Bay City’s Riverfront Takes Shape

Over the last 15 years, developers and politicians in Bay City have battled to turn the city into a more attractive place to live.  Their most recent efforts—the Uptown at River’s Edge site and the replacement of the Mill End building with condominiums—are now taking shape.  Now the city commissioners hope to renovate part of Wenonah Park and add a housing development on the west bank of the Saginaw River.

One of the older entertainment landmarks in the city, the Wenonah Park Band shell looks every bit of its thirty years.  On Wednesdays in the summer it hosts local bands and performances and attracts visitors from all over the region. On October 7, the City Commission approved seeking $4,000 through grants to contribute to replacing the roof on the amphitheater.  The total project is estimated to cost $20,000.

On the other side of Veteran’s Memorial Bridge, Uptown at River’s Edge continues development.  The new Dow Corning office building that began construction earlier this spring is looking more and more like the final product.  Another building has sprouted up next to it, and construction crews continue to work as they inch closer to cold weather and snow.

The Bay City Commissioners have also invested heavily in the Uptown project.  They implemented major infrastructure changes, including the addition of sewage lines, streets and burying underwater the Consumer’s Energy cables that once crossed the Saginaw River on tall structures.

Advertisements for Uptown housing have appeared in Great Lakes Bay Magazine, promising upscale living along the riverfront.  A primary concern of citizens seems to be that there is a glut of upscale housing in Bay City, made up primarily of condominiums scattered throughout the downtown area.  There is some concern that there is not enough demand for higher income housing, and that they will remain empty for some time.

Developers dismiss these concerns, and they continue to build on the expectation that people will fill their new homes and turn the Uptown development into a thriving community.

On the other side of the river, across the street from the Wenonan band shell, the remnants of the old Mill End store have given way to the superstructure of a new condominium building.  Citizens express similar concern as to the glut of condo housing, but far less taxpayer money has gone into this development.  As a private investment, some see the construction as risky, but the developer is optimistic the new building will fit with the new look of Bay City’s eastern riverfront.

As things change on the riverfront, most citizens will sit back and hope that the developments work as planned. A vibrant riverfront, all agree, is essential for strengthening the local economy and keeping Bay City a destination location.  Over the next year or two these developments will take shape and it is believed they will bring in hundreds of new jobs.  In the case of Uptown, development will remove a concrete eyesore and make the east side riverfront more attractive.

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