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deja vu

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  1. First, the big news: Kalamazoo saves the world! Well, not really. But....kind of? This is probably the last time for a while that Kalamazoo makes national headlines, so let's bask in it for a moment (but, let's also not forget that Pfizer is technically in Portage) And with that out of the way, in case you missed it elsewhere, here's some catchup on smaller news / happenings in the Zoo from the past week - 1. Haymarket Plaza Treystar exceeded its crowdfunding goal of $50,000, meaning MEDC will now provide a $50,000 matching grant towards the ~ $125,0000 project. 2. City of Kalamazoo 2021 Budget The draft 2021 budget was unveiled last Monday, December 7. It is a bullish budget, in the sense that it proposes expanding city services and increasing capital investments during an ongoing pandemic. The total budgeted expenditures for all funds in 2021 is $213.9 million. This represents a 5.29% increase from the 2020 budget. Some of the significant capital investments include the new Public Safety facility and the planned improvements to the Kalamazoo Farmers Market. 3. Significant 2021 Projects in West Michigan Don't worry - we're tracking them all on here already, via this thread & the other West Michigan threads. 3 of the 9 listed are in Kalamazoo land, including: The Mill at Vicksburg - under construction (multi-phased / multi-year development) The Creamery - under construction (& nearly complete) Haymarket Plaza - under construction (& mentioned above) 4. Gun Violence Like many places, gun violence in the city has been up significantly this year. The city has agreed to set aside $100,000 of 2020 funds to help address this in the form of surveillance cameras, physical damage repairs (of gunshot holes in buildings), and mental damage repair (in the form of counseling). Lastly, and on a "lighter" note, here's a recent drone view of Kalamazoo's Bronson Park, taken by whiskyalphadelta and shared via Instagram -
  2. Thanks to a tip from a fellow poster on SSP, I was made aware of a large development proposal in downtown Kalamazoo from about a year ago that came through the Zoning Board of Appeals in December 2019. I admittedly have not kept up much with the zoning board of appeals, because the projects that come through there are typically not very high-profile. But with this one, it got me rethinking this approach and wondering what else might be tucked away in those agendas & minutes from the past year... A quick glance at the December 12, 2019 meeting minutes reveals that the board determined a zoning variance for height was not required, due to the height of Hinman's nearby Skyrise Apartments. It would be a moot point now anyway, as the recently passed Form Based Code for downtown allows unlimited height buildings in Zones D1 & D2 (440 S Burdick would fall in D2). Under the old rules, a new building could only be a maximum of 2 stories higher than any adjacent buildings. In theory, the new FBC allows for more density like this 10-story proposal. That ZBA meeting happened 1 year ago to the day (December 12, 2019). I am curious if COVID-19 has killed this proposal, or delayed it. I have been doing some more digging, but I haven't found anything else more recent about it. There was a mention about the address in a 2018 MLive article, because it was under consideration be included in a tax credit zone. I remember reading that, but did not make the connection until now. NoMI Developers is behind this proposal, and they do good work. Most of what they propose is thoughtful development that eventually seems to get built, so we'll see! Here are the grainy renderings of 440 S. Burdick, from the 12/12/2019 ZBA Agenda Packet. Two of the images were split across two pages so I tried to stich them back together - Source: City of Kalamazoo ZBA
  3. With news of the FDA's emergency authorization of Pfizer's / BioNTech's vaccine last night, I thought I'd share this: It is a strange feeling having Pfizer Global Supply in my own backyard (Portage, MI). This place is always active 24/7. But you can certainly notice an uptick in cars & trucks at the facility right now. And at least until Moderna & other vaccines receive approval, This site in Portage is the epicenter of the COVID-19 vaccine production effort in the US. I don't know if folks understand this, but Pfizer only completed its new massive cold-storage warehouse in March of 2018, almost exactly 2 years before COVID-19 disrupted everything. It is about 100,000 SF, added to their existing 4,000,000 SF production facilities. On top of that, Meridian just finished building a 321,000 SF, 87-dock global shipping & distribution center, literally right next door to Pfizer. The tenant? FedEx, which is taking over logistics & operations for distribution to the entire western half of the US for the vaccine. These facilities are both in very close proximity to the Kalamazoo / Battle Creek Int'l Airport and I-94. Call it coincidence or call it good planning, but it is amazing the number of circumstances that had to come into alignment for this to work. Here's a photo of my own from October 2017 of Pfizer's new cold storage warehouse under construction. It is essentially a Walmart-sized freezer - Here's an interior view, shortly before completion, in February 2018 - Source: MLive Here's a more-recent interior view, with some of the deep-freezer array visible in the background - Source: Independent.UK A closer view of some of the freezers (previously posted) - Source: Independent.UK An aerial view of Pfizer's Global Supply Campus in Portage. The new cold-storage warehouse is a tiny box by comparison (but huge in reality), and visibly under-construction on the far-left of the complex - Source: Pfizer And lastly, a view of that new Meridian / FedEx distribution warehouse next door, where the construction dust hasn't even settled yet - Source: RE Business Online
