Lowell design charrette to get public input on proposed $600K riverside amphitheater

Lowell's old concrete amphitheater that used to host Lowell Showboat concerts, school graduations and other community events has lain unused and decaying. But now that chunk of Flat River riverbank, where a lovely new riverwalk ends abruptly, is in line for a $600,000 to $750,000 makeover that could transform the riverside into an inviting family-friendly green space and more.

"We're looking at soliciting comment through a charrette to complete the riverwalk, and clean up the site and the concrete amphitheater," says Lowell City Manager Dave Pasquale. "The idea is to extend the riverwalk that starts at Main Street by the Flat River Grill north to King Street."

Designers from Grand Rapids-based Design Plus will be on hand Thursday, Jan. 13 from noon to 8 p.m. at the Main Street Inn when the community can drop by and give opinions on the concepts.

The two concepts include replacing the decrepit amphitheater with a new one with a flat lawn for picnicking and events, and a racing shell for easy launch of canoes, kayaks and competitive crew boats.

The main difference between the concepts is the arrangement of fixed seating: one proposes several half-round rows of seats and a raised viewing plaza; the other features gracefully s-curved rows, a kidney-shaped stage and no raised viewing plaza.

"The river is one of the greatest assets Lowell has," says Peter Lazdins, sr. landscape architect at Design Plus, the company behind Lowell's Main St. streetscaping project and the Riverwalk.

"It completes connecting the neighborhood with the downtown using a safe and lighted walkway," Lazdins says. "And it resurrects the space where there's an amphitheater that's seen its better days. I think because of the popularity of the Sizzlin' Summer Concerts, it's a great opportunity for expansion for that event, which is now (held) along the riverwalk closer to Main Street."

The charrette will also solicit ideas for shoring up the west bank of the Flat River near downtown.

Lowell's Downtown Development Authority will fund part of the project. The city will apply to the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources for grant monies, says Pasquale.

Source: David Pasquale, City of Lowell; Peter Lazdins, Design Plus
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor