Muskegon Pine Street Business District Executive Summary and Poster


June 14, 2023 - Ahmad Behzad, Alex Johnson, Faith Vignola, Rashane Thapa, Shuangshuang Fu

Business districts and urban corridors play a crucial role in the local economy, serving as hubs for economic activity, community engagement, and social interaction. The Pine Street Business District, situated in the vibrant city of Muskegon, is a renowned business district known for its unique charm and bustling corridor lined with antique shops, making it a popular destination for visitors and locals alike. However, the district faces several challenges that hinder its full potential. The key challenges faced by Pine Street Business District are:

  1. Lack of Streetscape Elements: The streetscape of Pine Street needs improvement to enhance the pedestrian experience and make the district more walkable.
  2. Lack of Social Spaces: The district lacks social spaces, which are essential for community engagement and vibrancy.

  3. Degraded Façade along the Corridor: The façades of buildings along the Pine Street corridor are in poor condition, affecting the overall appearance of the district and its attractiveness to visitors.

  4. Underutilized and Vacant Parcels: The presence of underutilized and vacant parcels of land in the district presents both opportunities and challenges for revitalization efforts.

Strengths and opportunities can be leveraged to drive positive change in the district. The strengths of the Pine Street Business District include progressive community values, existing businesses such as local vintage and antique shops, participation culture and strong social ties, proximity to Downtown and Lake Muskegon, and parcels with historical significance for the African American Community. There are also opportunities such as vacant parcels for development, potential opportunities for public-private partnerships, collaboration with Downtown Development Authority and the Chamber of Commerce, and the presence of Form-Based Code, which can facilitate revitalization efforts.

At the city level, there are also opportunities and threats that need to be considered. Opportunities include the demand for housing, while threats include decreasing population, possible recontamination of Lake Muskegon, low higher education attainment among the population aged 25 and over, and limited funding opportunities and tight competition.

The market analysis of the area reveals several opportunities for new business types to add/expand in the region. The results of market analysis indicate that healthcare is a prominent industry in Muskegon and its surrounding areas, with numerous healthcare facilities and hospitals in the area. Clothing and Hobby/Book/Music stores could be potential business types to add or expand in the region, as substantial leakage values exist for both these business types, indicating higher local demand than current supply. Additionally, there is a substantial demand for General Merchandise Stores in the downtown Muskegon and the majority of the city of Muskegon, suggesting the potential to add more businesses of this type in the area.

The Practicum team has worked closely in collaboration with the City of Muskegon to develop a comprehensive improvement plan for the Pine Street business district. The Pine Street Business District Improvement Plan aims to address the challenges, leverage strengths and opportunities, and tap into the market potential to revitalize the Pine Street Business District, promote economic growth, enhance the pedestrian experience, and create vibrant social spaces. By fostering collaboration among stakeholders, implementing innovative solutions, and leveraging available resources, the Pine Street Business District can become a thriving and sustainable business corridor that benefits the local community and the overall economy of Muskegon.

The plan is divided into three parts, each offering recommendations for streetscape improvement, façade improvement, and infill development.

Part one of the recommendations focuses on streetscape improvement, proposing the implementation of the "complete streets" concept by adding streetscape elements such as street trees, lighting, signs, banners, and parklets along the Pine Street corridor. This will enhance the pedestrian experience, make the district more walkable, and address the challenges of lack of streetscape elements and social spaces.

Part two of the recommendations includes façade improvement guidelines, outlining the implementation and promotion of the Façade Improvement Program. The Practicum team suggests further development and promotion of the program, along with design guidelines for improving the façade of existing buildings or new developments. This will help improve the overall appearance of the district and address the challenge of degraded façades along the corridor.

Part three of the recommendations focuses on infill development, proposing the schematic design of three buildings for vacant parcels in the district. These buildings will serve different purposes, including a landmark building to address market gaps, and two buildings with historical significance to the African American community to address housing demands with both rental and for-sale units. This section also encompasses comprehensive guidelines for temporary use interventions, which involve strategic public and private partnerships, as an effective approach to implementing temporary usage or temporary urbanism on vacant parcels that may not be immediately ready for full-scale development.

Lastly, the Practicum Team proposes a framework for establishing a business improvement association within the district, along with bylaws for its operation, in response to the City of Muskegon’s request.

By implementing these recommendations, the Pine Street business district can overcome its challenges, leverage its strengths and opportunities, and foster economic growth, community engagement, and vibrancy.


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