The Pontiac Plan - Phoenix Center, 1965-1980

The  1965-80 Pontiac Plan, envisioned by Pontiac resident and University of Detroit Professor C. Don Davidson, was designed to be a concentrated development of high-rise office buildings, apartment towers and hotel facilities intertwined with commercial shopping facilities, an art museum, performance theater, an 8,000 seat sports arena, restaurants and convalescent facilities for the elderly. A park plaza on the upper level of a 3-tier parking structure(later known as the Phoenix Center was to allow for the separation of the pedestrian from the automobile with a main thoroughfare (Orchard Lake rd.) passing through the center, lower level of the structure.

The entire Pontiac Plan was proposed to be built in three phases. Only the first phase, consisting of three office buildings, a multilevel parking structure, a senior apartment high rise and a transportation center were ever built. This first phase would eventually become known as the Pontiac Phoenix Center. The Pontiac (Silverdome) Stadium Project also was a part of the mid 60's urban renewal plan.

In 1969, the city of Pontiac adopted the Pontiac Plan as the official plan for rebuilding the vacant area of the downtown district.


The remaining phases of the Plan would never come to fruition due to, not only bureaucracy and financial restraints incurred by the early 80's recession, but primarily due to incompetence and a lack of vision from past and present city leaders.



Where are the next visionarys, the dreamers? Who among us is willing to follow a selfless path for the good of our fellow man?




Cross section rendering of the Pontiac Plan concept with a multi-level parking structure - looking west 



Perspective rendering of the Pontiac Plan,  encompassing a parking structure and plaza
currently known as the Phoenix Center


The Phoenix Center as viewed from Woodward Ave. (Loop) and Orchard Lake rd., facing west

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Emergency manager: Phoenix Center should come down

The Oakland Press - 04/28/2012
Tearing down Pontiac's Phoenix Center might be in the city's best interest, said Emergency Manager Lou Schimmel.

Schimmel made the statement to The Oakland Press in an interview last week, saying it's one of the last tasks he will handle before leaving at the end of 2012. - read more....



What Pontiac looked like in 1968 prior to the first urban renewal phase

Downtown Pontiac's 1967 Failed Mall Plan

In 1966, Pontiac born real estate developer Alfred Taubman began his quest to build a large-scale shopping mall in the downtown district of the city. Several area businessmen including Davidson opposed the mall plan and organized an effort to successfully defeat it. Later,the Federal Government ordered the city to 'cease and desist' in it's impractical mall plan. Below, Taubman acknowledges defeat of his downtown Pontiac mall plan.

Copies of articles from the Pontiac Press - Sept. 28 and Oct. 18, 1967

What Could Have Been ....

Drawings of Proposed Buildings

Perspective drawing of the Pontiac Plan



click on a picture to enlarge





50th District court
Sports Arena

Pictures of 1967 urban renewal presentation

Davidson, Walter Reuther & Bruno Leon
VIP's viewing the Plan
Davidson presenting the Plan - 1967


Pontiac State Bank Building










  • Barron land (1965)




  • An Environmental Analysis of a Central Business Area: Pontiac, MI., 1966-79 Urban Renewal Plan (Known as the Phoenix Center)

    Via Google Books, Click Here


    Davidson critiquing a class project at the U. of D. - ca., 1966




    Davidson (center) at The Pontiac Plan Groundbreaking Committee Banquet held at the Pontiac Silverdome - 11/29/1979



    Bruno Kearns article - C. Don Davidson


    Article on Davidson written by Pontiac Press Sports Editor/Columnist Bruno Kearns - 1968