Award-winning strategic plan takes shape in Buchanan

Published 4:30 pm Friday, May 31, 2024

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BUCHANAN — Three years ago, the City of Buchanan, in partnership with Andrews University School of Architecture and Design, published the national award-winning strategic plan, “A Vision for Buchanan.” 

This document focused on revitalizing downtown, the Northside Neighborhood, and the riverfront. Today, Buchanan is witnessing these pages of the publication come to life through a series of transformative projects that showcase the community’s commitment and spirit.

“A Vision for Buchanan was created by and for the Buchanan community,” said Mayor Sean Denison. “Our citizens told us what they want to see in Buchanan, and we have listened and taken action.”

Downtown Revitalization

Buchanan’s historic downtown is experiencing a wave of investment. Several strategic properties that were vacant or underutilized for decades are now thriving. The Hometown Video building at 101-103 Days Ave has been saved from desolation and transformed into a business incubator, housing a leatherworker, plant shop, skate shop, farm store, and soon, a new restaurant by River Saint Joe Brewery. This building, once the largest vacant building on Front Street, now hosts five new entrepreneurial ventures.

Just down the street, the historic Livery building is undergoing a restoration into a boutique hotel and bar, funded with $1.25 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The building, situated along McCoy Creek and adjacent to Buchanan’s Common, is set to become a major attraction and aims to turn daytrippers into overnighters. 

“When old historic stables become boutique hotels leveraging all the history of an old great American downtown, this creates a powerful sense of place and sets our economy up to thrive,” Denison said.

LiveBuchanan, the city’s downtown development team, has spearheaded various placemaking projects, including the aforementioned business incubator and the popular Munchie Mondays event. This event drew thousands to Days Avenue last summer, significantly boosting local business traffic. Additionally, LiveBuchanan and the Buchanan District Library launched the “I HeART My Library” mural campaign, supported by the Berrien Community Foundation, Michigan Gateway Community Foundation, and in-kind support from RMC Construction.

Northside Neighborhood

Victory Park’s grand reopening on June 8th will celebrate community efforts and substantial investments totaling over $175,000. The park now features a new pavilion, expanded grounds, a restored basketball court, and more thanks to the city’s investments. Resident James Busby’s efforts also brought additional funds through the Schalon Foundation’s $25,000 grant. These efforts combined with community contributions allowed for new picnic tables, benches, signage, ADA-accessible amenities, and more.

The city’s home improvement and demolition programs, funded by the Michigan Gateway Community Foundation and The Hunter Foundation, will further enhance the Northside Neighborhood. An additional $300,000 grant from the Michigan State Housing and Development Authority’s Community Development Block Grant program will support a second round of housing improvements, starting in Spring 2025.

Riverfront Development

Reconnecting Buchanan to the St. Joseph River has been a major theme of the Vision. The riverfront master plan, developed with community input and funded by the AEP Foundation, aims to enhance river access and complement Buchanan’s recreation culture. The plan has already secured a $230,000 MDNR grant for an ADA-accessible kayak launch and an $84,000 award from the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative for an ecological restoration plan. 

“We are deeply grateful for the insight and thoughtful participation of the citizens of Buchanan to forge this visionary document that will create transformational opportunities and experiences for generations to come on our special bend of the St. Joseph River in Buchanan,” Denison said of the adoption.

Community and Future Investments

Since adopting “A Vision for Buchanan,” the city has received over $4.5 million in grants and seen a 30 percent increase in private investment. 

“Buchanan’s community has always invested in this town,” Denison said. “Now, with a shared vision, we are building a place where our children can live, grow, and prosper.”

To view “A Vision for Buchanan,” visit