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  #101  
Old Posted Jul 16, 2017, 8:24 PM
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A few construction update photos from around the city, from this weekend. We'll start with the new highrise - a crane for The Exchange can be spotted in the distance. For more construction update photos of The Exchange, look here:


This photo is more of a non-construction update. The recently cleared lot at the corner of John St and E Lovell St. sits quietly, as we all wait to see what Bronson Methodist Hospital proposes for the site (we know that the program will include medical labs, but I'm hoping for something mixed-use, that engages with pedestrians at street level):


There was some sidewalk repair going on though:


Farmer's Alley was getting its topcoat Saturday morning and it looks great. This and adjacent alleys were torn up for over a year as they did utility work. The rebuilt alley network in this area is an improvement for pedestrians and cyclists, offering full-width accessible sidewalks, built-out curbs, new bike racks, etc. All of the ground-floor spaces used to be retail and are being converted over to apartments:










The five-block spread of underutilized surface lots, which may finally get redeveloped as Arcadia Commons West in the coming years:

[IMG]https://s0i6bq-

Roofers doing some work on First Baptist Church:


I don't know what's going on here at Arcadia Creek at Festival Place - the water is mostly gone, and there are several tanks, pumps, and heavy machinery. My guess is this is a routine clean-up effort. Never seen it empty though in the two years I've lived here:


These next two are of The Foundry (open-concept office space). I am so underwhelmed with how Phase 1 (below) turned out on the exterior, although the interior looks much better:


Phase 2 is underway in the brick portion, it is intended to become a brew-pub, because there weren't enough of those already:


The Shoppes on Westnedge are humming along, bringing a little bit more of suburbia to the bottom of Westnedge Hill:


The RX Optical HQ, which I think looks better from the back...


...than the front (the side that faces Westnedge):


I was surprised to find that some equipment is on site and work is already starting at the former Illinois Envelope Company Building, on the edge of the former Bryant Paper Mill site. This 3-story, 100-year old brick building will become the new home for the County's consolidated Department of Health and Human Services, once completed Fall of next year.


Finally, a drive by of the new HomeGoods Inc. store, under construction right across the border in Portage. The furniture retailer will be adjacent to Earth Fare, which opened several years ago:
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  #102  
Old Posted Jul 21, 2017, 12:18 PM
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New information is out on the restaurant that will occupy the brick portion of The Foundry project. Turns out it won't be a brew-pub, as was earlier rumored, but a 45,00 SF, Farm-to-Table restaurant called '600 Kitchen & Bar.' It will be managed by the growing Millennium Restaurant Group, and a tentative opening date of October 2017 is set. Phase 1 of The Foundry, which includes the 'living-office' space in the attached strucutre, is wrapping up currently.

According to the article,

Quote:
"When completed, 600 Kitchen & Bar will give Millennium Restaurant Group its 13th location. Including Cove Lakeside Bistro, the group includes Martell's, Epic Bistro, Central City Tap House, The Union Cabaret and Grille, Fieldstone Grill, Centre Street Tap House,The Wine Loft, Cityscape Events Center, The Idler Riverboat and Dockside, Sprinkle Road and Millennium Catering."
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600 Kitchen & Bar to open in downtown Kalamazoo at The Foundry
By Al Jones | MLive
July 20, 2017
Exterior View:


Interior View:

Images Source: MLive | Al Jones
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  #103  
Old Posted Jul 21, 2017, 1:13 PM
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The City Commission unanimously approved the new Strategic Vision document this week. In addition, the 130-page draft Master Plan has been released to local departments and agencies for a 2-month commenting period:

Quote:
Kalamazoo approves strategic vision, seeks feedback on master plan
By Malachi Barrett | MLive
July 17, 2017
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Kalamazoo's plan to transform downtown, neighborhoods in 10 years
By Malachi Barrett | MLive
July 17, 2017
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  #104  
Old Posted Jul 22, 2017, 2:05 PM
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Starting in 2015, Sawall Health Foods underwent a renovation and expansion of their space in the Oakwood neighborhood, adding a new 2-story front addition. I always thought it was neat that they built 'up', more than 'out', due to space constraints. Now news is out that the café will expand on the second floor and offer a full dining menu this August. Sawall's heralds itself as the nations oldest health foods store, having opened in 1936 (hence the name for the café):






