Successful placemaking is a dynamic, strategic approach to community development and economic revitalization based on an individual community’s strengths within core “quality of life” areas. With a comprehensive understanding of a community’s place-based assets, and the tools and strategies to best leverage them, a successful “PlacePlan” can develop. PlacePlans is a joint effort between Michigan State University and the Michigan Municipal League, funded by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) through the MIPlace initiative, to help communities design and plan for transformative placemaking projects.
The PlacePlans process is customized to each project and community, but each involves an intensive community engagement strategy, including a public visioning session, several public meetings to provide specific input and feedback on plans and designs, and direct work with key community stakeholders along the way. The PlacePlan projects will positively impact each community’s ability to leverage their place-based assets as economic drivers, and will provide lessons large and small for communities across Michigan. Please visit again to see the work in progress, and follow along through our placemaking blog, and the League’s social networks – Twitter and Facebook.
A historic downtown block which fronts Lake Cadillac is undergoing several distinct new investments including the addition of new residential space, a brewpub, a regional trailhead and an upgraded arts pavilion. A unified physical design plan for this key portion of Cadillac’s downtown can synthesize these positive changes, leading to the creation of a memorable and lively place to live, work and relax—while providing the structure for coordinated investments in the future.
The Southwest Detroit Business Association’s plan for the Vernor Livernois Project will support the redevelopment of a vacant and blighted property in the heart of one of the city’s strongest commercial districts. The plan will design a new neighborhood center area on what is currently a 6.9-acre brownfield site at West Vernor Highway and Livernois Avenue in the heart of Southwest Detroit. The Vernor Livernois Project will become a focal point for this vibrant and diverse community, providing a public square, locally-oriented retail and community meeting space as well as new employment opportunities.
The Grand Traverse Greenway Plan turns a 3-mile segment of former CSX Railroad corridor into a dynamic multi-use trail, creating a new and needed link between Downtown, the Flint River, and neighborhoods to the south. The planned Greenway would connect with Flint’s universities, medical centers, schools, recreation areas, and two major redevelopment sites. In addition, the Greenway would connect to the existing trail system north of Downtown.
The Western Gateway project would create a strategic plan connecting Holland’s downtown, lakefront and historic residential areas. Planning the revitalization of the 8th Street corridor would create new opportunities for infill development and adaptive reuse projects while providing residents, employees and visitors seamless access between the lakefront and downtown. Holland’s food-related infrastructure, including a successful Farmers Market and a collective kitchen space, could form the backbone of a Food Innovation District within the Plan.
A municipal alley located in the heart of downtown provides the potential for a new north-south connection between an existing Farmers Market, a cluster of open and planned restaurants and entertainment venues, and major employers. A new physical design for an inviting and interesting pedestrian connection in this corridor would assist in creating a seamless downtown fabric as well as enhance walkability, giving the area greater potential to attract and retain new residents and businesses.
Thanks to several major projects either planned or underway—including a new Healthy Living Campus for Kalamazoo Valley Community College, a redeveloped Upjohn Park and Farmer’s Market, and the cleaning of Portage Creek—the Edison neighborhood southeast of Downtown is seeing new investment. The Healthy Living Corridor Plan would connect these areas with the existing neighborhood fabric and create a single distinct and fun place for work, play and exercise.
Baraga Avenue, though no longer separated physically from downtown by railroad lines, is still a barrier for pedestrian activity due to an uninviting streetscape and breaks in the city’s urban fabric. The Baraga Avenue Enhancement Project would develop a physical design plan to overcome these obstacles, designing for Marquette an interesting, walkable street that connects downtown with the lakefront while providing new opportunities for business investment.
A city with downtown assets including a busy Main Street, a baseball stadium and recreational areas, a large base of skilled employment, and the potential for new mixed-use development, Midland lacks the physical and psychological connections between these key areas. A new Strategic Plan for Placemaking in downtown Midland would provide both potential and existing residents with a unique and vibrant place in which to reside and work—by planning for a walkable downtown with increased opportunities for entertainment, culture, entrepreneurship and commerce.
PlacePlans Media Coverage
- 8 Michigan cities to get help on development – Coloradoan.com
- Eight Michigan cities to get help on development – Battle Creek Enquirer
- Eight Michigan cities to get help on development – Anchorage Daily News
- 8 Michigan cities to get help on development – Kansas City Star
- Eight Michigan cities chosen for development projects – Michigan Radio
- 8 Michigan cities to get help on development – Bloomberg Businessweek
- Midland, Flint among Michigan cities to get help developing strategic plans for downtown areas – MLive
- 8 Michigan cities, including Detroit, to get help on development – Detroit News
- Eight Michigan Communities Selected for PlacePlans Work: Cities to Receive Economic Development Assistance – Michigan Municipal League
In autumn 2012, we put out a call for interest. Despite a very short window for response and limited promotions, we received applications from more than 30 communities. With advisory input from MSHDA staff, we selected projects based on a number of criteria including potential for implementation and potential to support private sector investment in housing redevelopment. Four cities were chosen to serve as the pilot PlacePlans communities: Allegan, Alpena, Dearborn and Sault Sainte Marie.
2013 PlacePlans information along with final recommendations and written reports. The reports include recommendations for funding sources, ordinance changes and public-private partnerships the city leadership should pursue.