  4. The site plan review drawings (including plans & elevations) for the new downtown justice facility have been posted to the city's plan review site. I will work on converting & posting the images here later, but if anyone is curious and wants to see these now, just follow the link below - https://www.kalamazoocity.org/docman/site-plans/6951-335-w-kalamazoo-ave-meeting-date-12-3020/file I totally overlooked the fact initially that the front of this building faces Eleanor St. and not Kalamazoo Ave. Instead, the back faces Kalamazoo Ave. with mechanical / utility enclosures and sparse activity along the street edge. There have been some comments on Facebook about how this symbolizes the county government's turning of its back to residents of the north side. That's a bit too literal of an interpretation for me, but it's just an interesting point of view that I had not thought about, and perspectives matter when it comes to a civic building of this magnitude. I think the design team did a relatively good job of addressing the "arse-end" of the building, all things considered. And there's no arguing that the more pedestrian-focused corridor is to the south / southeast, not the north.
  5. And the winner is... VanDyk Mortgage Convention Center. A little bit out of the blue.
  6. A good-sized bond project is on the drafting table for Battle Creek Public Schools. Specifically, the district is looking at converting Northwestern Middle School into a K-8 arts academy. The majority of the $40 million bond would go toward construction & remodeling costs for this project, with a smaller amount going toward renovations to Springfield Middle School, which is transitioning toward an integrated service learning model. I think Northwestern MS was originally built in the 1960's, or maybe 1970's, judging by the architecture seen from google maps. Source: Battle Creek Enquirer | Battle Creek Public Schools / C2AE
  7. There's an interesting bit of info in this article. We already knew about the planned 3-story mixed-use building to replace the building that burned down at 902 W. North St. But this is the first I've read that the three remaining parcels (where three other buildings burned down) are also all going to potentially each have their own new apartment building. One of those might also have some ground floor commercial space. Now granted, each of these projects they will be relatively small, and things are preliminary still, but it is good news.
  8. And down she goes...140+ years of history into dust Source: Facebook - Kalamazoo: Views and Points of View | William Dolak, photographer Edit - I found 2 more - Source: Facebook - Kalamazoo: Views and Points of View | Steven Richard Ellis, photographer Source: Facebook - Kalamazoo: Views and Points of View | Steven Richard Ellis, photographer
  9. Interesting headline, because the construction schedule is anything but "on-track" - at least, not on the original track. Let's just say... it's on a new track. Instead of Fall 2020, the new groundbreaking is now scheduled for March or April 2021, with bid openings in January, board decisions in February, and completion sometime in 2023. The article provides a few interior renderings that I have not seen yet - it sounds like they were just revealed to the County Commissioners yesterday. There will be a central light well, and if funding can be obtained, a prismatic art installation in collaboration with the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. District Courtroom - Looking North District Courtroom - Looking East Clerk Lobby Security Vestibule Source: MLive | Courtesy Kalamazoo County
  10. It's official - Kalamazoo's new Hilton Garden Inn is open. Click on the link to the MLive article to view 60+ photos. I just included a few below - the lobby is obviously the main show piece. I remember standing in this building in 2017 when it was completely vacant and partially gutted. Quite a transformation from then to now! The hotel will operate at reduced capacity initially. Source: Joel Bissell | MLive
  11. This is a big step in the process to connect South Haven and Port Huron with a non-motorized trail system - Source: WKZO | Courtesy Parks Foundation of Kalamazoo County
  12. Well what have we here? Spotted this while on a walk yesterday, at the new WMU Business Technology & Research Park expansion (known now as BTR North). It is the new Borgess Cancer Center. I didn't realize construction had started already!
