In early 2008, when Downtown Kalamazoo Incorporated (DKI) began the process to update the overall plan for Downtown Kalamazoo it recognized a need for “place-making” activities. Driven by a need to create a vision that responded to community values and recommendations this process sought to preserve all that is great about Downtown Kalamazoo and present new concepts for its continued success.

Within these recommendations are several suggestions on public space, youth and community building that make up the place-making ideals. In building organizational programs around these concepts and the organizational mission statement and examining both the internal and external strengths and weaknesses of this district, there are two areas that with targeted initiatives, will build downtown Kalamazoo as a community, Places & Spaces and Activities for All Ages. Given the current economic situation, there has been significant emphasis placed on creating entertainment opportunities for youth and families that are low or no cost to participants.
Within these categories, specific projects are identified to improve downtown Kalamazoo’s “Sense of Place,” these are identified below.

Places & Spaces

Downtown Planting Plan - Building on the inherent beauty of downtown Kalamazoo through plantings to soften and afford a welcoming setting.
Green Space / Open Space - Improvements to existing open spaces and creation of new green spaces.
Public Art Program - Yet to be fully fleshed out, this program would create outdoor gallery space.
Holiday Décor Program - A comprehensive downtown lighting and décor plan.

Santa’s Village - A goal of upgrading the elves and trees and to better link the village and its activities to the Kalamazoo Mall.
Public Restrooms - To construct previously designed public restrooms in some proximity to parking lot #9, the Kalamazoo Mall and the Arcadia Creek Festival Place.

Activities for All Ages

Blue Skies Program - A program to provide a creative outlet for musicians and performing artists intended to increase street vibrancy.
Children in the City - An initiative intended to cater specifically to the community’s youth and speak to their interests through programmed activities.