Better Streets, Better Michigan award winning project

Commercial and Division Streets Streetscape-Dowagiac, Michigan

The Wightman team is a strategic partner with the City of Dowagiac, working closely to enhance lifestyle and improve downtown public and green spaces for residents and visitors. Our planning and consulting services were needed for a City of Dowagiac undertaking coined as the "Quality of Life Projects." The QoL document included 15 different projects that would impact the city and surrounding areas. Beginning with the end in mind, Wightman planning was focused on creating more vibrant places throughout the community. 

The 15 projects were prioritized based upon their potential impact. Wightman provided criteria to guide this process, which included among others preliminary design, programming, funding opportunities, and cost estimation. Three of these projects were combined into the Commercial and Division Streets project and were designed and constructed.

The City of Dowagiac, as well as the Downtown Business District, provided opportunities for public space through placemaking. Two abandoned buildings were demolished to open up Beckwith Commons as a pocket park and parking lot surrounded by prominent buildings: Dowagiac Public Library, the Post Office, and Beckwith Theatre. The Streetscape Project for Commercial Street focused on decreasing the design speed, improving turning movements onto M-51 (Division St.), increasing pedestrian accessibility with universal design, and beautifucation of the streetscape along an MDOT thoroughfare in town. A major piece of this effort was the incorporation of “Downtown Identity,” a series of obelisks and retaining walls that will be bases for future art installations and identify major entry points to Dowagiac’s Downtown District. 

This collaborative effort between the City of Dowagiac, its residents, and Wightman received statewide recognition; Dowagiac was honored to receive the first ever Better Streets, Better Michigan award presented by the Michigan Municipal League and Michigan Department of Transportation.