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Press Release


Contact:

Matt Bach
Director of Media Relations
Michigan Municipal League
(734) 669-6317; C: (810) 874-1073
mbach@mml.org; www.mml.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 9, 2016

PlacePlans for Benton Harbor, Boyne City, Lathrup Village, Monroe, Niles, Saginaw, and Traverse City Now Available

Michigan Municipal League posts project at placemaking.mml.org

ANN ARBOR, Michigan — The Michigan Municipal League released the finalized PlacePlans for seven communities today. Communities selected for this year’s PlacePlans program were Benton Harbor, Boyne City, Lathrup Village, Monroe, Niles, Saginaw, and Traverse City.

In addition, information about grants to implement similar PlacePlans in Allegan, Dearborn, Kalamazoo, and Sault Sainte Marie are also available. You can check them all out here: http://placemaking.mml.org/place-plans/.

“Our communities already have so many great assets and the PlacePlans year-long process focuses on an existing asset and recommends ways to make it even better,” said League CEO and Executive Director Dan Gilmartin. “The plans also reflect the needs and wants of the local community members who were involved throughout the process. We’re excited about the opportunities and possibilities the plans represent in these communities.”

PlacePlans is a joint effort between the Michigan Municipal League and Michigan State University School of Planning, Design and Construction, and is led at the state agency level by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). It is a program to help communities design and implement transformative placemaking projects to focus economic development efforts around walkable downtown districts.

“The PlacePlans program fosters collaboration from local individuals to make their communities feel like home. It’s inspiring to see the innovative and creative work generated by leaders and residents in these communities—Benton Harbor, Boyne City, Lathrup Village, Monroe, Niles, Saginaw, and Traverse City,” said Gary Heidel, chief placemaking officer for MSHDA. “Hopefully these PlacePlans can become reality and build upon the positive placemaking work already happening in these cities.”

This current round of PlacePlans work began about a year ago when the seven communities were selected to receive technical assistance from university faculty and students, professional consultants, and League staff.

Here is a review of the seven PlacePlans with links to the final reports for each community:

Benton Harbor: The “Square 1” concept envisions a design for Dwight Pete Mitchell City Center Park—a symbolic center for Ben­ton Harbor, serving as a public green and community gathering space right on Main Street in the heart of downtown. The concept supports the vision of the community for a park that brings people together from all parts of Benton Harbor. Recommendations: The concept includes a permanent stage area and events lawn; a shelter along 6th Street for community events, farmers markets, and other uses; and quieter sitting areas. View the report: http://placemaking.mml.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/PlacePlans2015_BentonHarbor_Final.pdf.pdf

Boyne City: The final “Boyne on the Water” concept is both a vision for improving Boyne City’s waterfront public space and a placemaking strategy to improve on the success of the downtown. It includes a conceptual design for four distinct properties and connections between them, recommendations for policy updates that can support the design, and a discussion of funding opportunities. Recommendations: The plan calls for preserving public access to the waterfront; assessing and managing parking needs; encouraging year-round activity on the waterfront; and adopting and enforcing property maintenance standards. View the report: http://placemaking.mml.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/PlacePlans_BoyneCity-reduced.pdf

Lathrup Village: The “enLiVen Lathrup” concept involved park spaces in the village center area around the city hall. Recommendations: The plan calls for public green spaces that run parallel to Southfield Road, behind the city hall and privately-owned historic school. The design concept shows how this park land can be enhanced to best serve its role as the emotional center of the community. View the report: http://placemaking.mml.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/PlacePlans_LathrupVillage-low-res.pdf

Monroe: “The HEART of Monroe” work focused on a downtown alley that connects key assets in the city. The downtown businesses and cultural institutions west of South Monroe Street struggle with limited access for visitors, customers, and deliveries. City staff identified the alley behind these buildings as an opportunity to improve access while also strengthening a sense of place. Recommendations: The plan calls for preserving the alley’s functionality; making it inviting through lighting, public art, historical exhibits, and green spaces; providing a safe and attractive pedestrian route to businesses and cultural destinations from nearby parking areas; and incorporating Monroe’s unique identity. The improved alley also creates a link from this part of downtown to the city’s Riverwalk and River Raisin Heritage Trail. View the report: http://placemaking.mml.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/PlacePlans2015_Monroe_FINAL.pdf

Niles: The “Turn the Corner: Niles PlacePlan” centered on preferred development scenarios and financial estimates for key redevelopment sites. Recommendations: Development scenarios were made for three key properties, including concept plans, renderings, and construction cost estimates, as well as an analysis of zoning changes that will be needed to enable these developments. View the report: http://placemaking.mml.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/PlacePlans_Niles_low_res.pdf

Saginaw: The city’s “PlacePlan: Riverfront Saginaw” developed a shared strategy to prioritize possible placemaking activities in the riverfront area and where the community should commit its limited resources. Recommendations: Following numerous community meetings and events involving hundreds of Saginaw-area residents, multiple priorities were established, including improving connectivity between riverfront destinations, attracting and supporting entrepreneurs, and creating an urban homestead program. View the report: http://placemaking.mml.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Saginaw-PlacePlans-low-res.pdf

Traverse City: The Traverse City “City Lot” PlacePlan focused on the city’s West Front Street district, which already was under a positive transformation with the recent streetscape project. This, along with the planned rebuild of the West Front Street Bridge, lays the foundation for a corridor that becomes an area that is not just for vehicles passing through on the way in and out of downtown, but is its own hub of business and social activity. Recommendations: Four key suggestions were proposed, including revising and adopting form-based code; prioritizing and marketing infill development opportunities, identifying a realistic, phased approach for the transformation of City Lot, and applying City Lot lessons to public participation in other projects. View the report: http://www.traversecitymi.gov/plancurrentproje.asp

View and download photos of some of the PlacePlans work in progress here in this collection on flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/michigancommunities/collections/72157651065098021/.

For more information, go to placemaking.mml.org or contact Matt Bach, League director of media relations, at 734-669-6317 or mbach@mml.org.

The Michigan Municipal League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington, D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services.

About Michigan Municipal League:
Michigan Municipal League is dedicated to making Michigan’s communities better by thoughtfully innovating programs, energetically connecting ideas and people, actively serving members with resources and services, and passionately inspiring positive change for Michigan’s greatest centers of potential: its communities. The League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington, D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services. Learn more at mml.org.

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