PlacePlans, a demonstration and technical assistance program developed in 2012 under the auspices of the statewide MIplace Partnership, with lead sponsorship from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, focused on assisting cities, selected through a competitive process, with the development of visionary yet realistic strategies to redevelop a key walkable, mixed-use area of their community. The League, along with faculty and students from Michigan State University School of Planning, Design and Construction and MSU Extension, worked with community leaders, residents, anchor institutions and expert consultants to bring the best practices in placemaking and civic engagement to bear in a customized way for each of the 22 participating cities.

The program partners developed PlacePlans with multiple goals:

  • Help individual communities achieve greater economic success through placemaking projects
  • Test some of the placemaking innovations and different approaches that were cropping up around the nation and the world
  • Identify key themes and lessons that lead to success or failure in communities big and small

Evaluation of PlacePlans Experiences

In 2016, the League partnered with Wayne State University’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning to do an evaluation of participants’ experiences with the PlacePlans program. Respondents from participating cities felt overwhelmingly positively about PlacePlans and its impact on local placemaking efforts. Notably, even where communities had not yet undertaken any physical implementation of their plan, many respondents reported improved community engagement and discussion as a result of the process. Download the full report for details.

PlacePlan Projects

Allegan – population 4,998

Downtown Riverfront Development

Allegan, one of the first cities to participate in PlacePlans, has begun implementing projects, including an events plaza, historic bridge lighting, and a redesign of Veteran’s Memorial Park. Read more…

Download PlacePlan Report
Download report on Allegan’s PlacePlan experience

Alpena – population 10,483

Downtown Plaza Palooza

The city of Alpena is focusing on development of a plaza in the heart of downtown Alpena. The plaza would serve as a focal point in the community, designed to accommodate events and public gatherings. Read more…

Download PlacePlan Report

Benton Harbor – population 10,038

Square 1: Coming Together at City Center

Dwight Mitchell City Center Park serves as the primary public green and community gathering space for downtown Benton Harbor. It’s the symbolic center of the city, both by virtue of its location in the center of the historic downtown, and by its ability to draw people to a variety of special events held there. Read more…

Download PlacePlan Report

Berkley – population 10,038

Experimenting with Place

 In an effort to engage the community in placemaking at the Robina and Twelve Mile intersection, the city decided to initiate a short-term planning process and tactical placemaking pop-up project during the Berkley Art Bash, an annual art fair in downtown Berkley.
 Read more…

Download the Case Study
Download 2015 Robina Plaza Report

Download 2014 Robina Plaza Report

Boyne City – population 3,735

Boyne on the Water

Boyne City has a successful downtown and it is a community that embraces its cultural resources, from history to art. It also has beautiful natural resources. Community leaders identified further room for improvement in linking these assets and creating more usable public space along the lakefront. Read more…

Download PlacePlan Report

Cadillac – population 10,355

Heritage Plaza

The “Heritage Plaza” concept envisions the site as a year-round destination and hub of downtown, hosting seasonal events and providing an attractive connection between the Mitchell Street businesses and Lake Cadillac. Read more…

Download PlacePlan Report
Download Report of Cadillac’s PlacePlan Experience

2017 “Where Are They Now?” Project Update

Dearborn – population 98,153

Transit-oriented Development

The site would serve as a focal point in the community, designed to support local and regional commuter needs, establish connectivity between attractions and locations of interest within Dearborn, and complement the redevelopment of a vibrant downtown space. Read more…

Download PlacePlan Report

Detroit – population 713,777

Vernor Crossing

The Southwest Detroit project engaged neighborhood residents, businesses, and community organizations in developing concepts for the reuse of a vacant, city-owned brownfield at the intersection of Vernor and Livernois. Read more…

Download PlacePlan Report

Farmington / Farmington Hills – population 90,112

Reimagining the 10 Mile/Orchard Lake Intersection

Farmington and Farmington Hills are working with residents and business owners around the intersection of Orchard Lake and Ten Mile Road to rethink this area’s relationship to the surrounding neighborhoods. Read more …

Flint –  population 102,434

Grand Traverse Greenway

The Grand Traverse Greenway is a 3-mile-long former CSX railroad line that the City of Flint has been working to acquire and convert to a bike/walk trail with support from MDNR and MDOT. Read more…

Download PlacePlan Report

Holland – population 33,051

Food Innovation District

The Holland project engaged downtown business owners as well as local food producers, distributors, and buyers from around the area to examine the Western Gateway area around the farmers market and civic center building. Read more…

Download PlacePlan Report

Jackson – population 33,534

Downtown Jackson Alleyway

The Jackson project used input from residents and business owners at multiple community meetings to develop concepts for the four-block downtown alleyway running from the farmers’ market to the transit center. Read more…

Download PlacePlan Report

2017 “Where Are They Now?” Project Update

Kalamazoo – population 74,262

Connecting the Dots of Sustainable Mobility, Health, and Wellness

The plan looks at balancing biking, walking, transit, and traffic options in the Edison Neighborhood, and especially at the role of Portage Street as a gateway to the neighborhood and downtown. Read more…

Download PlacePlan Report

2017 “Where Are They Now?” Project Update

Lathrup Village – population 4,075

EnLiVen Lathrup

Lathrup Village city leaders worked with the League and area residents to improve and enLiVen a key part of their community. The attractive historic homes that make up the city’s intimate neighborhoods stand in stark contrast to Southfield Road – a major suburban highway that slices the community in half. Read more…

Download PlacePlan Report

Marquette – population 21,355

Reimagining Baraga Avenue

The Marquette project, which involved multiple community meetings and input from residents and business owners, focused on the 100 block of Baraga Avenue in downtown Marquette, between Third Street and Lakeshore Boulevard. Read more…

Download PlacePlan Report

Midland – population 21,355

Farmer’s Market

The Midland PlacePlans project brought national experts to the city to engage city staff, farmers market vendors, and other community leaders in a discussion of strategic opportunities for the popular market. Read more…

Download PlacePlan Report

Monroe – population 20,733

HEART OF Monroe: Connecting the Historic, Entertainment, Arts, Residential, and Theater Centers

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.  Read more…

Download PlacePlan Report

Niles – population 11,600

Turn the Corner

Niles is seeking support to understand development opportunities on two key sites along the Saint Joseph River, as well as area planning to link these developments and existing waterfront amenities to the city’s successful Main Street district. Read more…

Download PlacePlan Report 


Saginaw – population 51,508

Asset Inventory and Strategic Prioritization

League staff facilitated development of a “shared strategy” to prioritize possible placemaking activities in the riverfront area and where the community should commit its limited resources. Read more…

Download PlacePlan Report

Sault Sainte Marie – population 14,144

Moloney Alley

Located in the heart of downtown, Moloney Alley would serve as a focal point in the community, acting as a bridge between the Soo Locks tourist attractions and more traditional downtown uses. Read more…

Download PlacePlan Report

Traverse City – population 14,674

City Lot

Traverse City’s West Front Street district has already begun a positive transformation with the recent streetscape project. A new design plan for a vacant city-owned parcel along Kids Creek will help transform the site into a true community space, providing both a focal point and a connection to downtown. Read more…

Download PlacePlan Report

2017 “Where Are They Now?” Project Update

Utica – population 4,757

Downtown Business Passport

Simple tactics, like a passport and shuttle bus, can benefit local shopping any time of the year. This summer, the League worked with the city of Utica to promote walkability and small business shopping during their annual Riverwalk Festival. Read more…

Download Walkability Report