Downtown Farmington announces plans for new park at historic site

What’s happening: Coming off the strength of their successful bid to transform a downtown parking lot into a vibrant pocket park in 2023, Downtown Farmington is once again looking to build a new park atop a long-underutilized space within the downtown footprint. Introducing Masons Corner, a reimagining of the northwest corner of Farmington Road and Grand River Avenue, situated directly in front of the historic Farmington Masonic Lodge.

Backstory: Located at what some might consider the heart of downtown is the future site of Masons Corner, a priority of the city’s since at least 2016 when the proposed redevelopment of the site was included in that year’s Downtown Master Plan. The past few years have seen a slow transition for what used to be little more than a nice lawn in front of the Masonic Lodge, with the Farmington Downtown Development Authority introducing small changes to a site that seems as natural a community gathering space as any downtown. Now the official transformation is set to begin.

Renderings for Masons Corner in downtown Farmington.

What’s planned: Downtown Farmington plans a universally-accessible public space complete with pavers, low fences, and trees and landscaping that blends with the Grand River and Farmington streetscapes. Public art will play a prominent role, with an interactive sculptural swing installed to commemorate the community’s bicentennial. Other features include movable outdoor seating and a fire feature, creating a gathering space for live music and other events. Masons Corner will also be included as part of the city’s social district, The Syndicate.

How they’re doing it: Downtown Farmington began 2023 with the launch of a crowdfunding campaign as part of the Public Spaces Community Places placemaking initiative, a joint effort from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Michigan Municipal League, and Patronicity. Having successfully raised $75,000 and thus securing a corresponding MEDC matching grant, Dinan Park was built and opened later that year.

Downtown Farmington has once again been accepted into the state’s placemaking initiative, having launched a crowdfunding campaign for Masonic Plaza earlier this week. Should they successfully reach their $75,000 goal by Friday, June 7, the MEDC will contribute a $75,000 matching grant to the project.

Learn more about the plans for Masons Corner on Patronicity.

Renderings for Masons Corner in downtown Farmington.

Why it’s important: “The Public Spaces Community Places program enables our community to confidently close the funding gap as we build a long-planned public space in our downtown. We launch this long-planned project in celebration of our bicentennial year, a gathering place that manifests, ‘Welcoming since 1824,’” says Kate Knight, executive director of the Farmington DDA. “Incorporating inclusivity-first best design practices ensures that our Masons Corner, at the historic main intersection of Downtown Farmington, is ready to welcome all people for the next 200 years.”

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