HEART of Monroe: Connecting the Historic, Entertainment, Arts, Residential, and Theater Centers

Monroe Visioning 2

Downtown Monroe faces the challenge of being sliced apart by high-traffic roadways, most notably the five lanes of Monroe Street (M-125). With the larger portion of downtown east of Monroe Street, the blocks just to the west face challenges of getting visitors and customers to the front doors of their destinations.

In 2015, the City of Monroe requested technical assistance through the PlacePlans program to identify how an alley that runs parallel to Monroe Street, through these blocks, could be used to improve access to this part of downtown for all users.

This PlacePlan offers a strategy for not only improving access to this part of downtown but also creating new public spaces that can connect and strengthen the businesses and cultural destinations around them. By rebuilding the deteriorating alley as a shared space and pedestrian way, the city of Monroe can improve access to businesses, strengthen downtown’s connection to the river, and bring activity to hidden and unused scraps of land. At the same time, a new design for the alley is a chance to improve basic functions like trash collection, stormwater drainage, and lighting.

HEART of Monroe - Concept Design

In addition to the concept plan for the alley and adjacent spaces, the report also lays out a strategy of policy updates, funding opportunities, and ongoing engagement and programming that can move the concept towards reality. While the concep­tual design is ambitious and will require an ongoing commitment over some years to be fully implemented, the City of Monroe and its partners throughout the community can pursue some of these steps immediately.

Monroe was one of seven communities chosen to receive technical placemaking assistance through the 2015 PlacePlans program. PlacePlans is a collaboration of the Michigan Municipal League and the MSU School of Planning, Design, and Construction, and is funded by MSHDA.

View more Michigan Municipal League photos of The HEART of Monroe PlacePlan project here in this set on flickr. 

In the news!

Final draft of possible future of alleyways shown at meetingOct. 17, 2015, Monroe News
Alley plan final draft to be unveiledOct. 13, 2015, Monroe News
Temporary mural to be painted in Monroe alleyJuly 17, 2015, Monroe News
Cafes, colorful murals proposed for Monroe’s stretch of alleyways April 25, 2015, Monroe News
Monroe community workshop planned for alley work – April 20, 2015, Monroe News
Monroe alley may become pedestrian walkway – Feb. 15, 2015, Monroe News
Monroe among seven communities selected for PlacePlans Work – Feb. 6, 2015,
Monroe selected for PlacePlans work – Feb. 4, 2015, Press Release,