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Here are a few more (more current) photos of the 24/7 daycare that will be housed in 7,000 SF of The Creamery. It will occupy the southernmost portion of the first floor and a connected mezzanine level. A 24/7 daycare poses some unique challenges - you need room for children of different ages to sleep, eat, play, and wash. The built-in elements look interesting, and designed to help accommodate these different zones. I can't imagine what a benefit this affordable childcare will be for some families, especially those working second or third shift, with younger kids at home -

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y4mxUuH1QGZzaO6CV67Nf048Sc9DAZ6YGmXxD09n

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Source: Secondwave Media

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Revel Creek / 500 Golden Dr. 

This new senior housing project at Heritage Community broke ground yesterday -

The article also includes some more-than-halfway-decent interior renderings I hadn't seen yet -

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Source: MLive | Courtesy Heritage Community of Kalamazoo

Miller Davis also posted a photo of the groundbreaking on their LinkedIn -

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Source: LinkedIn | Miller Davis

Downtown Kalamazoo Portland Loo

Here is a little more information about the Portland Loo that is being installed downtown this week - 

Kalamazoo’s new $107K outdoor public restroom opening soon


Brad Devereaux | MLive
October 21, 2020

Kalamazoo College Natatorium

There is a new construction video update on Kalamazoo College's website about their new Natatorium, which was originally supposed to open 10/10/2020 before COVID-19 had a say. The revised completion timeline is now sometime in winter 2021. This project is slightly underwhelming to me for some reason. I do like the roof though.

(link to video)

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A new site plan review document is up for the city. It is a fit-out for 2705 / 2707 W Michigan Ave (retail space in the first floor of this housing development near WMU). I have no idea what Kalamazoo Gallery Inc. (the listed tenant) is. They don't seem to have an online presence yet. The included drawings look like the original construction drawings with just a little new info added towards the front-end. Small beans, but nice to see a storefront get filled with a new mercantile business these days.

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Red Roof Inn Fire

The Red Roof Inn at Cork & Sprinkle suffered a major fire Friday night. It looks like it could be a total loss. One firefighter was injured. If the surrounding new hotels didn't do this place in, it looks like this fire might have -

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Source: WKFR

Downtown Zoning Updates Approved

Not surprisingly (but good news) - the City of Kalamazoo Planning Commission approved the recommended downtown zoning updates on October 1, with two positive amendments:

  • Adjusting Lot Types to permit no maximum height in Downtown 1 and Downtown 2 Districts (staff made this amendment during their presentation)
  • Adjusting Lot Types to require a 2-story minimum height in Downtown 3

With recommendation from the Planning Commission, the full City Commission will have a first reading tonight (10/26/20), followed by a subsequent public hearing and a vote at a second meeting to follow. Then it will be for formally approved & adopted.

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KDPS Station No. 2

A new site plan review application is up today, and this one is kind of interesting - it is for the new Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Station No. 2. This will be built at 1007 E Alcott St. in the Edison Neighborhood, but also near Millwood, Westnedge Hill, and Southside. It is on the edge of a solidly residential area, with a bit of industry too. I didn't really know that this was as far along in the design process as it is -

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Hilton Garden Inn Sky Bridge

N. Rose St. is officially reopened under the new sky bridge over that connects the Arcadia parking Ramp to the new Hilton Garden Inn. This was on 10/16/2020. Earlier in the morning it was closed, then when I was driving back home - open.

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The Mill at Vicksburg

Here's some neat info & photos about sustainability efforts with the Mill at Vicksburg redevelopment -

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For the developer at the Mill at Vicksburg, sustainability is key

Rob Peterson | Second Wave Media

October 22, 2020

Economic growth does not need to come at the expense of the environment, especially when the developer cares deeply about the community where the work is being completed. The Mill at Vicksburg, the $80 million redevelopment of the former Lee Paper Company mill about 20 minutes south of Kalamazoo, is one example. Developer Chris Moore’s goal is to create an enduring place for residents of his hometown to enjoy when it is completed...

