Downtown Kalamazoo Inc.
During the first half of the 20th Century, Kalamazoo did not consider the creek that ran through its downtown an amenity, so the city tamed Arcadia Creek by routing it in a culvert that daylighted into the Kalamazoo River east of downtown.
In the early 1980s the Downtown Development Authority sponsored a design competition for reopening the creek, and in the mid 1980s this concept plan was refined and further developed by a team of architects and engineers that included OCBA.
OCBA has been working with Downtown Kalamazoo Incorporated (DKI) ever since to design and oversee the construction of the creek through downtown. A consortium of local leaders formed the “Arcadia Commons Partnership” to promote business development along the creek. Part of the redevelopment effort was the preparation of site design standards by OCBA to present a unified look and theme for the area.
The area has experienced significant growth with the development of the Kalamazoo Cancer Center, National City Bank executive offices, the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, and the downtown campus of Kalamazoo Valley Community College. OCBA provided site design services for the National City and Cancer Center projects. Concurrent with the Arcadia Commons development, OCBA designed and oversaw the construction of a linear park along the creek that linked all of the developments. The design components of the Linear Park include ornamental handrails, brick-paved walkways, creek overlooks, a pedestrian bridge, site furniture and landscaping.
Following the build out of Arcadia Commons, the development of the Arcadia Creek festival site became a top priority. In 2001 DKI and event organizers formed a coalition to develop a space designated specifically for special events, and the OCBA was hired to redevelop a parking lot into an urban plaza that could accommodate large event crowds but not feel empty and unusable during the remainder of the year.
OCBA collaborated with the festival coalition and a local volunteer artist and philanthropist to create the Arcadia Creek Festival Site, which was completed in May 2004 at a cost of $2.4 million. It includes permanent utilities, a bandshell, a multi-purpose pavilion, an interactive fountain, ornamental fencing with gateway features, a bridge over the pond, perimeter landscaping, and a play area. The main brick paved festival plaza and stage cover about half of the 1.5-acre site. The center focal point of the plaza is an at grade interactive “jumping jets” style fountain which is shut down during large festivals to provide additional set-up space. A pedestrian promenade provides a circulation link between the plaza and the adjoining events pavilion, play area, and bridge connection to downtown.