Images Source: MLive | Al Jones
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  #105  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2017, 12:14 AM
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Portage Public Schools published some drone footage to youtube recently, showing construction progress on some of the $144 million bond projects. The first video shows the transport and installation of the first beams for the new Natatorium at Portage Central High School - these are massive, pre-cast concrete members:

Video Link


The second video shows general construction progress at the Northern Campus, including all-new Athletic Fields and the new, 3-story Northern Middle School (foundations only so far). Portage Northern sits along the edge of I-94, which you can see in some of the views, along with a glimpse of Trade Centre III on the far side of the highway (I suggest turning down the volume, as the music is rather annoying):

Video Link
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  #106  
Old Posted Aug 4, 2017, 5:08 PM
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Two new eateries opened this past week, one on the Mall, and one on West Lake. Cove, on West Lake, is housed in a building that was previously occupied by office space and (2) earlier restaurant ventures, which closed. I drive by here nearly every day, and I have not seen an empty space in the parking lot since opening day.

Quote:
Cove Lakeside Bistro opens Monday on West Lake in Portage
By Al Jones | MLive
July 31, 2017

...Starting Monday, July 31, the bistro will serve lunch and dinner, opening at 11 a.m. Monday through Friday, and at noon Saturday and Sunday. It is owned and operated by the Kalamazoo-based Millennium Restaurant Group. The 7,000-square-foot eatery will seat up to 125 people in its main dining areas, 40 at an indoor bar area, and 96 on an outdoor patio. It also features a large bar area and an interior dining room that has views of West Lake...





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Artisan Sandwich Co. opens in downtown Kalamazoo
By Al Jones | MLive
August 3, 2017

KALAMAZOO, MI -- The Artisan Sandwich Co. opened Monday at 348 S. Kalamazoo Mall in downtown Kalamazoo. The business sells delicatessen-style sandwiches made with customers' choice of organic breads, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and/or mayonnaise...The shop utilizes a 980-square-foot space that was occupied until last year by Exquisite Hair Designs. That business relocated not far away to 131 W. South St.





And in other restaurant news, a small café and outdoor park is planned for a vacant lot in Kalamazoo's Northside neighborhood. Hopefully it will prove naysayers wrong and catalyze more positive development in the area:

Quote:
Outdoor cafe planned at vacant brownfield site on Kalamazoo north side
By Malachi Barrett
August 1, 2017

KALAMAZOO, MI -- Small business-owners Ricky and Yvone Thrash plan to create an outdoor park and cafe on vacant land in Kalamazoo's Northside neighborhood. The pair run Ennovy's Beauty Bar, which opened last October on 118 W. North St., and plan to purchase a adjacent brownfield property from the city of Kalamazoo. Ricky Thrash, a retired city employee, wants to transform the overgrown and neglected property at 703 N. Burdick St. into a place where a diverse group of people can share a meal...
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  #107  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2017, 3:51 PM
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The Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 Draft Master Plan is now available for public review and comment here. Public comments can be made online through Friday, September 15th, through the city's Open Town Hall. A public presentation of the plan will occur on Tuesday, September 12th at 7 p.m. at the KIA.

In the meantime, the City Commission will continue the discussion of proposed Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation for the Foundation for Excellence during its next meeting on Monday, August 7. This draft document, which was created to guide the functioning of a new Foundation charged with managing a $500 million donation to the city, was introduced on July 24. Following the August 7 meeting, the City expects that the Articles and Bylaws will be considered for approval at the subsequent meeting on August 21.
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  #108  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2017, 12:14 PM
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Some construction update photos, mostly downtown Kalamazoo, from Monday, August 7:

246 Michigan Ave - Conversion of 1/2 of an empty building, originally constructed 1989, to a private residence. A new garage has been added on the alley side, and a new balcony will be added too:


