagining and building the Uptown townhomes in downtown Traverse City, Mike Wills brought a request to Traverse City Light and Power in an effort to make his property front more cohesive while conclusively helping to prevent graffiti. Wills came up with the idea to have his utility boxes disguised as a part of the landscape, turning to Image360 to put a brick wrap around the boxes. Additionally, he’s adding greenery on top.

(Take a look inside Uptown’s Riverfront townhomes!)

Traverse City Light and Power was so pleased with the results they turned around and passed the “Art on Utility Infrastructure Policy,” effective May 9, 2017. It states that the purpose is to “prevent graffiti on utility infrastructure while adding a sense of place, identity and beautifying the cityscape for the different locations within Traverse City Light and Power distribution system by placing artwork in the utility’s infrastructure (transformer cabinets).”

This policy enables community groups or organizations to make their own designs to be approved or to select from a variety of pre-designed options created by Interlochen art students. The designs have the option to either blend into a property and the surrounding landscape or to be a stand-alone piece of art/mural. The rate payer or sponsor of each utility box will be responsible for funding the artwork in advance.

We chatted with Mike Wills about his idea …

How does this new policy add to the aesthetic of your Uptown Project?
It literally fools a lot of people, I’ve walked around here with a lot of people who don’t even notice because it fits right in, and that was the whole idea.

What are options for individuals who don’t own property but want to take part?
If you happen to have one on your block and you want to make it pretty, but it’s on a public street, you have the option to sponsor it and then pick the design for it. You just simply have to get in contact with Traverse City Light and Power.

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