Downtown Pavilion 25 years later

June 23, 2010 10:39:19 AM PDT
(06/23/10) -- This Sunday marks the 25th anniversary of Water Street Pavilion's grand opening in downtown Flint.The festival marketplace didn't last long in its original form, but there's hope that part of its atmosphere can be restored.

Twenty-five years ago this week, the city of Flint cut the ribbon on a new festival market place known as Water Street Pavilion.

"It seems like just yesterday. I wish I could roll back the clock and do it all over again," Flint Downtown Development Authority Director Larry Ford said.

Featuring restaurants and retail shops, hopes were high for the Pavilion. Ford remembers it well. "We just knew we were on our way back to the good old days when this was the main corridor for retailing. It didn't work out."

Most business closed within a few years, and in 1991, U of M Flint took ownership, turning Water Street Pavilion into University Pavilion.

As part of downtown's current revitalization movement, the DDA holds regular community focus groups, and one topic continues to pop up. "How about ice skating in downtown Flint again?" Ford said.

It's a long shot, but Ford would love to see the DDA gain control of the pavilion's old ice skating rink or partner with the university to reopen it. He's had casual conversations with the chancellor about making it happen.

"It's like a baseball game. You've got to get to first base. We're not at first base yet," said Ford.

If that vision were to someday move forward, there are plenty of logistical obstacles in the way. Behind us, the old Zamboni entrance in boarded up.

"The building behind it, which is the support building of the rink, has been converted into a major asset for the university with all the kilns for their arts department," Ford explained.

With close to 1,000 college students expected to be living downtown this fall, Ford believes the time to move is now. "The critical mass that you need to support something like this is developing, and this may be, this may be the next step in that process of regenerating the downtown."

The inside of the old Water Street Pavilion has changed very little.

It now holds U of M Flint's bookstore, administrative offices and a food court.

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