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June 24, 2014

Land Policy Institute releases study of placemaking views and values of 11 Midwest cities

A report detailing the views and values of placemaking in Michigan, the Midwest and the nation is now available from the MSU Land Policy Institute. Rebuilding Prosperous Places in Michigan brings together much of the findings from various studies on place-based development and digs even deeper into issues of demand and value.

The study found that, at the national level, people believe that there is a connection between placemaking and economic development, as well as between placemaking and quality of life. Their perceptions about whether their neighborhood and community are better places to live now than five years ago appears to be associated with place-based characteristics, such as visual appeal, mixed-use, shopping, social activities, bike lanes or paths/trails, arts and culture experiences and public transportation.

Despite the apparent support for placemaking, there is still ambivalence about the pros and cons of living in denser, busier communities, particularly among the rural and suburban respondents. Many people indicated a preference for rural and suburban locations, larger lots, suburban parks and a separation of other types of land use from housing.

Across the Midwest cities, close proximity to some amenities, like schools, theatres, bookstores and gift shops, appeared to be positively related to home sale price. In addition, some elements of place-based development, like parks and recreation, shade trees, having great neighbors and a high-quality look and feel of a walk in the neighborhood, also added to home prices in these 11 cities.

However, proximity to other amenities, like grocery stores, restaurants, museums and department stores, appeared to be negatively related to home sale price. Altogether, these results suggest that there isn't likely a "perfect mix" of place amenities that will lead to quality of life and economic improvement in every community.

While this study does suggest support for placemaking, and for certain place-based characteristics like walkability and green space, it is clear that there remains a need for education about the benefits and process of effective placemaking. The MIplace Partnership Initiative is helping to educate and train the myriad stakeholder groups in Michigan involved in placemaking at the local and regional level.

Through these efforts, Michigan can achieve urban core places that have good function and form, generate social activity, evoke positive feelings among residents and visitors, and attract and retain the knowledge and creative resources necessary to a thriving economy.

Questions regarding this study should be sent to Mary Beth Graebert, LPI's associate director for programs and operations, at or call (517) 355-3378.