The “Lumber Queen of the World,” as Muskegon was known in the late 1800s, needed to re-imagine its future for the 21st century and allow the community to reconnect to its downtown roots. The city began to develop a vision for downtown that not only looked at the property, but what the property could be, and how it would be connected to other components within the core city. According to City Manager Bryon Mazade, “We had to find a way to get control of the properties that were chained off and boarded up in order to implement the vision of the community.”
In cooperation with the city in 2002, the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, the Muskegon Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Paul C. Johnson Foundation formed the Downtown Muskegon Development Corporation (DMDC). The DMDC purchased the vacant mall area with the intention of facilitating the redevelopment of a new, revitalized central business district. They removed the chains around the parking lots and made them available for community use again, which begged the question—what now?