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. 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.

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.

2015 PlacePlans

Benton-Harbor-City-Center-Park-aerial-100x67Benton Harbor

Dwight Pete Mitchell City Center Park serves as the primary public green and community gathering space for downtown Benton Harbor, and the community has a number of ideas for how to enhance its role. A new design concept activating the park could include a permanent Farmers Market Pavilion, programming concepts, and comfortable spaces for people to gather, host events, and enjoy the outdoor space.

Boyne-City-Sunset-Park-100x67Boyne City

Boyne City’s waterfront along Lake Charlevoix is underutilized and properties are disconnected from each other and from the downtown area. A coordinated design plan for Sunset Park and surrounding spaces would create attractive connections to link parks, beaches, downtown businesses, and the historic walking tour.

Lathrup-Village-summer-concert-100x67Lathrup Village

The property surrounding Lathrup Village city hall currently hosts a weekly farmers market, summer concert series, and other public events, but demand has outgrown capacity. Additionally, the city has set the stage for creation of a true “village center” as a walkable destination for the community, but needs a catalytic first development to demonstrate that potential. A strategic new design for the public space, in combination with a public/private partnership to examine redevelopment of the city hall building, will help the entire parcel become a community hub offering both public services and private amenities.


Monroe is working to convert an underutilized alley into a pedestrian connector to unify the downtown area. An inviting design recognizing the community’s history and culture would create an attractive connection between museums, restaurants, retail, parking areas, and more, as well as provide opportunities for the businesses and cultural institutions along the alley to activate their own properties.


The Saint Joseph River has been the city of Niles’ primary recreational destination since its east bank was developed as Riverfront Park in the 1990s. The city has identified some parcels along the river as opportunities for catalytic developments that both take advantage of the river and enhance connections from the surrounding neighborhoods. The city is seeking support in understanding development opportunities on two key sites, as well as area planning that links these developments and existing waterfront amenities to the city’s successful Main Street district.

Traverse-City-west-end-100x67Traverse City

In the west end of downtown Traverse City, several projects are underway to address issues such as pedestrian and motorized infrastructure, streetscapes, and poor connectivity. However, the area lacks a true destination or gathering space. A new design plan for a vacant city-owned parcel along Kids Creek would transform the site into a true community space for residents and visitors, providing both a focal point for this emerging district and a connection to the heart of downtown.

2015 PlacePlans Media Coverage


Previous PlacePlans

  • 2014 – Cadillac, Detroit, Flint, Holland, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Marquette, and Midland
  • 2013 – Allegan, Alpena, Dearborn, and Sault Sainte Marie