 

 

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Chick-Fil-A

Lastly, and least-exciting (well, maybe not for some people) - the first Chick-Fil-A within the city limits is moving along at the northeast corner of Drake & West Main. It is fully-enclosed and masonry is going up -

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Remember those four residential structures that were destroyed by fire on North St. in June, in Kalamazoo? Well, there is already an ambitious plan in the works for a new, 3-story, mixed-use building to take their place. Coined "The Jabez Project" it will continue the dream that owner / developer Twala Lockett-Jones had to turn one of the destroyed properties into new affordable housing.

I actually am quite excited about this plan. It is a pity that the historic homes are forever lost, but I think this actually could be an appropriate project for the area, which is located on a busier road (North St.) that has been recently targeted for redevelopment as a commercial corridor. This project is viewed as a way to better connect the neighborhoods of West Douglas (very near where I live), Stuart, and the North Side. I feared we would be looking at demolition debris and perimeter fences for so much longer. Hopefully not.

Seven Generations Architecture + Engineering is behind the design. 7GenAE is one of the most active & growing firms in the city, doing work nationally (primarily with federal & Native-American projects) and almost always with a public-wellness-oriented approach. I really like most of their projects lately, and it is great to see them engaging with local stakeholders for this mixed-use project.

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From Setback to Comeback: Mixed-Use Rebuild to Connect Kalamazoo Neighborhoods
Seven Generations Architecture + Engineering
October 30,2020

2020_10_31_Kalamazoo_Jabez%20Project%20R
Source: 7GenAE

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A new pizza joint just opened up shop, in downtown Kalamazoo (former location of Kelvin & Co.). This one rounds out the local options with a 28", pizza-by-the-slice business model, reminiscent of some NYC locations. I haven't tried it yet, but it looks like a good, greasy slice of pie, which sometimes hits the spot!

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Source: Instagram | @downtownkalamazoo

2020_10_27_Kalamazoo_Benny%20DiCarta%27s
Source: Facebook | Benny DiCarta's

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Bronson held a building naming ceremony last week for its new cancer center near downtown Kalamazoo. It is officially now known as the Frank J. Sardone Pavilion, named in honor of the healthcare group's longtime CEO who retired last year after 32 years with Bronson. It was crappy weather for a naming ceremony, but the building looks good, and it is almost complete, with the first procedures scheduled to occur before the end of 2020.

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2020_10_30_Kalamazoo_Bronson%20Sardone%2

2020_10_30_Kalamazoo_Bronson%20Sardone%2
Source: LinkedIn | CSM Group

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It's been a while since some construction cam updates with the stuff happening at WMU. Here are some stills from yesterday (which had much nicer weather than today).

Arcadia Flats -
2020_10_31_Kalamazoo_WMU%20Arcadia%20Fla

South Neighborhood Overall -
2020_10_31_Kalamazoo_WMU%20South%20Neigh

New Student Center & Dining Facilities -
2020_10_31_Kalamazoo_WMU%20Student%20Cen

Edited by deja vu

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Tonight (11/5)

There is a public hearing scheduled at 7:00pm for the City of Kalamazoo's Natural Features Protection updates. If the proposal is recommended by the Planning Commission, it will move on to final review and adoption by the City Commission. The updates involve proposed amendments to Chapter 50, Article 6 of the Zoning Code that are meant to clarify interpretation and application of the code, as well as a revised NFP overlay map that would expand protected areas.

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It's not everyday that the Kalamazoo-area has an international impact. But I think this might count... With the very positive news of a 90%-effective trial vaccine from Pfizer, the massive Kalamazoo (Portage)-MI production facility (see it on google maps) is ramping up & preparing to produce potentially millions of vaccination doses in our own backyard. News like this makes me proud to be a Kalamazooan.

Quote

Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine is looking 90% effective
Lauran Neergaard and Linda A. Johnson | Associated Press
November 10, 2020

Image of a freezer farm under-construction at Pfizer's Kalamazoo (Portage)-MI production facility which will (hopefully) store COVID-19 vaccine doses -

2020_11_10_Kalamazoo-Portage_Pfizer%20CO
Source: Jeremy Davidson / Pfizer via AP

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I practically forgot about the planned renovations to Battle Creek's "premier" hotel. It was announced so long ago. Now we hear why there's been a delay. Hopefully this is the best possible outcome... it can't be easy these days to operate a hotel as large and as dated as McCamly Plaza.

