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Press Release


Matt Bach
Director of Media Relations
Michigan Municipal League
(734) 669-6317; C: (810) 874-1073;


Turn the Corner: Niles PlacePlan Now Available Online

Michigan Municipal League posts project at

ANN ARBOR, Michigan — The Turn the Corner: Niles PlacePlan project is now available for public viewing at

The Michigan Municipal League posted the Niles PlacePlan report today after previously posting the PlacePlans projects from six other communities (Benton Harbor, Boyne City, Lathrup Village, Monroe, Saginaw, and Traverse City). 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:

The League’s Richard Murphy will give a presentation on the final Niles PlacePlan 6-8 p.m. April 5 at the Niles Public Safety Facility, 1600 Silverbrook Ave., Niles.

“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 Niles was among seven communities selected to receive technical assistance from university faculty and students, professional consultants, and League staff.

In Niles, League staff facilitated work on preferred development scenarios and financial estimates for key redevelopment sites. The work also involved a consultant team led by Mark Miller of Nederveld Inc. and Lynee Wells of Williams and Works.

Like many of Michigan’s older cities, Niles has seen little new construction in recent years. The city requested assistance from the League in positioning three city-owned properties for development, intending to set a pattern that can be followed on other sites. The PlacePlan revolves around preferred scenarios for these parcels: the “old YMCA site” on the northeast corner of Main and State Streets, the “old public safety site” at the southwest corner of 3rd Street and Broadway, and the “Water Street block”, on the west side of Front Street between Sycamore and Ferry Streets.  All three sites overlook the St. Joseph River and sit just beyond the edges of the city’s Main Street district, offering opportunities to grow the active core of the city.

“We have numerous areas in Niles that have tremendous potential. The Niles PlacePlans work helped us focus and prioritize options moving forward,” said Sanya Philips, Niles community development director. “Plus, we wanted to build on the existing assets of the community, such as the St. Joseph River.”

Specifically, the Niles PlacePlan report includes recommended development scenarios for each of these three 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.

“Each site concept will require refinement by the ultimate developer, but these concepts provide the foundation for development that will both take advantage of Niles’ placemaking assets and serve as catalysts for further investment,” Philips said. “This work sets our community up nicely for the future.”

Because successful urban development relies on good public spaces—and vice versa—the Niles PlacePlan also includes recommendations for the streets around these target sites.  High-quality streets that serve all users will maximize the attractiveness of development at these sites, whether for residents who want to stroll downtown for an evening outing or for new businesses seeking customer traffic. Finally, the plan includes a strategy for using these concepts in coordination with a residential target market study and state incentive programs to give development the best chance of success.

View the Niles PlacePlan:

For more information, go to or contact Matt Bach, League director of media relations, at 734-669-6317 or

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




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