  13. More info on 266 E Michigan Ave. - The building was originally built in 1896, and it was known as the Hall Building. It has a decades-long history of being the home of several hotels, with one business apparently having 44 rooms, which seems like a lot, but I think they were quite small back then. Historical data is sketchy, but I found reference to a "Hotel Reed" and "Hotel Windsor" occupying the building (source). I found some fairly recent photos of the building on Greenridge Realty's website. Many more photos at their site. I am not so sure about the realtor's claim that "The additional commercial space on Levels 2, 3, and 4 boast the building's original character and history just waiting to be developed into apartments or condos." The upper floors look pretty gutted to me - not much original character left. It is the 4-story brick structure in the center - Source: Greenridge Realty, Inc. Interior of the former Ouzo's - Source: Greenridge Realty, Inc. Interior of the 105+ year-old Coney Island - Source: Greenridge Realty, Inc. Basement cooler - Source: Greenridge Realty, Inc. Basement dry storage - Source: Greenridge Realty, Inc. Look at all of this "original character" :haha: - Source: Greenridge Realty, Inc. Source: Greenridge Realty, Inc. Source: Greenridge Realty, Inc. Source: Greenridge Realty, Inc. Source: Greenridge Realty, Inc. Source: Greenridge Realty, Inc. Source: Greenridge Realty, Inc.
  14. There has been a lot happening behind the scenes via the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority of Kalamazoo - 1. 266 E Michigan Ave. First, a new Brownfield Redevelopment Plan for 266 E Michigan Ave. was posted on November 25 (street view). This building currently houses the downtown Coney Island, which is one of the oldest continually operating restaurants in town, and, according to Wikipedia, "the longest continuously operated Coney Island (in the same location... [since] 1915)." There is an adjacent ground-floor restaurant space that recently became vacant when Ouzo's closed. The three floors above have been vacant for decades, as several plans to redevelop them have come and gone. This new plan reflects a renewed interest in finally developing the upper floors of this key structure in historic downtown's Haymarket District. My understanding is that redevelopment has been challenging for a variety of reasons, including issues related to achieving compliance with current codes & zoning. The current plan was prepared by Southwest Michigan First, and it lists "266 MICHIGAN AVE KALAMAZOO LLC" (Matt O'Connor) as the owner / developer, with an address of 1000 Front Ave. NW Grand Rapids, Michigan 49504. The plan reports that the goal is to develop the upper three floors into a total of 11 market-rate apartments, while retaining the two business spaces on the first floor. The report projects a total investment of $3.5 million. The attachment that includes the floor plans is missing from the report. While this is probably intentional, I did email the city to ask if it is possible to see these. It may not seem like a lot to get excited over - 11 new apartments downtown - but this does represent a pretty big success, if it happens. The upper floors have been dark for decades, and any time a historic building can get its upper floors activated once again in downtown Kalamazoo is a win. In addition to being a BRA property, the building is in a national historic district and it is located within The Opportunity Zone, making it eligible for several sources of financial support. Approval of the development agreement was on the BRA's agenda for November 19. I will follow this post up with some photos. 2. 809, 813, and 817 Porter Street Also on this agenda -approval of a purchase and sale agreement between Innovative Design Properties, LLC and the BRA for the properties at 809, 813, and 817 Porter Street (street view). IIRC, this proposal is going to be some sort of housing development as well. 3. 315 E. Frank Street Third, the October 15 meeting minutes (included in the November 19 agenda packet) indicate that the purchase and sale agreement between Bogan Developments, LLC and the BRA for 315 E. Frank Street was approved (street view). The plan is for a mixed-use development, with a mix of affordable & market-rate apartments. 4. 508 Harrison Street Lastly, the October 15 meeting minutes contain some updates for 508 Harrison Street (street view). Few will recall that this redevelopment proposal was first announced in 2017. The plan is for a mixed-use / affordable housing development, at a projected cost between $12.5 - $25 million. That price range alone is a big clue to how many uncertainties & contingencies still exist for this prospective project, which has ran into numerous snags, including MEDC / MSHDA funding issues, site contamination from decades of industrial applications, site flooding, bad soils... well, just read this one excerpt from the minutes: Ugh. Who would want to touch this?!
