A Plan as a Living Process
Beginning in September 2014, Pontiac Holonomy Incubator created the opportunity to connect a community planning process to the effort to save the Phoenix Center from demolition by facilitating development and participatory Design Charrettes via two Ottawa Tower Open House orchestrations and continued connection at 4 N. Saginaw via Saturday Morning Breakfast Clubs. The Phoenix Center is a 6 & 1/2 acre public plaza and amphitheater atop a 3 tiered, 2,700 space parking deck connected to Ottawa Towers I & II, a senior apartment complex and next door to Pontiac's transportation center.
Following disastrous Urban Renewal policies and practices begun in the 1950's - resulting in the displacement of small businesses and community from the downtown following the demolition of buildings on 24 acres of land, and the building of the four lane high speed Woodward Loop - the complex was designed in 1969 by Don Davidson after winning against a competing design for a shopping mall on the site. Davidson's intention was for the "project" to serve as an economic development and community hub, a city square and nexus-point catalyst for reconnecting the downtown and addressing a complex set of urban problems presented by a post-industrial reality. Built as Phase One in the 1980's, the towers were occupied by General Motors before being sold to Ottawa Towers in 2008. The Phoenix Center public plaza was used solely for concerts before an Emergency Manager ordered it's demolition in 2012. The site as a “whole” has since been the subject of a controversial litigation process that is coming to a close.
Our evolving community-sourced development concept for the center rests on new combinations and new research and evidence regarding the shift back to the urban core: Innovation Districts, Placemaking, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Future of Work and Play in Pontiac, a STEM/STEAM Learning Ecosystem and Broadband - or the deployment of the fiber optic infrastructure left behind from GM's OnStar days. And on filling Ottawa Towers II with a diversity of partners to create a "learning collaboratory."
We are just following our noses.....