East End: Baseball and back to nature

Nearly forgotten among all the changes being made in the greater downtown Midland area, with its waterfront redesign, growing housing market, and improved Commons Area streetscape, sits the East End, a recreation area which will only grow in importance in downtown’s future.

Its namesake building, a four-story metal-and-glass eye-catcher, sits along the incoming leg of Poseyville Road to the city on the north side of the Tittabawassee River. Its 224,000 square feet are distributed among retail, office, and medical services spaces.

A more than hefty baseball toss from its iconic logo in front of the building could reach the home plate of Dow Diamond, to its east, the home of the Great Lakes Loons, High A minor league representative of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

It also sits across Main Street, Founders’ Park, and the river from a wetlands, a part of which, at the most recent city Parks and Recreation meeting, was aptly named the  Poseyville Preserve, Public Services Director Karen Murphy notes, and encompasses land on both sides of Poseyville Road 

Buffeted by Buttles Street to its north, the East End building has been filled nearly to capacity since it opened its doors in Dec. 2013, as its first tenants began finishing the spaces to suit their needs. It maintained its roster of clients through interior remodeling amid the COVID pandemic seven years later, which played havoc with many real estate markets nationwide.

The East End’s first tenants included Midland-based Dow Chemical Co., State Street restaurant owned by Michigan Baseball Operations, Chemical Bank, MidMichigan Health, the law firm Warner Norcross & Judd, and Maui Sushi. All remain tenants in some iteration.

The north and south sides of the East End will be drawn even closer together in the near future by a planned pedestrian bridge from the property near Founders’ Park to a site on the east side of Poseyville Road. This site will become the home of the wetlands, the Ott Family Pavilion, a picnic area, and a trail along the river looping back to the Tridge, bringing the properties now separated together.

Illustration of finished project.
Murphy told Parks and Recreation that construction of the 450-foot-long bridge is awaiting a floodplain permit from the Michigan Department of Environmental, Great Lakes and Energy and that city workers “are champing at the bit” to proceed on the four-months project as soon as it is received. Work can start west of Poseyville, such as planting native plants and other natural vegetation, due to a grant from EGLE and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In the meantime, committee members considered the official name.

“I am presenting to you the Poseyville Preserve,” Murphy explained, noting upwards of half a dozen names had been bandied about. “To name it, I reached out to the Chippewa Nature Center staff and told them, ‘You have a creative staff, what would you name it if you had the chance to create it, to name it?’” 

“And they came up with the name ‘Poseyville Preserve’ giving a nod to the fact that we are preserving the integrity of the riverfront and the functionality of the floodplain and Poseyville because we are at the Poseyville entrance,” she says.

“We wanted something that wasn’t just a park,” she says. “It will serve a recreational purpose absolutely but it’s more than a park … It’s a nature preserve and a chance to connect right across downtown with a natural setting and a floodplain and restoring it to what it used to be back in the day.”

It passed unanimously.

The Great Lakes Loons, too, is doing its part to bring together the East End and downtown. In addition to providing 66 home games a year at Dow Diamond, which draw an average of 3001 people, and hosting an average of 150 community events a year inside the spacious stadium and the Midland Farmers Market in its parking lot, they are hosting the first Fourth of July Block Party on Main this year, with an after game fireworks celebration, performances by America’s Got Talent semifinalist Grace Good and Loons baseball.
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Read more articles by Ralph E. Wirtz.

Ralph E. Wirtz is a native Midlander who retired from the Midland Daily News as a managing editor in 2015. He has been freelancing since then in between traveling and volunteering. He has four adult children, all who graduated from Bullock Creek High School as he did. He is an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Navy and a Central Michigan University grad. He can be reached at ralphewirtz@gmail.com.