The Mall Plaza Building, as seen from Farmers Alley. It is being converted in mostly apartments with indoor parking (accessed by those garage doors):


Farmer's Alley is complete and open once again. The City actually held a ribbon cutting for it:


Conversion of empty storefronts to ground-floor apartments, along E South St:


The interiors are nearly complete, and major appliances are in the units:




216 / 220 Michigan Ave is being converted into ground-floor retail, second floor office space, and third floor apartments. The red and white brick buildings were built in 1879. All four of the storefronts visible in this photo have been vacant for a while:


Same project, from behind:






The Exchange. I posted more photos on the separate thread dedicated to this high rise:


There's a tiny addition happening on to of Bronson Methodist's main Hospital building. I can only assume it is to serve mechanical equipment on the roof:




This last project is somewhat unique; a new home for the Congregation of St. Joseph, a group of aging Catholic nuns that are planning to move out of their current facility located nearby on the same property. By the looks of it, it will be a nice-looking structure with quality materials. It is basically like a senior living facility, only with a church / chapel attached:










Don't see many Catholic Churches / Chapels being built new these days:



Last edited by deja vu; Aug 9, 2017 at 12:31 PM.
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  #109  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2017, 1:22 PM
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Portage Construction update photos, taken Tuesday, August 8. Two small projects and one huge one.

First, the new Portage Central HS Natatorium, which has all of its precast roof beams installed:




Second, the new Portage memory Care Facility, which is nearly complete. Furniture is being installed now:




Lastly, some photos that I took while walking around the massive site of the future Stryker Campus / Global Headquarters, which is approximately 300 acres, and bounded by Milham Ave, Portage Rd, Ramona Ave, and Lovers Lane. This is officially the largest and most expensive project happening currently in either Portage or Kalamazoo ($150+ Million). A reminder of what the main building (which just began foundation work), will look like:


And the Site Plan:

Images Source: MLive

It will follow the wooded, secluded, sprawling corporate-campus model (as opposed to something more urban, in the city core), but there is now finally something under construction that will be worth photographing in Portage!


These deer will need to find a new home:

























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  #110  
Old Posted Aug 10, 2017, 9:27 PM
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Second Wave Media published an article about a new art installation that was recently installed on a vacant building in the Edison Neighborhood. The installation, called "Inside Out: We are Edison" brings attention to the great diversity of the neighborhood and the strides it has made to reconstruct its commercial core in recent years. The work is inspired by an artistic initiative begun by a French street artist. This link, included in the article, shows how different the commercial landscape looked around the year 2000, when a porn shop, adult boutique, and strip club were the main businesses.

Quote:
We Are Edison: Portraits of the people of Edison Neighborhood show community pride
By Mark Wedel | Second Wave Media
Thursday, August 03, 2017

The faces of Kalamazoo's Edison Neighborhood are speaking to their community. It’s a sunny summer noon on Portage Street. A man slowly drives by and shouts out to the people helping to paste up large prints of faces on the former Kalamazoo Color Lab building: "Souls that are testifying!" Project coordinator Anna Roeder and photographer Fran Dwight have gotten many reactions, all positive, to "Inside Out: We Are Edison."

Earlier, a man parked, walked over, and "started crying tears of joy," Roeder tells Dwight. "He doesn't even live in the neighborhood, but he said it just made him so proud to live in Kalamazoo." Dwight replies, "when we start to touch people outside the neighborhood... I think we really hit the mark."

...


Image Credit: Mark Wedel | Second Wave Media
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  #111  
Old Posted Aug 11, 2017, 1:46 PM
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I noticed some construction activity and security guards at the former Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, which was shuttered earlier this year (180 Portage St). Now, today news that AMC Theatres is going to take over the facility, with a planned Fall opening. The working name, AMC Kalamazoo 10, is rather uninspiring, but it is good to hear that it sounds like they are going to do an extensive overhaul of the interior finishes and furnishings, and that the full-service bar will remain as part of the business. No info on construction costs was provided, but it is being done with non-public funds. There's a lot of hate aimed towards property owner EPR about its apparent ousting of well-respected Alamo earlier this year, only to bring in their own Theatre affiliate, AMC, but I think having a theatre in the urban core is an important draw for Kalamazoo's small, but still present, entertainment district. Time will tell if this third iteration of a downtown cinema on this site will succeed.

