The City of Monroe and the Monroe Downtown Development Authority partnered to develop a new Downtown Master Plan, which provides a blueprint for the next generation of revitalization in the downtown district.  The process included a parking study component to assess current conditions and to recommend adaptations to the parking system for optimum efficiency and enhanced capacity.  We think it's better to take the lead and guide the change than to let it happen without a vision.  Let's continue with the revitalization process.

The Downtown Master Plan effort was guided by a Study Group, comprised of a variety of downtown stakeholders, including the Citizens Planning Commission, Historic District Commission, property owners, the City Council, Monroe County and more.

Goals for the project include coalescing existing planning documents into one holistic, comprehensive plan; positioning the downtown for readiness and efficiency for developer interest; emphasizing pedestrian access and connectedness; improving ability to attract quality and sustainable growth; promote the creation of a variety of public spaces; conducting a current parking audit and future needs assessment; and creating an action-oriented implementation plan.

For this work, the City engaged urban planning firm MKSK as the lead consultant. The master planning process concluded in the spring of 2018, with approval by the Citizens Planning Commission by October, 2018.

About the Consulting Team


As planners, urban designers and landscape architects, MKSK blends the art and science of land planning, place-making, urban design, and transportation. MKSK planners have worked in numerous downtowns across the state including Portage, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Ann Arbor, Midland, Farmington, Highland Park, and East Grand Rapids; along with cities outside Michigan such as Findlay, Akron, and Toledo, and many others. We look forward to working with the Monroe community on developing a common vision for the future of Downtown Monroe that encourages reinvestment, attracts multiple generations, restores storefronts, grows the tax base, and activates streetscapes.   

Planning Team

For this project, MKSK has brought in two nationally known experts – Nelson\Nygaard for parking management and Gibbs Planning for downtown economic development strategies. Nelson\Nygaard is a leader in downtown parking management from coast to coast including other Michigan cities like Marquette and Traverse City. Gibbs Planning is based in Birmingham, MI, but also brings a national credential for performing market studies and economic development strategies. Gibbs Planning will provide recommendations to help businesses grow their market share and attract development.


Best Practices Summit - December 7 & 8, 2017

National experts from the planning team joined us for two sessions open to the public to share best practices and relevant case studies on parking, transportation, placemaking, design, and economic development relevant to Downtown Monroe. 

Community Open House - Wednesday, March 21, 2018

An evening of discussion about what has been learned and what solutions may be recommended.  The public was invited to share feedback through a survey about prioritization of projects.

Presentation to City Council, Monroe DDA and Citizens Planning Commission - Monday, June 4, 2018



It's a blueprint for the next generation of revitalization in Downtown Monroe.  It integrates previous planning efforts, builds upon existing assets and leverages planned and future investments within and adjacent to the downtown.  The draft plan includes background information, an existing conditions assessment, a summary of community engagement processes, a planning vision, and identification of key sites for development and implementation strategies.


The vision described in the plan revolves around seven planning principles, each of which outlines solutions to challenges identified during the assessment and public input phases.

  1. Calm downtown streets and increase pedestrian activity
  2. Make parking easier for visitors, residents, and workers
  3. Upgrade the public realm
  4. Activate storefronts
  5. Improve access to, and attractiveness of, the Riverwalk
  6. lnfill vacant and underutilized lots
  7. Take advantage of unique history and architecture


A public hearing by the Citizens Planning Commission tentatively is scheduled for Monday, September 10, 2018.  The CPC will publish a notice of public hearing 15 days prior.

Read the draft plan.   Part I.   Part II.


The plan includes a framework for the implementation of the Downtown Master Plan.  The strategic recommendations, project phasing, additional organization capacity and planning partners needed to implement the plan are outlined and explained.

The framework, or matrix, is intended as a flexible tool to help monitor success and should be used as a workig tool.  The DDA Board will conduct an annual review to track progress, refine the project descriptions and adjust priorities.  Priorities may change as different funding options become available or as redevelopment occurs.

Representative projects include improving gateways that signal arrival into the downtown district, implementing traffic calming measures on Monroe Street, establishing simplified regulations for on-street parking, adding public art, adding more outdoor seating, enhancing the Farmers Market, creating streetscape design standards, implementing alley improvements from the Heart of Monroe plan, extending the Riverwalk through Soldiers and Sailors Park, implementing wayfinding, improving public green spaces and pursuing in-fill development as opportunities arise.