Construction of new public space, the Bridgman Courtyard, planned for downtown Bridgman

What’s happening: At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated shutdowns, communities were forced to get creative in order to draw people back to their downtown businesses. Some of those innovations in placemaking proved so popular that they stuck around, like a humble parking lot-turned-community gathering space in downtown Bridgman. That relatively new public space, now called the Bridgman Courtyard, is about to become a permanent addition to the Lake Michigan beach town.

Innovations in placemaking: The Bridgman Courtyard is included in the footprint of another Michigan innovation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the social district. Social districts allow for the consumption of alcoholic beverages in designated areas outside and on city streets in participating communities.

Renderings via Patronicity

What’s planned: Currently a handful of shaded picnic tables atop a downtown parking lot, the Bridgman Courtyard is set to become a permanent outdoor gathering space with the addition of a wooden pergola; bistro lighting; public artworks; new landscaping and seating; and more. Also planned is a 400 sq. ft. rug mural designed and painted by the Bridgman High School art students, funded by a Bridge Builders Main Street Microgrant from the Michigan Municipal League Foundation. A free outdoor concert series is scheduled, and the space will be available for pop-up markets, holiday celebrations, and more.

How they’re doing it: The Bridgman Courtyard project has been accepted into the Public Spaces Community Places program, a placemaking initiative from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Should project organizers successfully raise $50,000 through a crowdfunding campaign, the MEDC will contribute an additional $50,000 matching grant.

The crowdfunding campaign has until April 10 to raise the $50,000, which is being hosted on the Michigan-based Patronicity platform.

Renderings via Patronicity

What they’re saying: “This project will transform an underutilized lot into the Bridgman Courtyard, a thriving public space that will bring activity and energy to the heart of downtown Bridgman,” says MEDC Executive Vice President of Economic Development Incentives Michele Wildman. “We are pleased to support and provide resources for this project to complete the space through our Public Spaces Community Places program.”

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