New outdoor rec center is paddling along even before its building opens

A hub for outdoor recreational activities is taking shape in Bay City. And while the business has already begun renting kayaks and stand-up paddleboards along the Saginaw River, its owner envisions something more.

Much more.

Float Paddle Center began its kayak and paddleboard rental service during this summer’s Tall Ship Celebration. Stationed at the Ted Putz Nature Area, Float offers watersports rentals and eco-tours.

But that’s just the beginning. Work is currently underway on the old Pizza Factory at the edge of the park, transforming the former restaurant into a hub for outdoor enthusiasts. Among the planned renovations include large glass doors that open on to a newly-built deck overlooking Putz park.

Kristi Kozubal, who opened Float with husband Rick Learman, is planning something much bigger than a rental stand and canoe launch. Kozubal wants to create a year-long destination along the Saginaw River.

"The community needs something more than bars and restaurants. We need a different kind of Third Place where people can gather," Kozubal says, referencing the Third Place theory that people need social destinations outside the home and workplace.

"The Bay region has a lot of outdoorsy types of people but not a lot of places for us to go and gather."

Kozubal is planning a social gathering place with coffee, refreshments, and retail. A bait shop was suggested to her, an idea that she likes.

Kozubal hopes to find yoga instructors to not only lead classes from within the confines of the Center and the park, but also atop paddleboards on the Saginaw River. She envisions snowshoe hikes in the wintertime, with participants coming back to the Center for ski lodge-style movie nights.

Construction of the Center should be complete in the fall. Kayak and paddleboard rentals are currently available.

Float Paddle Center is located at 110 Salzburg Ave. in Bay City.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

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