10 Alleys and Streetscapes from 10 Years of Patronicity
We share 10 of our favorite alley and streetscape projects since 2013.
2023 marks the 10 year anniversary of Patronicity. This blog is part of a series in honor of our 10 year anniversary, featuring 10 projects from each of our key project types: accessibility, alleys and streetscapes, community centers and venues, education, environmental, events, food and agriculture, gardens and green spaces, public art, parks and playgrounds, public plaza and markets, small businesses, and trails. In this series, we’ll share our favorite, most memorable and successful projects from over the years. We hope these projects will inspire you to become a changemaker and get to work building vibrant communities.
Across the United States, we have worked with communities to turn alleys into allies. Once abandoned, dark, and dingy spaces in the background of our vibrant downtowns, alleyways are now becoming places for people. Project for Public Spaces popularized the power of 10+, “the idea that places thrive when users have a range of reasons (10+) to be there.” Alleys can help to create synergy in communities by providing a variety of reasons to engage with the public space from seating, shade, games, public art, food, drink, music, and more. From rural towns to big cities, here are examples of alley and streetscape activations we’ve helped to launch.
Bates Alley was a little-known, underinvested alley harboring industrial trash bins and traffic blocks along the backside of businesses between key districts in the downtown Kalamazoo area. With the support of the community, Downtown Kalamazoo Inc. successfully launched a crowdfunding campaign to turn Bates Alley into a vibrant, active public space for outdoor dining, events, and community connection. The project turned Bates Alley into a pedestrian promenade with outdoor seating, lighting, trees, benches, and more. The budget also included repairing and repaving the roadway, bollards to limit vehicle access, bike racks, waste receptacles, and signage.
Bates Alley, launched in 2017, was a step forward towards the City of Kalamazoo’s Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 community vision, aiming to create inviting public spaces; events and activities for all ages and interests; and ease of movement in, around, and to Downtown.
By reaching their goal, the project received a matching grant from the Public Spaces Community Places (PSCP) crowdgranting program, a partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).
After a successful temporary pop-up park activation in a parking space, the community looked to create a permanent placemaking activation along George Street in downtown Batesville, Indiana. The campaign, launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, focused on creating a safe outdoor gathering space for residents to gather and to build a vibrant community.
The campaign created and activated two spaces: Inspiration Park and George Street Bump Out. Inspiration Park celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage Movement by honoring the women of Batesville with a lighted sculpture. In addition, the project added seating and landscaping to create a welcoming and inspirational space.
The George Street Bump Out improved the infrastructure from a temporary pop-up into a permanent installation by adding guardrails, concrete with paver banding, café tables and chairs, communal tables, bike racks, and planter boxes.
These outdoor gathering places are now ADA compliant and provide access to Wi-Fi. Both locations are a place to meet up and visit with friends or even hit the many walking and biking trails that connect to downtown.
In 2019, the Three Rivers DDA/Main Street reimagined East Alley into an eclectic pedestrian-friendly gathering place with comfortable seating, decorative lighting, local art, and music. The alley was identified as a key thoroughfare between public parking and restaurants in the downtown area. They aimed to create a space that was welcoming and a place to spend time, whether having a coffee or waiting for a table for dinner.
The project budget included repairing a brick wall lining the alley, creating small patios to be used as stages, string lights, outlets for a variety of public and programmed uses, seating, art, and signage. By reaching their goal, the project received a matching grant from the PSCP crowdgranting program, a partnership with the MEDC.
In 2015, the Flint based nonprofit Friends of the Alley launched a crowdfunding campaign to create a permanent space of Buckham Alley following the growth and success of The Buckham Alley Fest, a large-scale music and art festival. The festival aimed to bring people downtown and beautify pedestrian alleyways. The crowdfunding campaign was launched to permanently light Buckham Alley and install sponsor banners. Although a simple project, the organization hoped that the lighting would create an opportunity for the alley to be used for events more frequently, create a sense of security, and beautify the downtown. By reaching their goal, the project received a matching grant from the PSCP crowdgranting program, a partnership with the MEDC.
The Charlevoix Main Street DDA and its Junior Main Street Committee of Charlevoix High School students collaborated to re-imagine one of downtown Charlevoix's favorite alleys. In 2019, the City of Charlevoix launched a crowdfunding campaign to transform Hoop Skirt Alley into a pedestrian plaza and outdoor gathering place complete with comfortable seating, decorative lighting, art, and plenty of fun.
