Adaptive Reuse: Battle Creek's McCamly Place

What happens when city after city makes the same expensive mistake in their quest to revitalize downtown? Here's a look at how another failed 1980s festival marketplace was converted into a new use: Battle Creek's McCamly Place.

An aerial view of McCamly Place in Downtown Battle Creek. (WKFR 103.3)

Surviving for years as a largely underutilized facility, McCamly Place and the adjacent McCamly Plaza Hotel were acquired by the Chicago-based The Lord Companies in late 2017. The Lord Companies is currently in the process of investing $3.5 million to renovate and convert the hotel into a mixed-use tower. Floors two through five would be converted into 400-square-foot studio and 800-square-foot one bedroom apartments. The development’s 23,000-square-feet of commercial space on the first floor will be revamped into a new layout offering future tenants more visibility and direct access from the street as opposed to an enclosed mall esplanade. The tower’s remaining floors will become a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel. At the time, local reports indicated that the developer would take input from Battle Creek residents to determine what the community would like to see and shape their plans around that input.

McCamly Place first floor plan in 2017. (The Lord Companies)

A 2017 redevelopment sketch of McCamly Place that would result in retail storefronts facing the street, as opposed to an interior mall. (The Lord Companies)

The Lord Companies’ investment followed the May 2015 completion and activation of Festival Market Square. Located at the main entrance of McCamly Place, the City of Battle Creek invested $1 million to create a new public space with market sheds.

Festival Market Square is an outdoor flex space that was completed in 2015 in front of the main entrance to McCamly Place. (Calhoun County Visitors Bureau)

Today, it is home to the Battle Creek Farmers Market Association, which hosts a market on-site Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout the summer. It is also home to the Post Band during the summer months. With this public space as a draw, Biggby Coffee is one of the first businesses to agree to lease space at the redesigned McCamly Place. Anticipated to open soon in a storefront facing Festival Market Square, Biggby is a rapidly growing coffee chain based out of East Lansing, Michigan with more than 230 cafes across nine states including Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Florida and Texas.

Michigan-based Biggby Coffee plans to open a new storefront at McCamly Place that would open up to Festival Market Square. (Biggby Coffee)

A rendering of Biggby Coffee’s plans for their McCamly Place location. (Biggby Coffee)

Inside McCamly Place’s J.W. Barleycorn’s. J.W. Barleycorn’s is a Sports Bar and Lounge. (J.W. Barleycorn’s)

Along with a high-rise hotel, the Kellogg Arena serves as an anchor to McCamly Place. (Kellogg Arena)

While Battle Creek quickly solidified the fact that the festival marketplace concept would not work in small communities, the McCamly Place remains an important Battle Creek destination in Battle Creek, offering a creative mix of special event, public space, retail, dining, office, hotel and soon-to-be residential uses.

Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at