Jackson PlacePlan

Downtown Jackson Alleyway


The Downtown Jackson Alleyway PlacePlan used input from residents and business owners at multiple community meetings to develop concepts for a four-block downtown alleyway running south from the farmers’ market to the transit center. Improving the alley to provide an attractive pedestrian connection within the city’s downtown will allow for new businesses to develop and activities to be staged along the corridor, while building on adjacent streetscaping efforts to continue making all of downtown Jackson an attractive destination.

The alley plan provided design elements to link destinations along the alley, drawing on Jackson’s artistic community, industrial heritage, and the Grand River to create a unique place. The plan identified locations where adjacent business owners could leverage the alley for additional customer access, outdoor restaurant seating, or rooftop patio overlooks. Additionally, the plan provided a range of recommendations for building on the area’s existing cultural, entrepreneurial, and natural assets to strengthen downtown as a whole.

Since the PlacePlan was delivered in September 2014, Jackson has completed a major street reconstruction project along its main street, Michigan Avenue. Marketed as Dig Jackson, the 16-month, $3 million project included the replacement of century-old water and sewer lines, the burial of electric and gas utilities, and the addition of infrastructure for future fiber-optic lines. At street level, a full rebuild of Michigan Avenue provided new streetscaping which includes enhanced curb bump-outs at intersections, new landscaping, and more options for placement of public seating and art. MML staff, along with the Michigan State University School of Planning, Design, and Construction, coordinated efforts with the Dig Jackson consultant team to ensure that the final streetscape design was compatible with future plans for the alley. Indeed, one feature of the new Michigan Avenue streetscape is a slightly raised crosswalk, sometimes called a “speed table”, that allows alley pedestrians to cross Michigan Avenue without having to step down onto the level of the street.

Along the alley itself, a prominent downtown business owner has restored the building on the northwest corner of the alley’s intersection with Michigan Avenue to be a new restaurant, which is scheduled to open in early 2016. In step with a design recommendation in the PlacePlan, the owner received permission from the city to construct a permanent patio seating area within the alley. In addition, overhead lit archways were installed along this section of the alley, immediately creating a sense of place, and inviting people to further explore this developing corridor.


Jonathan Greene, Executive Director, Jackson Downtown Development Authority, 517-788-4035

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