  15. Took a walk downtown today for the first time in a while. Just a few quick shots, first, 180 E Water St, and second, the new Hilton Garden Inn, which opens Monday -
  16. Unsurprising news, the new Muskegon Convention Center - which has faced numerous delays from numerous issues - is now projected to be $2 million over budget ($21+ million, vs. the original $19.5 million budget). Perhaps equally unsurprising, the plan to makeup the difference with naming rights. Any guesses? Source: Cory Morse | MLive
  17. The Hilton Garden Inn opens to the public on Monday, November 30. This is a pretty big milestone for Kalamazoo, although the news is no doubt hampered a bit by the coronavirus. Its opening marks a few key things in my mind: The Radisson Plaza Hotel is no longer the only player in town, when it comes to downtown hotel facilities that are well-equipped to handle banquets, conferences, & weddings. The Radisson Plaza Hotel is no longer the only player in town, when it comes to downtown hotel facilities that are well-equipped to handle banquets, conferences, & weddings. Arcadia West is finally seeing substantial development, after decades-long planning, and this hotel will help catalyze more development in the future. The historic Masonic Temple, which originally opened in 1915, has a promising new future as a hotel as it continues into its second century of existence. Here are a few pre-opening photos from the past two weeks, posted recently on Facebook - Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo Downtown Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo
  18. Site plan review (re)submission is up for the Kalamazoo Farmer's Market Phase 1 improvements. This includes a new office / restroom building, refurbished + expanded covered booth areas, and a TON of new parking. I don't have the earlier submission handy to compare to, but it doesn't look like anything substantial has changed. I think it was mostly just delayed by COVID-19.
  19. Here's a smattering of Kalamazoo site plan review applications that have not been mentioned on here before. 1. Hawthorne Park The first is 205 E Stockbridge "Hawthorne Park". This was submitted in September 2019. It's a bit of a mystery project. The site plan review is focused only on landscaping, but there is a floor plan that reveals two buildings, one of which is mixed use commercial / residential and the other all-residential. I have no clue if this one is even alive still. If built, it would be directly next door to a pretty drab-looking Dollar General. Source: Kalamazoo Site Plan Review 2. Kalsee Credit Union This new branch office would be located at 3121 Portage Rd. (the corner of Portage & Cork). Currently, there is a 1-story and 2-story building on the site that would need to be demolished. I'll be a little sad to see the 2-story brick structure go - it most-recently housed a Stanley Steemer, and it was originally a city fire station. Everything about this is kinda funky - the site plan, the floor plan, and the elevations. This was submitted January 30, 2020, pre-COVID-19. Source: Kalamazoo Site Plan Review 3. Capital Health Group - Drug Rehab Facility This one is interesting, in that it proposes to rehab. a long-shuttered medical center to turn it into a rehab clinic at 1430 Alamo Ave. It was submitted to site plan review March 10, 2020, so right before the world went to hell. Like the first project, I have no idea if this thing still has legs. If it does, it's going to take some doing - I've been by that building a lot, and it is in rough shape. But it has a cool retro style and it would be really neat if it could be saved. Also, I find it kind of sad that it would be direct-adjacent to Fox Ridge Apartments, a public housing project that is notorious for violence and drug use. I mean, yeah, it's probably good that it is physically proximity to at least a partial portion of the population that it would likely serve, but how depressing is it do drive / walk / take the bus home to your apartment next to the drug rehab clinic? I feel the same way about the lower-income, single-family homes on the east side whos front yards stare right at the back of the Juvenile Detention Facility. Source: Kalamazoo Site Plan Review 4. Water Street Coffee Joint - Drive-Thru Addition (Oakland Drive Location) This plan review is recent (submitted November 16, 2020) - just really small. It proposes a small addition and site reconfigurations at the Oakland Drive Water Street Coffee location to equip it with drive-thru capability. Not much to comment on here - it makes sense in this time and I have no doubt it will go-through as planned. Source: Kalamazoo Site Plan Review
