Farmington opens up downtown design and improvement plans to public discussion

As the construction of the streetscape improvement project of Oakland Street continues in downtown Farmington, city leaders are in the midst of determining what comes next.

Though they’re not the only ones that take such projects seriously. Many Farmington residents, business owners, and stakeholders show just as much interest in their downtown.

That’s why the Farmington Downtown Development Authority has organized the first of what could become a recurring series of informative public discussions on downtown placemaking.

Design Discussion Downtown: Farmington Considers Public Space debuts at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 1 at the Farmington Civic Theater. The event is free, open to the public, and features complimentary Civic Theater popcorn.

"There’s a lot of curiosity, a lot of interest in what’s happening in downtown Farmington. Downtowns are hot right now," says Kate Knight, Director of the Farmington DDA.

"There are discussions happening everywhere regarding placemaking. We’re looking to create a place where everyone wants to be."

The event features a panel of presenters that include Mayor Steve Schneemann, architect Sue Grissim of Grissim Metz and Associates, Birmingham commissioner Mark Nickita, and Kate Knight of the Farmington DDA.

The presenters will examine the value of investing in public space, highlighting past and present projects while discussing potential future projects that could improve downtown Farmington.

Such projects could include improved pathways between downtown and Shiawassee Park, redeveloping the vacant Maxfield Training Center into residential units, public art opportunities, and streetscape improvements for Farmington Road.

"It’s been a decade since the Grand River streetscape improvements. That project has been instrumental to our success. With investing in public space, you have to take an ‘If you build it, they will come’ approach," Knight says.

"More than 70 businesses have invested in downtown since that Grand River project. I can’t wait to see what happens if we did the same thing for Farmington Road."

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.