Physical Design & Walkability

asset1_croppedIt is time to get ready for “walkable  urbanism” in Michigan’s communities, big and small. Communities have been designed to shuffle people between work and  home, however, market analysis continues to show that today’s “millennials,”  young professionals, “baby-boomers,” and “empty nesters” want to live in  neighborhoods with walkable downtowns, access to cultural, social, and  entertainment opportunities, and a variety of transportation options.

Make Your Case for Physical Design & Walkability

Start a conversation about improving the landscape and walkability of your community. Here are some talking points to share with neighbors, organizations and local government officials:

  • There are positive economic advantages to walkable development
    • Property values tend to increase
    • Local business sales often increase
    • There is an increased potential for development and investment projects
  • Compact, diverse and walkable neighborhoods attract employees and consumers
  • Smart growth reduces costs for local government and increases the tax base

Quick Stats

According to a 2012 study on Smart Growth and Economic Success issued by the Environmental Protection Agency:

  • Rhode Island found that the state could save more than $1.4 billion over 20 years if its’ next 20,000 housing units were built in a compact configuration instead of a low-density, large-lot, scattered pattern of development.
  • At least one-third of homebuyers prefer homes in neighborhoods with smart growth characteristics, and future demand for homes in compact neighborhoods could exceed 140 percent of the current supply.
  • On average, $1 of public investment in brownfields projects leads to $8 in total investment

Additional Resources

A wide variety of resources on physical design and walkability projects are available on our Resources and Tools page.

Get Inspired

The following case studies illustrate creative ways that communities across the state have enhanced their physical design and walkability.

Ironwood-art-park-concept-100x67 NEW! Crowdfunded Ironwood Art Park
A vacant downtown lot becomes a lively community hub for art displays and performances through a collaboration between the city and several community organizations.
WestlandCityHall-Exterior-4-100x67 NEW! Westland City Hall Big Box Retrofit
The city of Westland devised a creative, cost-effective solution to their dysfunctional, dangerous city hall building by retrofitting a long-vacant big box store.
Berkley-patio-thumb Experimenting with Place in Berkley
The intersection of Robina and Twelve Mile in downtown Berkley has the potential to be a great public gathering space. A pop-up placemaking project full of fun, engaging elements got the community involved and the creative juices flowing.
tour-de-troit-inline2 Tour de Troit
The Tour de Troit has grown from a small group of people exploring Detroit by bike to Michigan’s largest bike ride and an important tool to promote safer streets for non-motorized users.
Farmington-Pavilion-thumb The Heart of Downtown: Sundquist Pavilion in Riley Park
The Farmington community realized that their downtown lacked a real heart, so they set about creating one. The result is a parking lot that has been transformed into an attractively-landscaped park with a pavilion that now serves as the focal point for numerous community events.
Boyne City Main Stree Boyne City Main Street
A group of volunteers organized to increase efforts to improve, promote and create greater vitality around the Boyne City downtown. The effort is focused around the National Historic Preservation’s Main Street Four-Point Approach: promote, design, organization, and economic restructuring.
Community Driven Nuisance Abatement Community Driven Nuisance Abatement
Neighbors in Southwest Detroit organized a grassroots approach to identifying and potentially taking legal action against the private owners of nuisance properties that are having a negative impact on a whole community.
West Branch Fabulous Fridays Downtown West Branch: The Heart & Soul of a Community
West Branch recognizes the importance of bringing people together, creating a destination where people can shop, enjoy a great restaurant and attend events with family and friends. With this in mind, a group of business owners discussed ways to actively encourage more engagement in their downtown.
110eferry2_8-30-13_thumb Live Midtown
To boost the number of homeowners and renters in Detroit’s Midtown area, a community development nonprofit organized a live-where-you-work incentive program in partnership with major local employers. The program further benefits the community by improving its vitality, safety and economy.
Main Street Community Partnership Main Street Community Partnership
Inspired by a presentation about the power of investing in your own community instead of Wall St, a group of 22 Adrian residents and leaders chipped in funds to buy and rehab a historic but long-neglected structure on their main street.
marquette-thumbnail The Noquemanon Trails Network
Local leaders advocated for a new nonprofit to form in order to maintain and expand the Noquemanon Trails Network. The trails promote year-round sports activity, tourism and healthy living.