The Plaza at Cadillac Commons

Community: City of Cadillac
Population: 10,000+

Cadillac’s downtown suffered when the US-131 bypass opened and big-box retailers built near its interchange at Boon Road. Cadillac Commons is a game-changer for downtown Cadillac. MML sponsored an MSU placemaking study recommending The Plaza as the third of five phases to create Cadillac Commons.

The Plaza transformed an ordinary parking lot into a year-round destination overlooking Lake Cadillac and a city park. It features new parking areas and a mixed, multi–season space for public events and gatherings, including a splash pad, misting post, drinking fountains, benches, a sound system, an outdoor gas fireplace, and a synthetic ice skating rink.

The Plaza is now a vibrant hub connecting downtown businesses and Lake Cadillac. With seasonal events and attractive amenities, it draws both visitors and residents year-round. Other elements in Cadillac Commons are a city park, the Rotary pavilion, a market, and the White Pine Trail trailhead.


Our project can be replicated in a variety of ways, whether it is the re-branding of an area and the creation of several new community gathering places, or something significantly smaller (or larger) is possible with the following: 1, a shared vision; 2, clear and direct communication between community stakeholders; 3, energy and endurance to see the project through.

Creativity and Originality:

Our project started as a “blank slate”, a blighted public parking lot adjacent to a park, and the back of downtown businesses, and an alleyway. Through the incredible PlacePlans process over the course of several months working with professionals that facilitated community discussions, a flame was ignited that shined a light on several paths of opportunity to create something truly special that everyone could enjoy, and that Cadillac could be proud of for generations to come! Partnering with a local engineering firm, Prein&Newhof and architect DK Design, Cadillac created a new destination location, The Plaza at Cadillac Commons. Amenities include a splash pad, a synthetic ice rink, a fireplace, large gathering and seating areas, and beautiful landscaping!

Community Impact:

Our community has seen significant new private investment since the construction of Cadillac Commons, but especially The Plaza. From new facades on downtown storefronts, to the acquisition of nearly two city blocks by a developer who became interested in Cadillac after seeing our public investment. The developer is in the process of bringing in several new commercial businesses into our core downtown area.

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Project Multimedia:

Powerpoint Presentation