Quote

 

Battle Creek Unlimited assumes ownership of McCamly Plaza Hotel
Lacy James | WBCK
November 10, 2020

Battle Creek Unlimited assumes ownership of McCamly Plaza Hotel following legal action and years of promises to renovate the property. More than four years ago the news broke that Battle Creek’s McCamly Plaza Hotel would undergo a $3.5 million renovation in a process to convert it to a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel. Four years later, the community continued waiting for the owners to start the process. Two years ago, Battle Creek Unlimited (BCU) stepped up to try and move the process along, with a $3.5 million loan, underwritten by the Direct Investment Fund (DIF). After the owners failed once again to start construction, BCU announced in January that legal action had begun to foreclose on the property...

 

In separate news, the City of Kalamazoo formally approved the proposed downtown zoning amendments on November 2, and the changes go into effect November 12.

http://www.imaginekalamazoo.com/projects/downtownzoning/

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About one month ago, AMC announced it would be reopening the Kalamazoo Portage Street 10 (and 520 other theaters around the country), which had been temporarily shuttered due to COVID-19 (link to article).

Today, news has broke that this theater is now (seemingly permanently) closed. AMC's tenure at this location was sad and short-lived, and its demise is not all that surprising. Even before COVID, it rarely seemed full, with plenty of nearby competition offered by the more suburban GQT 10 on West Main, Celebration Cinema in Portage, and even M-89 Cinema in Plainwell.

AMC took over this location in 2017, after Alamo Drafthouse was effectively kicked out by not being permitted to continue its lease. Alamo was there for roughly as long as AMC - 3 1/2 years. Prior to Alamo, Rave Cityplace 14 occupied the building, before its lease was terminated after about 6 years, in 2012. The AMC closure, while no doubt influenced by COVID-19, seems to have followed a similar pattern to its two predecessors. The one consistent factor: Kansas City-based landlord, EPR Properties. I'm not saying this is all EPR's fault, but clearly they don't see the Kalamazoo market as a priority.

Quote

AMC Portage Street 10 in Kalamazoo closed
Wood TV 8 Staff
November 10, 2020

If you are saddened by this news, have no worries. AMC Theaters is quick to remind you on its website -

Quote

We hope to see you at our next nearest location: AMC Holland 8

...a convenient 51 miles away  :P

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Here's two other articles on BCU's takeover of Battle Creek's beleaguered McCamley Plaza Hotel. I am curious if anyone on this forum has any experiences staying here, either recently, or in the "glory days" of the past. My neighbor is familiar with it and said that the interior is severely dated, and the windows and most of the HVAC systems have long-needed replacement. The property will turn 39 years old next week.

It is hard to envision right now how Battle Creek can sustain a ~240-room, 15-story hotel. Not to mention, what to do with the connected McCamley Place mall portion. Last time I was in there (pre-COVID) it was a ghost town. Then again, the city pulled off a miracle with the restoration of Heritage Tower (aka The Milton). I wonder if this could potentially become a mix of hotel and apartments.

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McCamley Place shortly after opening, c. 1981. Back then , it was originally called the Stouffer Battle Creek Hotel. You can see Kellogg Arena in the background and the mall in the foreground -
1981_Stouffer%20Battle%20Creek%20Hotel-M
Source: WBCK | Courtesy Historical Society of Battle Creek archives

Same view of McCamley Place in 2019 - 
2019_McCamley%20Place.jpg?raw=1
Source: WBCK | Annie Kelley

Edited by deja vu

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Here's an article containing a bit more info about Revel Creek - the new senior housing that will start construction in January 2021 at Kalamazoo's Heritage Community. Specifically, information about the Memory Care Learning Center Component, which is scheduled to be completed in the initial phase - just five months of construction time - and will include basically everything shown in the below interior rendering. I don't know how they are going to pull that off.