Quote:
AMC Theatres plans a fall opening in downtown Kalamazoo
By Al Jones | MLive
August 11, 2017

KALAMAZOO, MI -- AMC Theatres will be the next user of the former Alamo Drafthouse Cinema complex at Portage and South streets in downtown Kalamazoo. Kansas-based AMC, which is the largest movie theater operator in the nation, announced Thursday that theater renovations started this week at the 180 Portage St. location and a 10-screen multiplex will open by late fall.

"Once open, the theater will feature AMC's Signature Recliners, reserved seating and ticketless entry, the latest in sight and sound equipment, a remodeled concession area and, with AMC Feature Fare, an expanded menu far beyond the traditional movie theater fare," the company stated in a press release.

...
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  #112  
Old Posted Aug 12, 2017, 12:39 PM
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The new Aldi on West Main will officially open this Thursday 8/17, and will close its former location, located just a two storefronts away, on Sunday 8/13. So instead of being on the west side of RX Optical, it will now be on the east side. The new Aldi's is a build-out of a former Office Depot store, and at 21,000 SF, will be about 4,000 SF larger than its former location. This change marks just one of many improvements the discount grocer has been making in the area. Most of its west Michigan locations have been receiving renovations or expansions in the past few years.

Quote:
Aldi is set to open new store west of Kalamazoo
By Al Jones | MLive
August 12, 2017

KALAMAZOO, MI -- Discount grocer Aldi will close its 5355 W. Main St. store on Sunday and open its newest area location at 5317 W. Main St. on Thursday. The low-price, no-frills grocer said its older store will officially close at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 13. The opening of the new store, in the former Office Depot location, will be marked by a ribbon-cutting and grand opening festivities on Thursday, Aug. 17...
Seeing double? The Existing West Main Aldi, located west of RX Optical (RX Optical in foreground):


The new location, located east of RX Optical (RX Optical in background)

Images Source: MLive | Mark Bugnaski
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  #113  
Old Posted Aug 19, 2017, 1:54 PM
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The City is trying to find a new use for a former downtown fire station, built in the 1950s. There was a public open house meeting on August 8 to gather ideas from the community. It's kind of in a dead zone, south of the Mall. Whatever happens to it, I hope it becomes something that can attract more foot traffic and hopefully spur new development around it.

Here's an aerial view:


Image Source: Google Maps

Quote:
Development ideas sought for downtown Kalamazoo fire station
By Malachi Barrett | MLive
August 07, 2017

KALAMAZOO, MI -- The city of Kalamazoo is seeking the public's help to decide what to do with a 60-year-old former fire station downtown. Built in 1957, the former Fire Station No. 1 at 116 W. Cedar St. was used as the fire marshal's office and a Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety training facility until it was transferred to the city's Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. Residents can share their redevelopment ideas at a public meeting from 5:30-7 p.m. Aug. 8 in the downtown branch of the Kalamazoo Public Library...
The property looks like it needs much work:





Images Source: MLive | Carly Geraci
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  #114  
Old Posted Aug 23, 2017, 3:26 AM
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A task force is being set up to explore ways to rethink the underutilized Arcadia Creek Festival Place downtown. The number of annual festivals (and attendance at the remaining ones) has dwindled in recent years, due to high costs to rent the space and competition from other venues. I think a portion of it should be developed into denser housing and the remainder left as a smaller, more passive recreation area that can better accommodate the KVRT through downtown.