  20. By the way, here's the site plan rendering of the "Children's Nature Playscape" that First Reformed Church is being demolished for, from the previously shared article, as well as another, below -
  21. Here are two more updates that are bummers (to me), in Kalamazoo. An unnecessary reminder in 2020 that you can't win them all. The first update is disappointing from a historic preservation perspective. I just can't wrap my mind around the merits of knocking down a 140 year old church (one of the oldest left in the city) for a playground. For reasons I've expounded on before, this seems like a terrible move by the adjacent church (which owns the property) and the city (for allowing it to happen). Like most things in life, this decision, at the end of the day, is money-driven. The second update is disappointing primarily because it further mars the potential of the Kalamazoo River near downtown to ever become a draw for visitors and locals. It is being done so that Consumers can run two new power lines over the river to the Graphic Packaging Expansion. Like most things in life, this decision, at the end of the day, is money-driven. All in the name of progress, I suppose. Source: Wood TV 8 Source: WMUK | Courtesy Consumers Energy View looking south at the Kalamazoo River from the Mosel Ave. bridge. Two power lines will cross here and 720 trees will be removed, further marring the natural landscape of the river - Source: WMUK | Sehvilla Mann
  22. This is a little bit of a bummer, but not altogether surprising, given the series of circumstances leading to its demise - It is one of the more unique historic structures in downtown Battle Creek. At least the portion that will be demolished will not leave a gaping hole on Michigan Ave. as it is on the back alley side - google street view.
  23. Here are some construction images of the new Advia Credit Union HQ, taken during a building walk through on November 5. The exterior finishes are nice, and I think the interior will look good too when finished. There is some interior masonry work in the 3-story atrium lobby that will really look sharp. The vertical connections and transparency throughout the interior spaces would never be suspected from the outside. Almost the entire building will feature a UFAD (Underfloor Air Distribution) system.
  24. Two new site plan review applications were posted for review today for Kalamazoo. 1. The first is a new Marijuana Provisioning Center at 815 W Michigan Ave. Nothing too exciting here. A portion of an existing fitness center will be converted. This is direct-adjacent to WMU + K-College Campuses & off-campus student housing, so it seems like a no-brainer location. It looks like there will be some site work too, mainly to redo the parking lot. Architect is Driven Design (out of Battle Creek). 2. The second is much more significant. There is apparently a Phase 2 of 400 Rose, which I had no idea about. The street address is 234 W Cedar St. This will be directly west of Phase 1, and will take up the corner at W Cedar & S Park Streets. These three houses along S Park and this office building along W Cedar that served as AVB's Phase 1 field offices were already being demolished in September, so I figured something was up, but nothing of this magnitude. This looks to be almost the same magnitude as Phase 1, which was 4 stories / 135 units. Phase 2 is 4 stories, 101,00+ SF, and 102 new units. The materials and massing look like they will be pretty much the same as Phase 1 too. The CM is AVB. Architect is Progressive AE (out of Grand Rapids).
  25. Good news out of Muskegon - "The Leonard" has finally broke ground -
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