Cadillac’s Heritage Plaza PlacePlan was delivered in July 2014, using input from residents and business owners at multiple community meetings to redesign a lakeside block of downtown Cadillac being used as a parking lot and City Park. The “Heritage Plaza” concept envisioned the site as a year-round destination and downtown hub, hosting seasonal events and providing an attractive connection between the businesses on Cadillac’s main street, Mitchell Street, and Lake Cadillac one block to the west. After months of study and public feedback facilitated by MML and the Michigan State University School of Planning, Design, and Construction, the final design concept centered on a multi-use, multi-seasonal space for public events and gatherings. Summertime activities would include art fairs and concerts, a children’s splash pad and playscape, enhanced by plenty of benches and shaded spaces. In the winter, an outdoor fireplace would warm the edges of a skating rink while the space could be used for holiday festivals.
Cadillac has seen progress during 2015 thanks to the PlacePlan process, which couldn’t have happened without Cadillac’s public and private sectors being committed to a wide range of redevelopment activities, working in harmony toward a revitalized downtown. These include the Cadillac Area Community Foundation, Cadillac Area Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Development Authority, Cadillac Area Visitors Bureau and The Downtown Fund, a private group.
Ground was broken in late 2015 on the reconstruction of the Rotary Performing Arts Pavilion, located immediately adjacent to the Heritage Plaza area on the lakeshore. The redesign of this key public amenity includes tiered lawn seating, new sound equipment, and better pedestrian circulation around the pavilion. While not a specific part of the PlacePlan, the Pavilion reconstruction is nonetheless an integral part of the plan’s goal of developing a livable lakefront area that interfaces with downtown businesses. Construction is expected to be complete in time for the start of the summer 2016 performance season.
As for the Heritage Plaza itself, the existing parking lot will be reconfigured in 2016 to make the area easily traversable by pedestrians and amenable to the potential of patio seating for the rear of those Mitchell Street businesses that border the site. The project will further include the burial of overhead utility lines. Funding of these improvements demonstrates Cadillac’s ability to leverage partnerships: $200,000 of the total $550,000 project cost is funded through a Core Communities grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), $250,000 is funded by the Downtown Development Authority, and city property tax revenues are funding the remainder.
Finally, the splash pad and skating rink that captured so much public support during plan development is one step closer to becoming a reality in 2016. Led by the Cadillac Area Chamber of Commerce, the Cadillac Leadership program’s annual class of young professionals has chosen to make the splash pad/skating rink its signature project. The first six months of 2016 will be devoted to fundraising for the proposed 40-foot by 50-foot oval facility, including making use of Michigan’s Crowdfunding legislation. Simultaneously, the city is seeking financing to ensure that ground can be broken by summer 2016.
PlacePlans: A Community Collaboration
At its core, placemaking is an economic development strategy that offers a new way to define and design our communities for the people who live in them. Research shows that a city’s prosperity and future growth are linked to the quality of human experience it provides.
In this report, learn about Cadillac’s experience going through the PlacePlans process and the progress it is making to implement those plans.
- Cadillac’s Downtown Ice Rink Opens – 9&10 News, Dec. 16, 2016
- Big changes ahead for Cadillac City Park, Rotary Pavilion – Cadillac News, April 25, 2015
- Cadillac Heritage Plaza PlacePlan now available online – CadillacNews.com, November 21, 2014
- Potential change coming to downtown Cadillac – Cadillac News, December 7, 2013
- Cadillac gets placemaking grant – Northwest Michigan’s Second Wave, December 3, 2013
- Cadillac one of 8 Michigan cities to get help on development – CadillacNews.com, November 16, 2013