Ready For the Tears and Memories To Flow? Portage Hopes To Raze West Lake Drive-In
It's not like this is a shock and no one saw it coming. Still, seeing the MLive story Monday afternoon that the City of Portage wants to buy the property on which the legendary West Lake Drive-In on Portage Road sits to raze it to create green space, makes that possibility very real now.
The West Lake Drive-In has been a Portage constant for multiple generations. It opened in 1962 and has hosted countless customers of all ages over the last sixty years. Kim Neeb and his family saved the business in 2012 and ran it for several years, but it was always a struggle; the economics haven't worked in its favor in a long time, and Neeb has been trying to sell the business since at least 2018. It did finally close for good early in 2020.
Very few places mentioned on the Facebook nostalgia site Vanished Kalamazoo have gotten the kind of response as the West Lake Drive-In. A decade ago, there would be West Lake Drive-In sightings every spring, with the curious wondering not only about whether it was open but also speculation about its future.
It appears now that the City of Portage sees it as prime scenic real estate and unless someone were to step forward to buy the property, it would become green space. An interesting question stems from that scenario: what if a provisioning center, a credit union, or a small dollar store were to buy the land? Is this preferable (tax income) to a scenic wayside on Portage Road. It'll be interesting how all this plays out.