Demolished: Battle Creek’s McCamly Place Walls Tumble Down; Now What?
What started out with the best of intentions some fifty years ago; one of the final examples of the failed plans for downtown Battle Creek was demolished this week.
The demolition of McCamly Place is another part of the major renovation of what was the McCamly Plaza Hotel complex. The hotel's renovation is expected to be complete in 2023. But the adjacent land is earmarked to be green space. With Kellogg's world headquarters across the street, it may be a little surprising there isn't something planned for all the employees working at Kellogg's and nearby in downtown Battle Creek. A block away, there is a potentially flourishing entertainment district, with New Holland Brewing still expected to join the mix.
On Facebook, locals shared memories of McCamley Place and rued the mistakes of the past that led to where everything is today.
Regarding the memories, Rachel Ham remembered "Cheer competitions, working at the food court and bookstore, loved the restaurants!"
More than a few people mentioned the restaurants, most specifically the Piccadilly Grille. Other's remembered J.W. Barleycorn's and Pablo's.
McCamley Place's uniqueness was that it was almost like a mini-mall. Not big and not overwhelming like a Lakeview Square, but it did have a center-court type area for local events, and even a trendy store like Benetton for a while.
(Patman Droneography via Facebook)
Of course, any discussion of downtown Battle Creek eventually mentions the comparisons to what Kalamazoo has done. Many comments complained about the creation of a mall out of Michigan Avenue, similar to the Burdick Mall in Kalamazoo. While many Kalamazooans will wax poetic about its mall, the reality is, ultimately it too was a failure and both those walking malls are now history. But, in fairness, no one in 1980 or 1990 saw the internet wiping out a lot of local retail businesses.
Understand this all you naysayers. This is being torn down because you and l didn't support downtown enough to save it. Sure part of the blame falls upon the shoulders of those officials who not far sighted enough to know that downtown didn't need a Kalamazoo mall. It needed what it had. Local businesses and entertainment venues that made people want to be there. - William Coller on Facebook.