Jump to content

gvsusean

Let’s get it started again!

Recommended Posts

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.
 
2019_09_04_Kalamaoo_Hawthorne%20Park%20-
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.
 
2020_01_30_Kalamazoo_Kalsee%20Credit%20U
 
2020_01_30_Kalamazoo_Kalsee%20Credit%20U
 
2020_01_30_Kalamazoo_Kalsee%20Credit%20U
 
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.
 
2020_Kalamazoo_Capital%20Health%20Drug%2
 
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.
 
2020_11_11_Kalamazoo_Water%20St%20Coffee

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


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.

2020_11_22_Kalamazoo_Farmers%20Market_Am

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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 -

2020_11_23_Kalamazoo_Hilton%20Garden%20I
Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo Downtown

2020_11_23_Kalamazoo_Hilton%20Garden%20I
Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo

2020_11_23_Kalamazoo_Hilton%20Garden%20I
Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo

2020_11_23_Kalamazoo_Hilton%20Garden%20I
Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo

2020_11_23_Kalamazoo_Hilton%20Garden%20I
Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo

2020_11_23_Kalamazoo_Hilton%20Garden%20I
Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo

2020_11_23_Kalamazoo_Hilton%20Garden%20I
Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo

2020_11_23_Kalamazoo_Hilton%20Garden%20I
Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo

2020_11_24_Kalamazoo_Hilton%20Garden%20I
Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo

2020_11_16_Kalamazoo_Hilton%20Garden%20I
Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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 -

2020_11_28_Kalamazoo_180%20E%20Water%20S

2020_11_28_Kalamazoo_180%20E%20Water%20S

2020_11_28_Kalamazoo_Hilton%20Garden%20I

2020_11_28_Kalamazoo_Hilton%20Garden%20I

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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:

Quote

...MEDC and MSHDA were originally both offering support of this project. A year and a half into it, MEDC pulled their support. Then MSHDA said they would deny the site because of the active heat treatment plant next door. The site flooded twice. River Caddis found that the heat treatment plant site was badly contaminated... it took a year to get a purchase agreement with the heat treatment plant... because of the bad soils, they will put in Geopiers for all the buildings. They will have to dewater the site and they believe the water has PFAS... it has a long industrial history dating back decades. That has resulted in soil and groundwater contamination which includes petroleum contamination, chlorinated solvents and metals... they will need to install a vapor intrusion mitigation system, dewater the site and treat the water. Stormwater management will be important on this site. There is also asbestos on the site that needs to be abated...

Ugh. Who would want to touch this?!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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 -
2019_03_06_Kalamazoo_266%20E%20Michigan%
Source: Greenridge Realty, Inc.

Interior of the former Ouzo's -
2019_03_06_Kalamazoo_266%20E%20Michigan%
Source: Greenridge Realty, Inc.

Interior of the 105+ year-old Coney Island -
2019_03_06_Kalamazoo_266%20E%20Michigan%
Source: Greenridge Realty, Inc.

Basement cooler -
2019_03_06_Kalamazoo_266%20E%20Michigan%
Source: Greenridge Realty, Inc.

Basement dry storage -
2019_03_06_Kalamazoo_266%20E%20Michigan%
Source: Greenridge Realty, Inc.

Look at all of this "original character" :haha: -
2019_03_06_Kalamazoo_266%20E%20Michigan%
Source: Greenridge Realty, Inc.

2019_03_06_Kalamazoo_266%20E%20Michigan%
Source: Greenridge Realty, Inc.

2019_03_06_Kalamazoo_266%20E%20Michigan%
Source: Greenridge Realty, Inc.

2019_03_06_Kalamazoo_266%20E%20Michigan%
Source: Greenridge Realty, Inc.

2019_03_06_Kalamazoo_266%20E%20Michigan%
Source: Greenridge Realty, Inc.

2019_03_06_Kalamazoo_266%20E%20Michigan%
Source: Greenridge Realty, Inc.

2019_03_06_Kalamazoo_266%20E%20Michigan%
Source: Greenridge Realty, Inc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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!

2020_11_29_Kalamazoo_WMU%20BTR%20North.j

y4m2DikANjPs_7UBZStZrXOqopwNCgbyMGJDPU0E

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Quote

2020_12_01_Kalamazoo_Hilton%20Garden%20I

2020_12_01_Kalamazoo_Hilton%20Garden%20I

2020_12_01_Kalamazoo_Hilton%20Garden%20I

2020_12_01_Kalamazoo_Hilton%20Garden%20I

Source: Joel Bissell | MLive

Edited by deja vu

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Quote

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.