Quote:
Kalamazoo brainstorms how to boost underused downtown festival site
By Malachi Barrett | MLive
August 22, 2017
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  #115  
Old Posted Aug 27, 2017, 2:28 PM
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Last Monday, August 21, the City Commission voted 5-2 to approve a new Foundation, which will become the steward of an eventual 500 million dollar endowment. Here's a few updates on the newly-formed Kalamazoo Foundation for Excellence, and the fund:

The foundation board consists of fifteen individuals, of which nine minimum must be residents of the City. The $70.3 million dollars of seed money for this endowment was privately donated by two local philanthropists, William Johnston and William Parfet in 2016. Johnston is married to Ronda Stryker, granddaughter of the founder of Stryker Corp. Their estimated net worth is $3.7 billion. Parfet is great-grandson of the founder of The Upjohn Co. and retired CEO of MPI Research. So basically, two descendants of the families that founded the two most profitable businesses in the history of the region. It is claimed that the money comes with no strings attached, but some remain skeptical.

The first official meeting for the Foundation was held this past Friday, August 25. At the meeting, the bylaws and calendar were reviewed and adopted, and some negotiations with the Kalamazoo Community Foundation were conducted. The City still needs to raise a lot of money to make the fund self-sustaining, however, some dollars from this donation have already been put to use on several neighborhood improvements, including lead pipe removals, community programs, and neighborhood cleanup efforts. Loftier goals involve using the funds to support a city-wide property tax reduction and methods of combatting the city's homelessness generational poverty challenges (of which there are a lot), as well as provide tens of millions for new city projects and programs.

It should be interesting to see how effectively this money gets channeled, and hopefully it leads to some exciting developments and improvements in the City, and soon. Some useful pages for further reference:

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Foundation for Excellence
City of Kalamazoo Webpage
Quote:
6 things to know about $70 million donation to Kalamazoo
By Julie Mack | MLive
July 29, 2016
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  #116  
Old Posted Aug 27, 2017, 2:54 PM
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West by Southwest recently did an interesting short piece explaining the history of how Portage became incorporated as its own city, and why it's not part of Kalamazoo today. It's about 5 minutes long; you can listen to it here.

Basically, The Upjohn Company (now part of Pfizer) played a major role in Portage's eventual incorporation. After Upjohn made the decision in the 1940s to relocate from downtown Kalamazoo to the rural countryside south of the city, many people moved with it. Kalamazoo fought back by tripling its size through annexation efforts. But combined with the growing racial tensions of the 1950s and 60s, Upjohn's move created an expanding suburban population base that soon desired incorporation and independent governance from the County.

It is common local knowledge (among older residents anyway) how, in early 1963, two different Petitions were submitted to the County Clerk's office on the same day. One, by the City of Kalamazoo, was submitted to annex the rural land that The Upjohn Company sat upon (effectively eliminating Portage Township's primary economic engine, and in theory, it's rapid growth). The other one was submitted by Portage Township to incorporate itself and everything within its boundaries (including the Upjohn facility) as a new City. Portage ultimately won the race to submit its petition by a mere 45 minutes ahead of Kalamazoo. And thus, the City of Portage was born, in February 1963.

Portage is much more than just one company today, but the legacy of Upjohn lives on in the area through Pfizer's facilities. Back in the day, Upjohn was king of the rural countryside south of Kalamazoo. Here's an image of the Upjohn plant, as it appeared in 1958, shortly after its suburban relocation, in what was then Portage Township:


Image Source: John Todd / John Todd Collection, Portage District Library
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  #117  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2017, 1:33 AM
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There is a reception on Tuesday, September 12, 6:30pm - 8:30pm, at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, where the public can review and discuss the draft "Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 Master Plan". City planning staff will be on-hand to answer questions and receive feedback, and Mayor Hopewell will give a presentation at 7:00pm on the Imagine Kalamazoo process, the Master Plan, and what can be expected in the coming years. I will be trying to attend.
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  #118  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2017, 2:54 PM
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It seems that Stryker's growth in new markets can't be stopped right now; the company just completed its acquisition of Canadian-based surgical imaging and reconstructive plastic surgery company NOVADAQ Technologies, Inc - for $700 million. Corporate headquarters for NOVADAQ is Mississauga, Ontario, with a US headquarters in Bonita Springs, Florida. Not clear if this will bring more jobs to the SW Michigan region in the long-term.