The alley was reimagined as a place to spend time, relax, and play. The project was planned following recommendations from the Charlevoix Downtown Alley Corridor Vision, created with public feedback gathered in 2017. Public concerns included underutilized and unmaintained alleys and public safety for pedestrian areas.
The project budget included tables, benches, a large chess game, self-watering planters, scooter parking, lighting, public art, bike parking, signage, and a solar powered, self compacting garbage and recycling bin. By reaching their goal, the project received a matching grant from the PSCP crowdgranting program, a partnership with the MEDC.
The Green Alley was the first campaign launched through the PSCP crowdgranting program. Modeled after the Green Garage’s green alley, the long-time home of Patronicity, aimed to create a beautiful and inviting alley in Midtown Detroit. As part of Midtown Detroit’s Green Alley Program, the alley needed to include features such as rain gardens, permeable pavers, historic brick, LED and induction lighting, native landscaping, and other placemaking features. Utilizing green infrastructure reduced storm water burden on the city’s combined sewer system and added visual interest to the space.
“This campaign in 2014 was to test the crowdgranting model on a large scale after partnership with the MEDC. The campaign’s outreach led to increased awareness and a generous $100,000 gift from Shinola Detroit. What started as a small project, ended up being a massive transformation of this overgrown and inaccessible alley to a public public space.” - Ebrahim Varachia
By reaching their goal, the project received a matching grant from the PSCP crowdgranting program, a partnership with the MEDC.
Ohki Alley in Columbia City, Indiana reimagined an empty alley space into a vibrant walkable public space for all. The Whitley County Economic Development Corporation in partnership with the City of Columbia City collaborated to create a design that activates an unused space in the downtown center, providing connectivity throughout the downtown. The adaptable space allows for a variety of community uses with seating, lighting, and dynamic public artwork.
Ohki Alley is named after Mr. Shinzo Ohki, a Japanese immigrant, artist and businessman who came to Columbia City in the early years of the 1900’s. Mr. Ohki built a business that residents of Columbia City and Whitley County reminisce about even more than 40 years after his death. The Oriental Shoyu Factory, often called “Show-You,” located on Factory Avenue, Columbia City, made fermented soy sauce, mung bean sprouts, chow mein noodles, chop suey and Jiggs’ corn beef and cabbage. It was one of the first fermented soy sauce factories in the US. The alley honors Ohki’s legacy and impact on the community.
By reaching their goal, the project received a matching grant from the Creating Places crowdgranting program, a partnership with the IHCDA.
In 2017, the Howell DDA launched a crowdfunding campaign to reimagine one of Howell’s favorite alleys. The campaign transformed Peanut Row Alley into a pedestrian plaza and outdoor art gallery complete with comfortable seating, decorative lighting, and public art. The community had been asked for feedback and requested art, seating, games, lighting, and flowers to attract them to spend time in downtown alleys.
The completed project included bistro and bench seating, a large chess game, planters, an interactive chalkboard, and lighting. By reaching their goal, the project received a matching grant from the PSCP crowdgranting program, a partnership with the MEDC.
A once empty alley was reimagined into a downtown destination in Warsaw, Indiana. The community turned to Patronicity to crowdfund the alleyway of their dreams and transform a vehicle pass-through into a destination for residents and visitors. The City successfully developed the Warsaw Alley, which now provides a place for the community to gather with seating, greenery, local artwork, and Wi-Fi access.
The budget included public art, bike racks, seating, decorative paving, sun shades, landscaping and public Wi-Fi. By reaching their goal, the project received a matching grant from the Creating Places crowdgranting program, a partnership with the IHCDA.
The community of Tipton, Indiana came together to crowdfund the redevelopment of a downtown alleyway into an exciting community gathering space. The alley now provides an engaging gathering place for residents and visitors to meet friends, a place to enjoy the fares of local restaurants, and enjoy downtown.
The budget included removing the existing asphalt, installing stamped concrete, an archway, public art, seating, lighting, outdoor heaters, and landscaping. By reaching their goal, the project received a matching grant from the Creating Places crowdgranting program, a partnership with the IHCDA.