2020_12_01_Kalamazoo_County%20Justice%20

District Courtroom - Looking North
2020_12_01_Kalamazoo_County%20Justice%20

District Courtroom - Looking East
2020_12_01_Kalamazoo_County%20Justice%20

Clerk Lobby
2020_12_01_Kalamazoo_County%20Justice%20

Security Vestibule
2020_12_01_Kalamazoo_County%20Justice%20
Source: MLive | Courtesy Kalamazoo County

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Zoning change to pave way for new businesses, housing in Kalamazoo


Ryan Boldrey | MLive
December 4, 2020

KALAMAZOO, MI — Plans to rebuild are in motion for four properties destroyed by arson in Kalamazoo’s Northside neighborhood this June. All four properties, which border the Stuart and Douglas neighborhoods, will be home to multiple residential units and at least one will be the site of multiple ground-floor businesses as well...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Quote

 

Battle Creek schools unveils plans for $40 million bond that would create K-8 arts academy
Elena Durnbaugh | Battle Creek Enquirer
December 2, 2020

Battle Creek Public Schools wants to make Northwestern Middle School in an immersive visual and performing arts academy for students in grades K-8. To make it happen, school officials are hoping the community will support a 26-year $40 million bond. Under the proposal, Springfield Middle School would continue its transition to integrated service learning, a model that incorporates volunteer work and community involvement into the curriculum...

 

2020_12_02_Battle%20Creek_Northwestern%2
Source: Battle Creek Enquirer | Battle Creek Public Schools / C2AE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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 -
y4mmQT20fMKYBV3p3CwO1YMAs2wmtZJgwb953nbn

Here's an interior view, shortly before completion, in February 2018 -
y4meuAF8BysDLOL604tlh6GQjJAtZRp-KLGXBKr_
Source: MLive

Here's a more-recent interior view, with some of the deep-freezer array visible in the background -
2020_10_20_Portage_Pfizer%20Cold%20Stora
Source: Independent.UK

A closer view of some of the freezers (previously posted) -
2020_11_10_Kalamazoo-Portage_Pfizer%20CO
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 -
2020_Portage-Pfizer%20Campus.jpg?raw=1
Source: Pfizer

And lastly, a view of that new Meridian / FedEx distribution warehouse next door, where the construction dust hasn't even settled yet -
2020_Portage_Meridian%20FedEx%20Distribu
Source: RE Business Online

Edited by deja vu

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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 -

 

2020_12_11_Kalamazoo_440%20S%20Burdick%20St_Rendering%201.jpg?raw=1

 

2020_12_11_Kalamazoo_440%20S%20Burdick%20St_Rendering%202.jpg?raw=1

 

2020_12_11_Kalamazoo_440%20S%20Burdick%20St_Rendering%203.jpg?raw=1

Source: City of Kalamazoo ZBA

 

Edited by deja vu

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Quote

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.

Quote

City of Kalamazoo shares proposed 2021 budget


Will Kriss | WKZO
December 7, 2020

Quote

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)
Quote

9 Projects to watch in West Michigan


Kate Carlson | MiBiz
December 06, 2020

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).

Quote

Kalamazoo Faces Gun Violence, COVID-19


Andrew Robbins | WMUK
December 8, 2020

Lastly, and on a "lighter" note, here's a recent drone view of Kalamazoo's Bronson Park, taken by whiskyalphadelta and shared via Instagram - 

2020_12_12_Kalamazoo_Bronson%20Park%20Ch

Edited by deja vu

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Quote

Kalamazoo%20Eastside%20Zoning%20Changes.


In other news, here is another article explaining the remaining steps necessary to finally link the KRVT with the Battle Creek Linear Park -

Quote

Kalamazoo River Valley Trail supporters seek funds to finish the final link with trails to the east
Mark Wedel | Second Wave Media - Southwest MIchigan
December 17, 2020

All that's needed to complete the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail is for MDOT and Amtrak to play nice. And a million dollars. The Parks Foundation of Kalamazoo County has launched Campaign Connect, hoping to raise $1 million to finish the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail. Private funds raised, plus public funding from the Michigan Department of Transportation will go to finish the last few miles of trail to connect Galesburg and Augusta and link the KRVT system with the Battle Creek Linear Park at the Fort Custer Recreation Area. As of Dec. 11, according to a Parks Foundation of Kalamazoo County video (here), they've already raised around 65% of their goal...

Edited by deja vu

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.
 
Quote

 

Ryan Boldrey | MLive
December 21, 2020
 
KALAMAZOO, MI — After more than 15 years at the helm, Ron Kitchens announced Monday he will be resigning as the CEO of Southwest Michigan First, effective Jan. 15. Kitchens told MLive he has accepted a similar role at an organization in Alabama that will be announced next week. The move, he said, is being made to be closer to family...

 

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.

 
Quote

 

Ryan Bouldrey | MLive
December 14, 2020
 
KALAMAZOO, MI — Discover Kalamazoo announced Monday that Jane Ghosh has joined the organization as its new president and CEO. Ghosh succeeds Greg Ayers, who resigned in April after 12 years at the helm. Ghosh, who began serving with the organization Dec. 14, grew up in Portage and is a longtime Kalamazoo-area resident, a news release from Discover Kalamazoo states...

