St. Joseph-Benton Harbor 2018

Project Background and Rationale

Michigan is home to more than 100 public marinas and harbors, managed by state, county, or local governments. They are part of a boating culture that draws $2.4 billion in economic activity to the state each year.

The goal of the Twin Cities Sustainable Harbors Initiative is to facilitate the development of long-term, sustainable strategies that enable Michigan’s Great Lakes coastal communities to maximize the benefits of their harbors and waterfront. Coastal communities face multiple challenges such as increasingly scarce state and federal funding as well as fluctuating water levels, increased storm volatility, flooding, and erosion. Signage, access, and connectivity to other community nodes are also challenges. This project addresses these challenges. 

Design Charrette Resources

Initial Visioning Meeting
Next, during an initial visioning meeting (September 19, 2018), attendees weighed in on the future of the Twin Cities waterfront. Community members helped identify assets linked to existing or potential public waterfront uses and/or facilities.

Work In Progress
The team then followed up with a three-day design charrette to reflect on the communities shared vision (October 9-11, 2018). The charrette concluded with a “work in progress” presentation to summarize the proposed vision for the Twin Cities future waterfront. 

While the presentation linked below represents the “preferred” vision based on the community feedback over the past month, and more significantly, the past three days (Oct 9 – Oct 11), the harbor/waterfront plan depicted in the presentation is not the “final” shared vision for the harbor. There will be additional opportunities for comment and revision as the team transitions into the next phase of the project. In addition, the images in the presentation are representative sketches or renderings from the design team to demonstrate the iterative design process. The images included are not all encompassing of the work produced during the charrette and should not be construed as final.

Agenda of Public Events

Need a ride to the meetings?

Transportation for each public meeting is available through Dial-A-Ride (269-927-4461). To schedule, call Dial-A-Ride no later than 4:30 PM on the day of the meeting and provide them with your name and address for pick up.

Phase 1 – Research, Outreach, Charrette Preparation

July – September 2018

  • Gather existing documents, make presentations to local commissions, host facilitated focus groups, and plan for the charrette. 

Phase 2 – Charrette Process

Host multiple community engagement meetings at Kinexus, 499 West Main Street, Benton Harbor, MI.

  • September 19, 6 – 8 p.m.
    Initial Harbor Vision Workshop 
  • October 9, 6 – 8 p.m.
    Harbor Design Workshop
  • October 10, 6 – 8 p.m.
    Harbor Options Open House
  • October 11, 4 – 6 p.m.
    Preferred Option Presentation

Phase 3 – Post Charrette

November 2018 – January 2019

  • Create a final design report that documents the generation of the final shared vision for the Twin Cities Harbor.
  • Present final shared vision for the Twin Cities Harbor in a public forum.

February 2019 – March 2019

  • Host governance focus groups (Harbor Conservancy, Elected Officials, Stakeholder groups) to discuss governance structures to implement the vision.

In the News


Community Photos


Twin Cities Harbor Visioning Charrette

To assist St. Joseph and Benton Harbor in creating a shared harbor plan, the Department of Natural Resources’ Office of the Great Lakes, the Twin City Harbor Conservancy, Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Sea Grant, and partners are organizing a Twin Cities Harbor Visioning Charrette. These community meetings and discussions will culminate in a clear, shared vision for the Twin Cities Harbor that reflects the entire harbor community.

This vision is important for the community and its future because it is constructed by all affected parties and is a compilation of everyone’s ideas and voices. The implementation of this shared vision will increase public confidence, participation, and support in the community as well as economic, cultural, social, and environmental community sustainability, adding value to the harbor.

What is a Charrette?

A design charrette is a facilitated planning process that is open to the public. Participants offer ideas for amenities and improvements they feel would generate more waterfront activity and improve their community. The Twin Cities Harbor Visioning Charrette process will include multiple visits to the community including an initial visioning meeting, a multi-day series of public design sessions where the project team facilitates community discussion and stakeholder meetings, and a final presentation to the community.

The projected outcome of the Twin Cities Harbor Visioning Charrette is that the community, stakeholders, and local units of government will have worked together to create a strategy for implementing a shared harbor vision that will lead to a vibrant and prosperous community.