Main St Park Alliance Collaborates with VIRIDIS Design Group for Chelsea City Park Project


MSPA emphasizes images, drawings, and videos of the future park are conceptual. The final plans will be dictated by environmental findings, public input, funding, city regulations, etc. Courtesy of MSPA.

The Main Street Park Alliance (MSPA) has announced significant strides in its efforts to transform a blighted property in downtown Chelsea into a flourishing city park.

In the latest development, the MSPA design committee has chosen the VIRIDIS Design Group, based in Kalamazoo, from four competitive bids. The committee unanimously felt that VIRIDIS showcased exceptional research depth concerning the project and the Chelsea community, bolstered by a compelling portfolio and references.

VIRDIS describes itself as “a landscape architecture firm that focuses on people, the environment, and connections between the two, bringing measurable value to the projects we undertake.”

VIRDIS’s work includes Brighton Area Schools athletic fields improvements, Hastings’ Downtown Spray & Performance Plaza, professional site planning and design services to the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe for a “Living Learning Laboratory,” and several city parks in the Grand Rapids area.

As outlined by the MSPA, the park design process will emphasize:

  • Openness and transparency, ensuring a two-way dialogue with the VIRIDIS team, MSPA, the city, stakeholders, and the public.
  • A holistic approach that integrates diverse perspectives, addressing concerns to amplify the overall human experience in the park.
  • Enhancements that champion urbanistic virtues with an emphasis on versatile space development and safeguarding iconic features of the site.
  • A balance between aesthetic allure and environmental responsibility, ensuring limited maintenance needs and minimal disruption to existing services.
  • The introduction of innovative design solutions to spark interest, raise public awareness, and steer future investment directions.
  • Comprehensive cost projections for establishing and maintaining the park space, considering future sustainability.
  • Additionally, provisions are being made for a seamless construction phase to minimize disruptions to local businesses and residents.

The property is the site of the old Federal Screw Works, an automotive supplier manufacturing various metal components from 1917 to 2005. The company contributed significantly to the war effort during WWII. The factory’s contribution to the war was such that the military awarded the employees and company for their work. The ground became contaminated after almost 90 years of manufacturing on the site.

Since its closing, various developers have considered the property. However, the challenges of converting a blighted manufacturing site to commercial and/or residential proved too expensive. The current concept for a public park in downtown Chelsea is succeeding where other plans have failed.

A pivotal development agreement between MSPA and the City of Chelsea has been signed. Upon the park's completion, MSPA will transfer the property's ownership to the City for a nominal fee of $1.00. This collaborative venture between the public and private sectors is set to resolve issues associated with the problematic property.

This development agreement played a crucial role in MSPA securing a significant $1 million grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) for environmental remediation tasks on the site.

As the timeline stands, construction is slated to begin in early 2024 and reach completion by fall 2025. The total budget for this transformation is estimated at $6.7 million, excluding building restoration costs.

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