 

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 -

2020_12_20_Portage_Celery%20Flats%20Scho
 
 
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'.
 
Quote

 

Bill Broderick | Battle Creek Enquirer
December 22, 2020
 
Since last spring, as they saw construction going on at the old Moonraker location in Lakeview, fans of food wondered if a new restaurant was coming into town. Then a new sign went up recently with One Nation - Tap & Table blazoned across the front of the building. And that wonder turned into intrigue. Now, with photos leaking on the internet, people finding out that this is the same ownership group that brought us the wildly popular Lucky Rooster, and the words 'Coming Soon' on the marquee, the intrigue has turned into a full-out buzz for Battle Creek foodies...

 

2020_12_22_Battle%20Creek_One%20Nation%2

2020_12_22_Battle%20Creek_One%20Nation%2

2020_12_22_Battle%20Creek_One%20Nation%2
 
Edited by deja vu

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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 -

2020_12_30_Kalamazoo_Treystar-BP%20Gas%20Station%20Demo%201.jpg?raw=1

2020_12_30_Kalamazoo_Treystar-BP%20Gas%20Station%20Demo%202.jpg?raw=1

2020_12_30_Kalamazoo_Treystar-BP%20Gas%20Station%20Demo%203.jpg?raw=1

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 -

2020_12_31_Kalamazoo_W.%20Main%20and%20Drake%20Aerial.JPG?raw=1

Source: Google Maps

2020_12_31_Kalamazoo_W.%20Main%20and%20Drake%20Street%20View.JPG?raw=1

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 -

 

Quote

A woman is arrested after police say she crashed into the front of Treystar on E. Michigan Avenue in downtown Kalamazoo Wednesday night. Police say the driver was intoxicated at the time and suffered only minor injuries.

 

2020_12_30_Kalamazoo_Treystar%20Office%20Damage.jpg?raw=1

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 -

2020_12_29_Kalamazoo_Downtown.jpg?raw=1
Source: Instagram | @whiskeyalphadelta

Edited by deja vu

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

2021_01_07_Kalamazoo_1709%20Fraternity%2

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) -
2021_01_07_Kalamazoo_Eastside%20Square%2

1601 East Main -
2021_01_07_Kalamazoo_Eastside%20Phase%20

2021_01_07_Kalamazoo_Eastside%20Phase%20

2021_01_07_Kalamazoo_Eastside%20Phase%20

2021_01_07_Kalamazoo_Eastside%20Square%2

1616 East Main -
2021_01_07_Kalamazoo_Eastside%20All%20Ph

2021_01_07_Kalamazoo_Eastside%20Square%2

2021_01_07_Kalamazoo_Eastside%20Phase%20

2021_01_07_Kalamazoo_Eastside%20Square%2

Kalamazoo%20Eastside%20Zoning%20Changes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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...

Quote

 

Worst Spot for U.S. Brain Drain Gets Hope as Covid Vaccine Hub
By Vincent Del Giudi
December 31, 2020

The old factory town of Kalamazoo, Michigan, has become a center for Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing. That may help the area’s economy turn a corner after some tough years. Ranked highest in this year’s Bloomberg Brain Drain Index of population loss of top talent, Kalamazoo has struggled like the rest of the U.S. with the job-crushing pandemic. But the city got some hope when Pfizer Inc.’s factory in adjacent Portage recently became a key distribution point for the vaccine. The drugmaker and German partner BioNTech SE plan to deliver 200 million doses to the U.S. by July...

 

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. 

Quote

 

Kalamazoo researchers dispute Bloomberg ‘brain drain’ report
Kyle Mitchell | Wood TV 8
January 05, 2021

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Researchers in Kalamazoo are disputing a report that gave the metro area the worst ranking on the Bloomberg Brain Drain Index. The ranking lists communities that have lost the most highly educated workers in recent years. The W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research discovered the error. President Michael Horrigan says they are working to contact Bloomberg and have recalculated some numbers.

“They were comparing apples and oranges,” Horrigan said.

He says his organization noticed a substantial mistake in how the list was compiled...

 

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.

Edited by deja vu

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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" -

2020_12_31_Kalamazoo_Brain%20Drain%20Blo

2020_12_31_Kalamazoo_Brain%20Drain%20Blo

2020_12_31_Kalamazoo_Brain%20Drain%20Blo

2020_12_31_Kalamazoo_Brain%20Drain%20Blo

2020_12_31_Kalamazoo_Brain%20Drain%20Blo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a quick pic - yesterday, WMU posted a current aerial photo showing construction progress on their new Student Center & Dining Facility project - it is really starting to come together now. Bonus - you can catch the rear-view of Arcadia Flats (darkest building) in the distance -

2021_01_06_Kalamazoo_WMU%20Student%20Cen
Source: Instagram | @wmubuild

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.