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deja vu

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Everything posted by deja vu

  1. Curious what happens to all of the existing tenants in Brass Works. Do they stay, or does Spectrum ultimately takeover all of the space?
  2. Here's the data graphics from the Bloomberg study. Ann Arbor, less than 2 hours east of Kalamazoo, was ranked 3rd in the country for "Brain Power" - which is a bit more believable than Kalamazoo being ranked #1 for "Brain Drain" -
  3. When I first read this article, I thought it was a joke. Kalamazoo's economy has been booming by pretty much any definition I can think of in recent years, and its population has been slowly growing. I really wanted to see the data behind these claims, because something didn't add up. I wasn't even going to post it, because it sounded so bogus. #1 in the country for brain drain? No way. We have WMU, K-College, KVCC. Stryker, Bronson, Pfizer, Zoetis, Graphics Packaging, Landscape Forms, dozens of engineering firms, all thriving & growing. The region can't keep up with housing demand, home values are rising, etc... It's a false narrative. Yes the pandemic has hurt Kalamazoo like everywhere else. Restaurants, bars, and recreation, hospitality, & service-related businesses have closed, sometimes permanently. But there's no way we have lost the most jobs out of ANY METRO in the entire country. Well now yesterday, this article came out, and it confirms my suspicions that something seemed off in the study. Apparently, the number-crunchers at Bloomberg failed to consider that the defined Kalamazoo-Portage MSA area used to include Van Buren County, but sometime between 2015 - 2019, Van Buren County was removed from the MSA (by the American Community Survey definition - which Bloomberg used for this report). So they were comparing between two disparate population areas, giving them a number that falsely indicated a population decline of 21% between 2015 and 2019 when there was really a 2% population increase. Thankfully we have institutions like The Upjohn Institute to keep on eye on false reports like this. And they should know - for starters, they are one of the most preeminent employment research institutions in the entire world. Second - and this is important - they are LOCAL. They actually pay attention to what happens in the Kalamazoo-Portage metro. Thankfully, this mistake was noticed, and hopefully, Bloomberg issues a correction and an apology quickly. Hopefully must people don't take much stock in these near-pointless rankings, but damage could have been done.
  4. As we kick of 2021, the push to build a new casino in Fruitport Township will shift from the federal level to the state & local levels. The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians got Land Trust Approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs on Thursday, December 31, 2020 -
  5. The latest Kalamazoo Planning Commission meeting agenda is posted online (for January 7, 2021). Two new items are included under Public Hearings: 1. Request for a Special Use Permit to construct a new fraternity house at 1701, 1709, and 1711 Fraternity Village Drive. It seems silly that a Special Use Permit would be necessary on a street that is home to 13 other existing fraternities / sororities, but I guess it is not included in the list of approved uses for Residential Multi-Family (RM15). It is largely a procedural thing I suppose. The recommendation is to approve the special use. According to the application, the three parcels would be combined to form one 1.83 acre parcel for the construction of a 7-unit (4 bedrooms ea.) facility with shared common spaces. All three parcels were former sites of apartment buildings that were demolished in 2012. 2. Eastside Neighborhood Rezoning Requests This is in line with the ongoing zoning studies that have been happening in support of the greater Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 Master Plan. Current parcels that are zoned as Community Commercial (CC), Manufacturing (M1), Residential Single Family (RS5), Residential Multiple Family (RM15), Residential Duplex (RD19), or Commercial Office (CO) would be rezoned as Live Work 1 (LW1), Live Work 2 (LW2), Residential Single Family (RS5), or Residential Duplex (RD19). The recommendation is to recommend approval of the rezoning to the City Commission. I posted the proposed zoning map here previously. But I have not seen these images included in the packet that were a part of the visioning process - it is great to see this level of thought already. With the help of local architecture studio InForm, a new, multi-phased neighborhood center called Eastside Square has been conceived - Eastside Square Project(approximate location) - 1601 East Main - 1616 East Main -
  6. Grand Haven - These photos were posted on LinkedIn by Abonmarche Consultants a few weeks ago. But they are obviously from earlier in the Fall. Abonmarche did the design work for the rejuvenation of a portion of South Harbor Drive - Source: LinkedIn | Abonmarche Consultants, Inc.