Quote

2020_Kalamazoo_Revel%20Creek_Memory%20Ca
Source: Second Wave Media | Courtesy Heritage Community of Kalamazoo

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In local, extremely underwhelming architecture news, the new Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) office at the growing public health services center on E. Alcott is complete. This bland EIFS edifice was designed by Royal Oak-based architecture firm Krieger Klatt and constructed by Walbridge. It "features" a 2-story, 70,000 SF building atop a level of covered parking. This rounds out the campus, which is also home now to the County's own department of Health & Human Services, a Family Health Center, and Kalamazoo Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services (now known as "Integrated Services of Kalamazoo"). 

The majority of this campus sits upon former brownfield property. It is a good example of reuse and community vitalization, turning previously toxic land into a campus devoted to public health. And I have no issues with that. My main complaint is the odd agglomeration of architectural styles. The county health building is a repurposed historic masonry building from the paper mill days. The mental health facility is a 1980's-era, office-park style brick building. The family health center looks kind of like a glass spaceship. And then the state department building is a giant stucco box.

It seems like the campus entirely lacks any foresight or masterplan, even though it all came together in just the past 5 years. There's really no rhyme or reason to it (except that the state department building was the one that was most-obviously budget-driven).

Quote

2020_11_11_Kalamazoo_MDHHS%20Office%20Bu
Source: MiBiz (Courtesy Photo)

For comparison...
 
The Family Health Center -
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The County Department of Health & Human Services -
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The Integrated Services (Mental Health & Substance Abuse) Building -
2020_11_15_Kalamazoo_Integrated%20Servic
Source: Google Maps

All adjacent to each other.

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The City of Kalamazoo dropped three new site plan reviews recently. All three are small projects - all urban garden proposals, all in the Edison Neighborhood, and all led by "Zoo City Farms". The properties under proposal are:

  1. 1316 Mills Street
  2. 736 Jackson Street
  3. 1503 Washington Avenue

The site plans list Battle Creek-based "The Urban Arts Exploratory & Meditation Center" as the client.

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Recently, the Northside neighborhood, with the help of the City of Kalamazoo, launched an RFP for 501 N. Westnedge, and there was a virtual bidder's conference on Saturday, November 14. This property is a brownfield site, most recently home to an auto repair shop that closed its doors (see it on Google street view). Among other things, the RFP lists preferred uses for the site, several of which are bolded (meaning, they received more than one vote from community stakeholders). This list tells you just some of the deficiencies in the neighborhood -

  • Laundromat
  • Cafe / Coffee Shop
  • Prevention Center
  • 24-Hour Day Care
  • Urgent Care / Walk-In Clinic
  • Discount Variety Store (Dollar Tree)

You can view the RFP here. Letters of intent are due November 30.

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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).

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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. 

2020_09_10_400%20Rose%20Phase%202%20Demo

2020_09_10_400%20Rose%20Phase%202%20Demo

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).

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2020_11_17_234%20W%20Cedar%20St%20Site%2

2020_11_17_234%20W%20Cedar%20St%20Site%2

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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. 

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2020_11_05_Kalamazoo_Advia%20CU%20HQ%20T

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Edited by deja vu

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This is a little bit of a bummer, but not altogether surprising, given the series of circumstances leading to its demise -

Quote

 

Judge orders 6-story downtown Battle Creek tower demolished
Trace Christenson | Battle Creek Enquirer
November 12, 2020

A judge has ordered that a 120-year-old, six-story building in downtown Battle Creek be demolished. Calhoun County Circuit Court Judge Sarah Lincoln on Thursday granted a motion from the City of Battle Creek to remove part of the Binder Building  at 34 E. Michigan Ave. because it is unsafe. The judge's decision may end a fight between the city and the building's owner, Bryant DeBolt, about the future of the stone triangle-shaped tower built in 1900...

 

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.

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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. 

Quote

Vacant Kzoo church to be razed to make way for playscape
Nick Ponton | Wood TV 8
November 20, 2020

2020_11_20_Kalamazoo_First%20Reformed%20
Source: Wood TV 8

Quote

City Commission Votes To Cut 721 Trees
Sehvilla Mann & John McNeill | WMUK
November 16, 2020

2020_11-16_Kalamazoo_Consumers%20Energy-
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 -
2020_11-16_Kalamazoo_Consumers%20Energy-
Source: WMUK | Sehvilla Mann

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