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Silver Beach is an Entertainment Destination
By Tony McGhee
Location: St. Joseph
At a time when condominiums were popping up all along Lake Michigan, the city of St. Joseph and its resident stakeholders realized the necessity of developing 6.6 acres of unused property between Silver Beach and the business district on the bluff above it. The goals were to preserve views of the lake from the bluff, increase tourism and revenue, and enhance the lives of community members. When the city received an unprecedented gift of the property from Whirlpool and local philanthropists, it was agreed that the land would be placed in public trust with the agreement that it would be developed in the best interests of all concerned. A 25-member committee composed of representatives from local government, economic development, local non-profits, business owners, and donors agreed that the development should be innovative yet maintain a sense of history from the time when the property was an amusement park.
Designed to be a Destination
Stroll the boardwalk to the Silver Beach Carousel house. As soon as you enter you’ll feel a rush of happiness. Pick your favorite figure or chariot and take a spin…then pick another and another. Make silly faces in the photo booth. Then explore the free Silver Beach Amusement Park Museum. This wonder-filled place graced the shores of Lake Michigan from 1891-1971. It meant something special to every one of its millions of patrons through the years. Walk past the beautifully carved carousel animals and look up into Michigan’s tallest kaleidoscope and watch the beautiful changing patterns.
The facility also includes the Curious Kids’ Discovery Zone by Curious Kids’ Museum. Kids, ages 2 to 100, will have a blast for an hour or two interacting with 15 water activities, a climbing wall, virtual reality fun, and traveling hands-on educational exhibits. The warmer months invite visitors to cool off in the 150-foot diameter, interactive fountain with a colorful, compass-themed surface known as the Whirlpool Compass Fountain. From the fountain, it is a short walk to Silver Beach, named one of the top ten family beaches in the U.S. by Parents Magazine. Stroll the pier to our historic lighthouse, go fishing or watch an angler reel in a big one.
Sustainable Design Elements
“Our team poured so much passion and creativity into this project,” said Abonmarche President Chris Cook. “Our holistic philosophy inspired us to create a design that not only blends with the natural environment, but most importantly, enhances the quality of life for local residents and visitors to our beautiful lakeshore. We’re very honored to have been a part of it.”
City officials are pleased with the Center’s ability to attract people downtown. “This project has been a great economic development tool for us,” stated St. Joseph City Manager Frank Walsh. “Thousands of people from throughout the region flocked to the area below the bluff after the project was completed. That’s a great thing for area stores and restaurants.” The city is the owner of the facility, providing a long-term lease to the Silver Beach/
Tony McGhee is business development director for Abonmarche. You may reach him at 269-927-2295 or firstname.lastname@example.org.