Quote:
Stryker completes $701M acquisition of Canadian surgical tech firm
By Al Jones, MLive
September 01, 2017

KALAMAZOO, MI - Stryker Corp. has completed its $701 million acquisition of surgical imaging innovator Novadaq Technologies Inc., of Canada. Novadaq is a leading developer of fluorescence imaging technology. It provides surgeons with visualizations of blood flow in vessels and into related tissues. The technology has uses in various kinds of medical procedures, including cardiac, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, plastic, microsurgical and reconstructive surgeries, according to Stryker. The acquisitions - for which Kalamazoo-based Stryker was expected to pay $11.75 for each share of Novadaq - was announced on June 19 with Stryker's Timothy J. Scannell, saying, "Novadaq's unique innovative technology complements Stryker's advanced imaging portfolio and expands our product offerings into open and plastic reconstructive surgery."

...
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  #119  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2017, 3:21 PM
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An update on the planned rehabilitation project for the former 30-acre Vicksburg / Lee Paper Mill Site. It sounds like a lot of the projected $50 million needed for the work might come from public (local, state, and federal) sources. Possible public funding sources cited by the developer in the article include, "the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the Michigan Land Bank... the Vicksburg Brownfield Authority's Local Brownfield Remediation Fund...[and]...a 20 percent federal tax credit as part of the National Register of Historic Places..."

The ambitious project is intended to include a craft beer and food production facility, a new brewery / restaurant, beer garden, event spaces, retail and office space, artists space, 42 apartments, a museum, and outdoor trails.

The potential for positive economic and environmental impacts that this mixed-use project will bring to the area are large, and I think it is a project with a solid plan, led by a committed developer with a personal connection to the village and to the property (having been a former employee at the mill). It just sounds like it is dependent on a lot of "ifs" and taxpayer dollars. I remain hopeful that it succeeds.

Quote:
$50M mixed-use development planned for shuttered paper mill
By Tom Haroldson | MLive
September 03, 2017

VICKSBURG, MI - The sprawling brick-and-steel complex on Highway Street known as the former Vicksburg paper mill got a visit from about 50 local, state and federal officials and village residents keen on seeing what it could become in the future. Chris Moore, owner of Paper City Development LLC and Old Stove Brewery in Seattle, led the tour Monday, Aug. 28 of what is now called The Mill, a proposed $50 million project that if successful will turn the hulking, dilapidated series of buildings into a regional draw and once again the village's largest employer. Leading the group through the maze of old paper plant buildings that have seen a better day, Moore said that if funding from a variety of sources comes through the first construction could begin next spring.

"We think the puzzle is pretty well solved now," Moore said, flanked by Congressman Fred Upton and project manager Jackie Koney as he explained his vision that began in 2014. "It's a $50 million project that will take a few players to carry out."

...



Image Source: Emily Monacelli | MLive
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  #120  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2017, 5:17 PM
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Originally Posted by deja vu View Post
An update on the planned rehabilitation project for the former 30-acre Vicksburg / Lee Paper Mill Site. It sounds like a lot of the projected $50 million needed for the work might come from public (local, state, and federal) sources. Possible public funding sources cited by the developer in the article include, "the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the Michigan Land Bank... the Vicksburg Brownfield Authority's Local Brownfield Remediation Fund...[and]...a 20 percent federal tax credit as part of the National Register of Historic Places..."

The ambitious project is intended to include a craft beer and food production facility, a new brewery / restaurant, beer garden, event spaces, retail and office space, artists space, 42 apartments, a museum, and outdoor trails.

The potential for positive economic and environmental impacts that this mixed-use project will bring to the area are large, and I think it is a project with a solid plan, led by a committed developer with a personal connection to the village and to the property (having been a former employee at the mill). It just sounds like it is dependent on a lot of "ifs" and taxpayer dollars. I remain hopeful that it succeeds.






Image Source: Emily Monacelli | MLive
Very cool project, it'll be interesting to watch how this development if completed changes the area.
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