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.

2014 PlacePlans


The Heritage Plaza concept for a lakeside block of downtown Cadillac envisions the site as a year-round destination and hub of downtown. The site could host seasonal events and provide an attractive connection between businesses and Lake Cadillac.


Detroit - Vernor Livernois ProjectDetroit

The Vernor Crossing site in Southwest Detroit would benefit from an attractive re-use of the property and better connections between the adjacent neighborhoods and business districts. The plan proposes a shared market space and a flexible public plaza.


Flint - The Grand Traverse GreenwayFlint

The Grand Traverse Greenway is a 3-mile long former CSX railroad line with the potential to be an inviting bike/walk trail. The design concept would provide a sense of connection between places along the trail and support recreational and safety needs.



The Western Gateway area around Holland’s farmers market and civic center building has the potential to extend downtown, link it to the waterfront, and promote the area’s food industry. The plan outlines a strategy for creating a “food innovation district.”



The community sought to improve a four-block downtown alleyway between the farmers market and the transit center.  Designs call for an attractive pedestrian connection that will support business along the route, as well as build on recent streetscape efforts.



An improved transportation network around KVCC’s new healthy living campus could balance the needs of biking, walking, transit and traffic options. The plan recommends a three-lane Portage Street and multiple transportation options for resident and visitors.



Baraga Avenue inhibits pedestrian activity due to an uninviting streetscape and breaks in the city’s urban fabric. Plans call for creating better connections to neighborhoods and businesses by improving parks and parking, and encouraging new development.



Midland’s farmers market has seen an explosion of both vendors and customers, prompting thoughts of creating a larger, more robust market. The report recommends a community conversation about the farmers market’s role and expansion options.


PlacePlans Media Coverage

PlacePlans History

In autumn 2012, we put out a call for communities interested in participating in the pilot PlacePlans project. Despite a very short window for response and limited promotion, 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:

Information on the 2013 PlacePlans created for these communities, along with final recommendations and written reports, is available here. The reports include recommendations for funding sources, ordinance changes, and public-private partnerships the city leadership should pursue.