As a former carhop myself, I always have a soft spot in my heart for a good drive-in.

I got my start at Corky's Drive-In in Allegan. Always the first question that follows I'll just go ahead and tell you right now-- no, thankfully I did not have to wear roller skates!

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First opened in 1962, the iconic West Lake Drive-In in Portage has been for sale several times over the years but has sat shuttered since 2020. The City of Portage acquired the property last year and revealed their plans to transform the old drive-in into a public greenspace.

Google Maps
Google Maps

Now, we're finally getting an update at all the progress that's being made! Though the City of Portage has already razed the building they recently shared on social media:

Driving down Portage Road and wondering what is going on? City of Portage crews are busy preparing the site of the former West Lake Drive-In for its next life...It is a great spot to bring your carry out and enjoy a sunset. Please use the trash receptacles and keep Portage beautiful!

Even though the West Lake Drive-In closed before my moving to Kalamazoo, I think we can all agree that its closing was not the ending we wanted. However, anything is better than letting it sit there empty so I think turning the property into a greenspace is our best-case scenario.

After all, it is a scenic spot on the shores of West Lake and an exceptional spot for catching a spectacular sunset-- just like the City said.

So, What's Next?

Plans for transforming the old drive-in include grading the lot for public parking and adding picnic tables beneath the awning. Which, can I just say, I'm so glad they're keeping the awning!

Public reactions include:

  • "I think it’s a good compromise!! People reminiscent of the place can still go there, enjoy a sunset. Just bring your own nibbles" - Lynne Wetherall
  • "That’s cool, hopefully people will respect all the hard work and keep it beautiful" - Sue Yockey
  • "Personally I don't feel the money spent was a good use of our tax dollars for a small green space with a few picnic tables. Would be curious how much money is being spent on this project." - Mary Stillman

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