The goal of a recently launched crowdfunding campaign is to raise money for a public gathering space in the area located at the northwest corner of Farmington Road and Grand River Avenue.

The goal of a recently launched crowdfunding campaign is to raise money for a public gathering space in the area located at the northwest corner of Farmington Road and Grand River Avenue.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Crowdfunding campaign aims to create public gathering space in downtown Farmington

By: Mark Vest | Farmington Press | Published May 3, 2024


FARMINGTON — For those who consider downtown to be the jewel of the city, a recently launched campaign could help to further polish that perspective.

A crowdfunding campaign was recently announced by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the city of Farmington and the Downtown Development Authority, according to a press release.

Crowdfunding campaigns aim to fund projects with donations from a large group of people.

If Farmington’s campaign is successful, according to a press release, “the downtown gateway of Masons Corner in Farmington will be activated and completed to create a universally accessible public gathering space.”

The location is at the northwest corner of Farmington Road and Grand River Avenue, in front of the Farmington Masonic Lodge and is reportedly around 1,500 square feet, with the city holding a 100-year land use agreement for it.

The campaign is being offered through the Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity.

According to the release, if the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $75,000 by June 7, the project will win a matching grant with funds made possible via the MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places program.

“This project will be utilizing the PSCP program’s Universal Design and Accessibility Extension, which allows for an additional $25,000 in matching funds if the project meets the standards of Universal Design and Accessibility,” the release states.

Kate Knight, the executive director of the Farmington DDA, said that the project is one that has been a long time coming, and one that has been enough of a priority to be included in the city’s downtown master plan for more than a decade.

“We know we have the ability to execute a really strong universally accessible design, and we have the opportunity to make a big difference here in the heart of downtown at our historic center, with the old Town Hall, Masons – they’re undergoing a lot of restoration work,” Knight said. “We see a resurgence in investing in these downtowns that are really emblematic of community and the importance of place, and this is our chance to take advantage of all the resources available on state and federal levels. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The release states that the campaign would complete the space at Masons Corner with trees, greenspace, a sculptural swing, moveable outdoor furniture, low fencing at the street, and custom pavers to create universally accessible pedestrian access “using the same and (complementary) high-quality materials from both (the) Grand River and Farmington Road streetscapes.”

According to Knight, the anticipated cost for the project is $400,000, not including public art.

“So, $150,000 brings us almost to the halfway point,” she said.

Knight added that the project wouldn’t be possible without the grant.

“We would be looking at layering it in over several years, and there’s no guarantees that the monies would be there, so we’re taking advantage of a moment where there is support from the state level that really enhances and amplifies our smaller, local dollar, and we’re layering that in with an additional grant opportunity that would allow us to recoup some of our investment,” she said. “The idea is that we have to demonstrate our intention to invest in our own community with our own funding, and for that, we will be eligible for some portion of reimbursement through an additional grant, outside this. So it’s a very strategic layering of funds.”

Knight said an additional grant could come from Oakland County.

“The (MEDC) grant … would allow us to fund the gap on our capital campaign, and we would go from there to apply for another grant, which would enable us to apply for a 40% reimbursement,” she said.

Knight said the reimbursement could be up to 40% of the project after it is completed and paid for.

She said the project does not involve any kind of tax increase for residents.

“The DDA is using its own fund balance,” Knight said. “This is an investment in place that is made possible by the Downtown Development Authority and our commitment with Main Street Oakland County to protect and invest in the historic places that make Michigan the jewel it is. … If we can achieve our grant, that will allow us to build it in the first place; it’s through that grant that we’re able to execute the construction of … this public space. Once we show that, then that would be the proof of eligibility for a secondary grant that would allow us to reimburse some of the cost to the city.”

According to the release, the Public Spaces Community Places initiative started in 2014, with communities having a 97% success rate earning matching funds.

Some would like to see that success rate continue with this project.

“Masons Corner will reestablish a historic town hall corner and create a universally accessible gathering space,” Paula Holtz, the MEDC’s regional prosperity managing director, stated via the release. “We are pleased to support and provide resources for this project through our Public Spaces Community Places program.”

Dan Gilmartin, the CEO and executive director of the Michigan Municipal League, also weighed in on the project.

“This project is a great example of bringing historic and modern elements together for the benefit of the community,” Gilmartin stated via the release. “A historic area will now also include modern amenities and a universally accessible design to ensure that everyone can enjoy the space and have the opportunity to foster connections with those around them.”

Knight thinks that the project ties in nicely with Farmington’s bicentennial, which is this year. It can also fit in well with aspirations at the state level.

“There’s an initiative in the state of Michigan that recognizes that in order to maximize our goal of retaining families and young professionals and attracting those to our Great Lakes region, what works and what’s effective is investing in place, and that includes downtowns, trail systems … outdoor recreation opportunities, places to gather with your family and preservation of historic assets — all these elements that really comprise a strong sense of place and excellent quality of life,” Knight said. “It’s an important time for Michigan to realize that as we look at a good, strong, proven way to combat net population loss.”

If the campaign is successful, the project would begin in July and be completed this year. At press time, approximately $20,000 had been raised toward it, according to Knight.

For project details or to donate, visit

If the $75,000 goal is not reached, according to Knight, it would be a “huge” detriment, in regard to ever completing the project.

“We wouldn’t be able to do it this year,” she said. “It’s timely. We have an opportunity now that won’t be there, potentially, in the future. … This is our one shot.”