  7. I'm honestly having a hard time keeping track of all of the development news coming out of the Muskegon region lately. There is an excitement and a buzz here that has only grown through 2020. It is fun to watch 50 years of disinvestment continue to be reversed. I'd wager that outside of Grand Rapids (and maybe Holland) the Muskegon-area is investing more in development than any other region on the west side of the state right now. Muskegon City Manager Frank Peterson - along with the city's Economic Development Director Jake Eckholm - have been leading the charge. All signs point to momentum continuing into 2021. Most of the new development has been focused along Western Ave. Here's some other things gleaned over the past few weeks - 1. 2020 Development Recap 2. Marijuana Facility Planned for former Shaw-Walker Factory Source: MLive | Lynn Moore 3. Former Nugent Sand Mining Site Acquisition The land is loosely bounded by Sherman Boulevard, Lincoln Street, and Seminole Road in the city of Norton Shores and represents about 1/3 mile of Lake Michigan frontage. This would be cool because it would be so close to the city of Muskegon, even within walking & biking distance for some residents. Source: MLive | Marge Beaver / Photography Plus 4. 1204 and 1148 W. Western Ave. Redevelopment This is the former site of Westran Austin Trailer Division and Michigan Steel (demolished in 2014). It is one of several key properties that the city has been targeting for redevelopment, as Muskegon Lake transitions from an industrial hub to a mixed-use, live-work destination. Definitely one to keep an eye on! Source: MLive
  8. I don't mind the lighting on the parking deck. In fact, I think that I prefer the look of this refreshed, older garage better than the new one at Studio Park.
  9. A few more views of the retail portion, found on Instagram from a few days ago - Source: Instagram | @downtowngrinc
  10. Governor Whitmer signed several bills into law yesterday, including the bill to support funding event centers in counties like Kalamazoo and the bill that restores the State's historic preservation tax credit. I am trying to keep an open mind about the prospective event center. Social media is filled with haters on this thing. No surprises there, but I am finding a hard time finding anyone who is really in support of this, other than elected officials and Ron Kitchens / Southwest Michigan First. There's still so much we don't know. If there is a developer, who would it be? Presumably PlazaCorp? How will this be publicly / privately funded, apart from the new tax option? What happens if the Kzoo Wings, WMU Broncos, & Expo Center all remain un-invested in it? In other stuff... At long last, this ugly, POS eyesore near W. Main and Drake & next to the new Chik-fil-A (which looks basically completed, btw) is finally seeing its much-needed death. I drove by this thing yesterday afternoon around 4:00pm and it was still standing. And then later that evening I saw these pictures on my Instagram feed. So after years of it sitting vacant and falling apart, they moved pretty fast - Any future development of this lot will surely be an improvement but nothing too exciting. The active Westwood Plaza basically envelops it, and by the looks of it, the plan always was to fill-in-the hole that would be left when this gas station got demolished. I think it just took a LOT longer (like, decades-longer) than they had hoped. If Treystar hopes to partner with a tenant or two to help justify their expansion of Westwood Plaza, they might have to wait. It seems like a tall order right now and I suspect it will just remain an open, empty lot for a while - Source: Google Maps Source: Google Maps In an odd twist, the same day that Treystar was intentionally demolishing this property, a drunk driver was unintentionally damaging their office along W. Michigan Ave. in downtown - Source: Instagram | @newschannel_3 Separately, I saw this image of downtown Kalamazoo on Instagram. I really like this angle and the way it shows the old juxtaposed with the new. This is one of the views from which tiny Kalamazoo appears most dense - Source: Instagram | @whiskeyalphadelta
  11. Another new proposal for downtown Muskegon - this, a 4-story, affordable senior housing development by Samaritas. It would be built at 4 W. Webster Ave. on the NE end of downtown. I like the 4 story infill, but I'm not digging the design at all. Even forgiving the low render quality, the metal panel materials look cold and cheap. There appears to be brick at the first floor - hooray... A big, bland box. Source: MLive | Courtesy Samaritas
  12. Muskegon has had a pretty notable development year even with COVID-19. If it keeps this up, it might deserve its own dedicated thread! MLive did an exclusive on all the development happening now and planned for 2021. The article is paywalled - but here are the extracted highlights - The Leonard After many delays, this 6-story, 51,000+ SF mixed-use development broke ground this Fall at the corner of Western Avenue and Second Street in downtown. It will add 18 new apartment units. The developer is Corey Leonard / Sweetwater Development. Source: MLive Ten21 This three-story, 75-unit apartment complex with some commercial space, broke ground in 2020 at 1021 Jefferson St. near the edge of downtown. It will provide low-income & moderate-income housing. It is a former city-owned surface lot. General Capital Group of Milwaukee, Wisconsin is the developer. Source: MLive City-Wide Infill Housing Project Muskegon set a goal to construct 240 new infill homes throughout the city in the next few years. Here's two of them under construction at 9th & Muskegon. Dave Dusendang is one of the builders contracted with the city. His company built about 25 homes this year and expects to build about 100 more in the next few years. Source: MLive An earlier photo from November, of 13 homes along W. Webster Ave. between 8th & 9th Streets - Source: MLive | Courtesy Dave Dusendang Hartshorn Village Condominiums Also broken ground in 2020, this 55-unit condominium project, at West Western Ave. and Division Street, is being developed by DeHaan Homes and Smith Equities. Source: MLive Lakeside Business District Developments Lots of new businesses have been trying to establish some roots here in this trying year - the Pierogi Shack, Lake Dog Coney Island, Wonderland Distilling Company, and Hey Sugar Cotton Candy. The Deck Expansion This successful each restaurant began a significant expansion this Fall of its outdoor seating areas in anticipation of 2021. The work will add two outside bars, a beer garden snack bar with deck seating area above it, an enlarged outdoor music area, and a gear shop. Source: MLive A Growing Marijuana Industry Redbud Roots and Timber Cannabis and both opened in 2020 within a few blocks of each other along West Laketon Ave. There were already two provisioning centers in opertion, and apparently officials have approved between 25 and 30 additional requests for new marijuana businesses in the city's overlay district! Hmmmm... that sounds like a lot. Source: MLive
  13. This article is further proof that Hudsonville really does have some of the best ice cream around. And it sounds like they gearing up to have a much bigger impact - Source:
  14. Right around the same time that House Bill 4816 was passed, it has been announced that Ron Kitchens, CEO of Southwest Michigan First (and primary proponent of the downtown event center) is resigning and moving to Alabama to be closer to his wife's family. SWM First's 1st President - Carla Zones - will become interim CEO. I don't think this has anything to do with the status of the events center really. But I still think this is a strange coincidence. In less consequential developmental news (probably), there was also a leadership change announced for Discover Kalamazoo - a local, destination marketing firm. The company has been without a permanent president since April, when Greg Ayers resigned and some other staff were laid off. This is random, but just since I got a photo while we were walking - there's some work going on at the old schoolhouse building in Portage's Celery Flats. My guess would be that they are replacing insulation. But this seems like a terrible time to do it, when the weather has been so wet. From 12/20/2020 - Also random - owner's of the popular "Lucky Rooster" restaurant in Battle Creek are ambitiously planning to open a new restaurant in January at the site of the former Moonraker Restaurant & Lounge. This former roadside diner will become home to "One Nation Tap & Table" - offering 'classic American fare with a modern twist'.
  15. Posted 12/23/2020 Source: Instagram | @downtowngrinc
  16. Spotted both of these recent pictures on Instagram . The first was posted just two days ago, by @hoteldistrictgrandrapids - The second is from November 30, posted by @chadronald -
  17. The Marketplace at Studio Park opened recently. Here are some photos posted on Instagram by downtowngrinc about a week ago -
  18. With the downtown rezoning wrapped up, Kalamazoo is focusing more on the planned zoning changes for its Eastside neighborhood. After efforts earlier this year were stifled due to COVID-19, the city is now seeking residents' input on this draft zoning map. The big goal is to remove zoning barriers that currently make it difficult to carry out infill & rehab developments along the E. Main and E. Michigan Corridors. They are proposing doing this primarily through the introduction of "Live Work" zones that have more flexibility of use. In other news, here is another article explaining the remaining steps necessary to finally link the KRVT with the Battle Creek Linear Park -
  19. While Perrigo works on its plans for a new HQ in downtown GR, construction on its 357,000 SF distribution center in Holland is moving along -
  20. Muskegon development proposals continue strong, with news that Jon Rooks / Parkland Properties is planning a new dry marina and townhomes on Muskegon Lake, near his Shoreline Inn, Lake House Waterfront Grille, Terrace Point Marina, and Terrace Point Landing. Now, if this happens, it is going to take years, due to the various levels of permits and approvals required at a state and federal level (for example, the dry dock would require a new boat well). But locally at least, it seems to have the full support of the city. The dry marina would occupy much of the existing parking lot for the Shoreline Inn. This city-owned lot would be transferred to Parkland through a quit claim deed and replacement parking would be provided along Terrace Point Drive. This project could also involve the extension of First Street from Terrace Point Drive to Terrace Point Road (the entrance to Shoreline Inn). This would provide a more direct link between all of the development on Terrace Point and downtown. The proposed townhomes would then be built along Terrace Point Drive and this First St. extension. I think modern-day Muskegon could easily be characterized as the town that Jon Rooks built. In addition to the above, his company also owns HighPoint Flats and the Delta by Marriott Hotel, and they are a partner in the development of the new convention center. Not to mention their donation of the former Masonic Temple for Muskegon CC's downtown campus. Source: MLive | Courtesy City of Muskegon
  21. Here are a few photos from LinkedIn of the first COVID-19 vaccines leaving Pfizer Global Supply in Portage, from earlier today -
  22. Update on the Brookstone Capital / Karl Chew proposal for 78 S. Division Ave. -
  23. I spotted this recent photo of Acrisure LLC's new office building, posted by Downtown GR Inc. on December 12 via Instagram - Speaking of, MEDC recently modified its incentive requirements for this project, in response to COVID-19 & construction delays (in favor of the company) -
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