A look at the present and future of downtown Jackson ~ By Bonnie Gretzner THINKING BIG The Master Plan has been in the works since 2012, even before the former Consumers Energy building at 212 W. Michigan Ave. was demolished. The City, which owned the property, initially looked at an interim use for the property and held a competition among three firms to come up with the best plan for the now expanded Blackman Park. “We asked them to give us temporary and permanent ideas,” said Patrick Burtch, Jackson’s City Manager and member of the Planning Commission. “Beckett & Raeder showed us a rendition that blew us away. That’s what started this whole process.” The illustrations created by Beckett & Raeder have been critical in helping people envision a grander, greener, more vibrant downtown, said Burtch. “Many people are very linear in T ree-lined streets, multilevel parking structures, new businesses, residential apartments – all are part of the new vision for downtown Jackson. The following pages feature renderings from the Jackson Community Master Plan. Adopted by the Jackson City Planning Commission in May 2016, the plan has been years in the making, and continues to evolve. The City retained Beckett & Raeder Inc., an Ann Arbor-based landscape architecture, planning, engineering and environmental services firm, to assist in creating the plan. As an example, this page shows how W. Michigan Ave., the downtown stretch between Mechanic and Jackson streets, could look, with a multistory residential building with a parking garage behind it. their thinking. When you look at a flat plan, you see it in one dimension. That’s why we do this. We’re trying to get people excited, so they can look at this, and say, ‘That can be done.’” Burtch added, “The nucleus of this entire community – not just the City of Jackson – is this downtown core. If it’s not healthy, the rest of it dies a slow death. The economic research out there is overwhelming that cities don’t survive unless they have strong urban cores.” Details about the Jackson Community Master Plan are available at www. jacksonmasterplan.bria2.net/; Burtch spoke with Jackson Magazine to highlight key components of the plan.