Successful placemaking is not about implementing a “one size fits all” step-by-step method that works in every situation. It is a dynamic, strategic approach to economic revitalization based on individually evaluating each community’s strengths and weaknesses in the core “quality of life” issues—and then developing tools and strategies that use those strengths to meet the challenges at hand.
The following case studies show how various communities have successfully enhanced their sense of place using this dynamic approach in creative and surprising ways.
A pop-up retail initiative that partners community leaders, building owners, entrepreneurs, and artists to activate vacant storefronts with transformational businesses and art installations. Businesses have included eateries, galleries, and clothing shops, among many other entrepreneurial ventures.
The Dequindre Cut Greenway is a 1.35-mile intown recreational path developed through a public, nonprofit, and private partnership that offers a pedestrian link between the Detroit Riverfront, Eastern Market, and many residential neighborhoods.
Inside|Out brings 80 reproductions of masterpieces from the Detroit Institute of Art (DIA) museum’s collection to the streets and parks of greater metro Detroit, pleasantly surprising and delighting residents of the participating communities and engaging them in dialogue about art.
Recycle Here! started out as a traditional drop-off center in a community with few recycling options. Through the creativity of its staff, volunteers, and participating citizens, it has become a community gathering place and a showcase for artists and musicians.
Artist Village Detroit
The Artist Village serves as a creative hub for artists, students, business owners, and neighbors living and working in the heart of Old Redford. A once abandoned commercial strip serves as the center of the village and houses the historic Redford Theatre, a small coffee shop, vintage clothing store, and an art education program.
Frankfort Historic Landmarks Arts Center
The Elizabeth Lane Oliver Center for the Arts (ELOCA) is a repurposed Coast Guard Station and serves as a popular community hub for residents and visitors. The regional arts community has two galleries and three classroom spaces for art, music, literature, dance and exercise classes, as well as a professional test kitchen for the culinary arts.
Mark’s Carts – Ann Arbor
Mark Hodesh was pondering ways to utilize the privately owned empty lot behind his already successful Downtown Home and Garden store. Capitalizing on a growing national trend of food carts, Mark’s Carts brings people of all ages together by offering delicious local food and communal seating, which has generated energy and activity on the nearby streets and neighborhood.
A small group of individuals looking to make a difference in their community and trying to find a tool to financially support them in a modest way. The size of SOUP dinners are largely dependent upon the venue but can grow to over 100 participants with awards ranging from $500-2,000.
Downtown: The Heart & Soul of a Community
The city of West Branch recognizes the importance of bringing people together, of creating a destination where people can shop, enjoy a great restaurant experience and attend events with family and friends. With this in mind, a group of business owners gathered to discuss ways to actively encourage more engagement in their downtown.
Growing the Economy Through Arts and Culture
Located halfway up Lake Michigan’s beautiful coastline, Ludington harbors a rich cultural heritage of a bygone mill and lumbering era. The city was poised to celebrate its past and future, bringing art, nature and history together, and provide an impetus for future development.