Muskegon’s small-scale, pop-up “approach to create more long-term opportunities for local businesses.”

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Photo from Western Market Facebook page.

Another example of small, incremental projects possessing considerably less risk than big-ticket extravaganzas designed for the nurturing of campaign finance and personality cults.

Note that Muskegon’s population is almost exactly the same as New Albany’s.

Low-Cost Pop-up Shops Create Big Value in Muskegon, Michigan, by Rachel Quednau (Strong Towns)

Sometimes, all it takes is a little push to get a big thing rolling. That’s what Muskegon, Michigan learned when they invested in low-cost, small-scale business spaces in their downtown.

Like many American cities, Muskegon (population 38,000) chose to bulldoze much of its historic downtown to build a mall in the 1970s. Then in 2001, a new mall was constructed on the outskirts of the city, which led to the closure of the downtown mall. It’s a dark story of waste and decline, but one piece of good came out of that: downtown Muskegon is coming back. The farmers market is booming and local businesses are coming up in the town center.

One small but very impactful way that the city of Muskegon has helped to make this happen is by constructing low-cost “chalets” on a vacant strip of land in the downtown dubbed, Western Market, and renting them to local businesses.

Building off the success of its popular farmers market nearby, the city of Muskegon decided to use a similar small-scale approach to create more long-term opportunities for local businesses. The city hired a builder to manage the construction of 12 wooden buildings ranging from 90-150 square feet at a cost of just $5,000-6,000 per chalet. Their simple design — a portable wooden structure with windows and doors (but no running water) — kept them very affordable. In May 2017, these buildings opened for business — filled with clothes, gifts, crafts and food.

They have been a serious success, appealing to tourists and residents alike …

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