Unlike this amazing aerial shot, photographs taken from the ground can hardly depict the enormous size and impressive setting of Grand Traverse Commons (formally Traverse City State Hospital or Northern Michigan Asylum). Once an imposing (and probably intimidating) institutional facility, today this restored architectural gem is an inspiration to urban planners, historic preservationists, and adaptive re-users, alike.
The campus is now occupied by a variety of shops, services, restaurants, housing options, offices, recreational opportunities, and civic uses. Grand Traverse Commons is an amazing planning effort, as the site has been transformed into one of Traverse City’s premier destinations.
Beyond the adaptive reuse of the site itself, the regional planning bar has been set very high by Traverse City and adjoining Garfield Charter Township who jointly oversee the master planning, zoning, mixed-use redevelopment, and historic preservation of the 484 acre campus through a Joint Planning Commission.
Kudos to both jurisdictions for their progressive planning actions and to all those involved in the long battle to save the former Traverse City State Hospital from the wrecking ball since its closure in 1980. As a new resident of Traverse City, one can only marvel at the effort(s) it took to accomplish such a noble and formidable task. Bravo!