LPI Helped Engage the Public in the October MMPGS Michigan Ave./Grand River Ave. Design Charrette

After numerous public workshops, technical meetings and countless conversations that spanned eight days, the Michigan Avenue/Grand River Avenue Charrette took another step forward in October 2013.

After numerous public workshops, technical meetings and countless conversations that spanned eight days, the Michigan Avenue/Grand River Avenue Charrette took another step forward in October 2013, by completing the second phase of the visioning process begun in May with a multi-day Charrette.

The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, through the Mid-Michigan Program for Greater Sustainability (MMPGS), in partnership with the MSU Land Policy Institute’s (LPI) Planning & Zoning Center (PZC), The National Charrette Institute and Dover, Kohl & Partners, as well as other community partners, coordinated the recent Design Charrette. Funding for the project was provided by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD)and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), as well as other local partners. This Charrette process is part of the HUD grant that the Tri-County Planning Commission and partners received in 2011.

In this most recent phase, the Charrette focused on visioning for the neighborhoods and properties immediately adjacent to Sparrow Hospital, Frandor and the Meridian Mall. The greater project spans from the State Capitol to Webberville, along Michigan and Grand River Avenues, and aims to make the west half of the corridor denser and more vibrant with more diverse commercial and residential opportunities. From the Meridian Mall east the corridor would retain its rural agricultural character, except in Williamston and Webberville where efforts would continue to strengthen the existing small-town character with additional placemaking improvements.

The Design Charrette process relied heavily on input from the community through eight workshops that were held on various spots along the corridor from October 22-30, 2013.

“It’s a good way to have regular people interact with designers and planners, sketch up ideas and draw a viewable future for areas along the corridor,” said Susan Pigg, Executive Director of the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission in the Lansing State Journal on October 23, 2013.

Residents indicated a desire for more “green space” and called for a more “welcoming” and “accessible” dense development along Michigan Avenue at Frandor, which was unanimously viewed as a “gateway” to the Lansing and East Lansing areas. Stakeholders also recommended “mixed use” and “easy access to other businesses” with a strong emphasis on “transit-oriented urban development” at and along both sides of Grand River Ave. at the Meridian Mall.

An overarching theme of the Design Charrette was excitement over the proposed installation of a bus rapid transit system from the State Capitol building to the Meridian Mall with stops at roughly quarter-mile increments along the Michigan and Grand River Avenues.

Mark Wyckoff, Senior Associate Director of the MSU Land Policy Institute and Director of the PZC said, "The second Charrette validated and built upon the broad public support for transit-oriented development and a Complete Streets-approach to transportation improvements along the corridor. All users would be respected and accommodated if the vision identified with broad public input were to be implemented. That means pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders and motorists. The character of the corridor would change the most around Sparrow, Frandor and the Mall if three to four new mixed-use buildings were constructed as envisioned by the public and illustrated by the talented team that Dover, Kohl & Partners has assembled."

LPI’s and PZC’s Involvement in the Charrette
The Planning & Zoning Center and LPI staff and students provided technical assistance, consulting services and helped engage local stakeholders in both of the Vision and Design Charrettes. Separately, as part of the Tri-County project, the PZC produced a Corridor Design Portfolio that includes a Best Practices Guidebook illustrated with examples of sustainable development along the corridor. 

The Design Charrette team is currently engaged in producing a detailed plan based on the final presentation from October 30 and the collective input obtained from community members and stakeholders during the entire week. Products from the Charrette will be posted at Michigan Avenue/Grand River Avenue Charrette website. A draft of the final planning document will be presented to the community in February 2014.

Learn more about the process behind the two Charrette’s at the Michigan Avenue/Grand River Avenue Charrette. To follow and provide input on the Charrette project, check out their Facebook and Twitter pages.

More information is also available at the Mid-Michigan Program for Greater Sustainability, and you can follow them on Facebook and Twitter too.

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