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wolverine

Hamilton Square and More

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Well, a lot of my attention has been focused on larger cities in Michigan and less on my hometown, which deserves some attention on a few projects going on.

First, for those who are not familiar with this industrial city, I'll give a brief history...

I went around Saginaw the other day and took photos of renovations and rehabilitations of several buildings in west saginaw in an area called Hamilton Square. The area was once a very vibrant commerical district right across form the Courthouse. Population decline, unemployment, and the riots had minor affects to this area as compared to downtown. However, a tragic fire in the mid 90's doomed Hamilton Square as a 8 story landmark hotel burned to the shell and collapsed on neighborhing buildings. One of the last major buildings burned a few years ago when faulty electrical wiring in a 3rd floor apartment spread into the upper parts of the building, and finally the attic, destroying the 103 year old landmark for good. Although the buildings were never replaced, it appears a new building is set to go up on the site. West Saginaw is still holding on quite well despite the decline many Michigan cities had seen. Saginaw was perhaps one of the last cities to see major urban decline. General Motors was doing well in the 70's and many businesses were still located downtown despite rises in crime and a population shift off to the suburbs. However, in the late 70s and early 80's things got bad for Saginaw. Soon all the department stores moved out to the suburbs as did many of the small businesses. The city would not put up with blight, and despite many buildings being abandoned for only a few years, and still in very good condition, the city undertook a major urban renewal project that would change the face of this once prosperous city forever. Dozens of downtown blocks of some of the city's most signature buildings were destroyed to the point where a person who had worked downtown in the 60's would not recognize the city today except for a few major buildings still occupied. On those sites, a downtown mall was built (failed), a hockey arena and large theater (finally successful today) a large hotel, a very large parking structure that takes up an entire block, an elevated walkway system, two government office buildings (now vacant, and 1 demolished). Overall, the urban renewal project failed, becuase the downtown only got worse. Most of it was due to the fact that the city did nothing to improve the nearby neighborhoods where things have gotten so much worse.

Now Saginaw has begun a new renaissance where old historic buildngs are fixed up instead of torn down, and restaurants and lofts are brought in, instead of federal buildings and oversized parking structures. Although the renaissance is moving faster on the west side instead of downtown, there is still a lot of potential on both sides. I will first show you a sizable building near the river that has seen some activity lately, and perhaps a proposal could surface. I will then show you improvments happening in Hamilton Square, and a new building that will go up later this year. If you all want a full tour of Saginaw, there should be photos of the city about 8-12 pages back in the PHOTOS thread that I posted last summer.

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I have not found anyone that knows the name of the orange brick building along the river. Apparently in its later years, it became a parking structure, and then was finally abandoned. The ramps were removed in the 90's, so the building has only a few floors and a steel skeleton on the inside

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I wanted to see for myself what the building looked like inside, so naturally, I tried to stay out of site.

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Forget it.

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Guess an exterior shot will have to do.

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I then headed across the river to some warehouses near Hamilton Square on Saginaw's west side. The 303 Adams building was formerly vacant, and is now home to a tile company. I always loved this building as a kid, because it reminded me of the typical warehouse buildings you would see in cartoons where the evil villains would hide. I still think it's cool today, although much of the painted on signage has come off.

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This late 19th century building was formerly abandoned and will now be home to an upscale steakhouse. I talked to the owner who told me the building was a bank after it was built. It is the 3rd oldest buildng standing in Saginaw, and was built on a parcel of land that was worth $2.2 million in today's money. The light beige and maroon color scheme will be used on the building.

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Hamilton Square where all those buildings burned down. Only one, the green building was rebuilt.

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Next door, this 4 story office building will go up. There is a parking structure nearby that I'm guessing will serve this building.

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A look back into Jake's steakhouse, sorry the photos are out of order.

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The sign. The owner wants me to return when construction gets farther along. The upstairs will be sold as loft space later on. Residents will have a parking lot in a small open space behind the building.

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Can you see me?

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I'm not sure what will happen to the buildings behind Jake's. In one there is construction equipment, hopefully another renovation will surface.

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Let's take a look.

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What the ??? Is that a rabbit in a Lions uniform?

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Here's another renovated warehouse buildng off Hamilton, I'm not sure what businesses moved in.

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Again, I crossed the river to drive by Anderson Waterpark. Ahhhh, great childhood memories. The park closed 2 years ago. Although it had good attendance, the city could not afford to keep it open, and was having a hard time selling it to a private developer. With the budget heading back into the black, Saginaw finished their feasibility study on reopening the park, and it may be in full operation after renovations by next summer.

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Thanks for the tour! It looks like Saginaw still has enough decent buildings left to work with. I really like the building where the steakhouse is coming to. I would imagine it could spur rehabs of the nearby buildings.

That rabbit is hilarious!

I remember Anderson Waterpark. I haven't been there since I was a kid. I kind of miss that place, too. It used to draw a lot of visitors from the Flint area. Let's hope Saginaw does okay with its tight budget.

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Thanks for the pictures! :) Saginaw looks like the only other city in Michigan will less pedestrian traffic than Flint. ;)

I really like that building for the steakhouse too. :) It looks like it was a good building to start out with, but the new coloring really makes it look more attractive and livens up the block.

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