Placemaking in Grand Rapids

The emergence of millennials, young professionals, and the start-up community has brought along with it a focus on placemaking and increased urban awareness.  In Grand Rapids, specifically, these groups hold a great deal of priority towards building up our downtown urban centers, bettering the community to keep young professionals here and convince others to move in, and utilizing the infrastructure that makes our corner of Michigan a gem of a city.

First and foremost, what is placemaking?

The Project for Public Spaces defines placemaking as “a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces. Put simply, it involves looking at, listening to, and asking questions of the people who live, work and play in a particular space, to discover their needs and aspirations. This information is then used to create a common vision for that place.”

At a forum on placemaking hosted by Rapid Growth Media, speakers from around the city talked about the idea and what it means for Grand Rapids.

Panelists agreed that placemaking in Grand Rapids is focused on the two top priorities for individuals to make a living here, employment and education.  Therefore, bettering our public schools and utilizing what is needed to create job opportunity is, and remains, the focus for all Grand Rapidians.

Placemaking allows cities to take buildings that are vacant or run-down and turn them into new, modern, and innovative public spaces.  In other words, placemaking has the potential to be the most innovative and transformative focus for this century, as it exploits our community’s assets, potential, and inspiration.  Conducive to the drive and vision of the Grand Rapids community, placemaking is the answer for those of us truly in love with the places in our lives.

In tune to what Grand Rapids, one of the true Midwest gems, is providing for its residents and the state of Michigan, the New York Times recently highlighted an example of how our community is using placemaking as a catapult for further community engagement and enrichment.  Our Downtown Market, due to open the Summer of 2013, will revitalize that side of downtown Grand Rapids and provide a plethora of opportunity for the area.

How is placemaking successful in your community?

Photo credit: Michigan Municipal League

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