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  #341  
Old Posted Oct 10, 2018, 2:45 AM
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We have form work beginning at 180 E Water St. They're not quite done with the piles yet, but we should be seeing foundations poured very soon. Photos from yesterday.





A quick shot of the re-imagined Bates Alley. I took this photo last Friday morning, as they were putting the finishing touches on it for Art Hop. In truth I'm not too crazy about it, as it feels slapped together. I think it's an improvement over what was there before, but hope it develops more personality and survives over time.



Here's a 'before' shot, from the other end of the street -


Work on the S. Rose St. project is moving along too. I need to get photos.
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  #342  
Old Posted Oct 10, 2018, 9:26 AM
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180 East Water is the Catalyst development, right?



I didn't recognize the name. BTW, from which direction will this most be visible on the skyline?
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  #343  
Old Posted Oct 10, 2018, 12:56 PM
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180 East Water is the Catalyst development, right?

I didn't recognize the name. BTW, from which direction will this most be visible on the skyline?
Correct. I'm trying to train my brain to refer to it as this, after knowing it as just the "Catalyst Development" for a while. The best angle on this will be looking from the north-northeast, toward the south-southwest (basically from the Arcadia Creek Festival Place). From this vantage point, you will see this building, The Exchange, The Radisson, and the 5/3 Bank (former American National Bank) Building. Together, I think this composition of the downtown is most impressive. Far more flattering than the view of downtown when heading east along Michigan Ave. From that perspective, the city looks very linear / one dimensional. From the south, buildings like the 6-story Haymarket will mostly obscure its view. But that's OK in my opinion, because Kalamazoo needs to push outward with some better density from its tiny core.

This is almost the view I'm referring to. The particular angle of this photo is almost exactly that of the rendering above. Walk across Water Street and view it a little more from the north and I think it will be impressive.
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  #344  
Old Posted Oct 14, 2018, 4:20 PM
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What are the plans if any for more taller buildings in the city? Seems like it’s space for them and it would definitely bring people downtown. Also why hasn’t more been built? Kalamazoo looks and feels different with the Exchange being built.
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  #345  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2018, 12:31 AM
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What are the plans if any for more taller buildings in the city? Seems like it’s space for them and it would definitely bring people downtown. Also why hasn’t more been built? Kalamazoo looks and feels different with the Exchange being built.
Unfortunately, there's nothing else on my radar that's greater than 7 stories (The Catalyst development that recently broke ground). I agree there's certainly the space for more taller buildings, and the need for greater density downtown. I think Kalamazoo has been trying to put on its big kid pants, and I hope it is successful. A few more 15-20 story towers would be a dream. But I don't expect to see something on the scale of The Exchange for a long time. I think the apparent slow pace is the result of a variety of factors.

1. - The local market - demand for office space and housing is pretty high right now, but it's all relative. The addition of The Exchange and The Catalyst development alone will "flood" the downtown with new, class-A office space, and to a lesser extent, market-rate housing. I think developers are wary to finance much more until they see the market react to this extra real estate, and maybe wait until after the next recession.

2. - Lack of Outside Investors - Most of the development is by developers based right in Kalamazoo, or maybe Grand Rapids. They usually move very slowly and methodically, handling only 1 or two sizable projects every few years. Outside investors have not shown interest in Kalamazoo on a large scale lately. Perhaps they are not willing to take on risk in an unknown market in a smaller-sized, midwest city?

3. - Nature of Local industry - I think a lot of businesses that are economically important to the area locate further south, in Portage, where they can sprawl. There's a big manufacturing presence here, and those operations demand land that is cheap, easily developable, and business-friendly. Portage wins out over Kalamazoo in most cases on this front.

4. - Infrastructure - The city has some deficiencies when it comes to roads, public transit, parking, utilities, and downtown amenities. It's making progress on perhaps all of these (except roads, in my opinion).

5. - Poverty - Last but not least, the poverty rate for Kalamazoo is abysmal. It's around 32 - 33% (source). More than double the rate at the state level, and almost 3 times the national rate. It's hard to attract impressive development to a city where 1/3 of it's inhabitants are considered poor. The homelessness in Kalamazoo is also a big issue. The number is between 300 and 400, depending on where you get the data. Doesn't seem like a lot, but in a city of around 75,000, that's quite a lot. I also read recently that Kalamazoo Public Schools had the highest percentage of homeless or transient students of any district in the state - I think it was 12%! So 1 in almost every 8 kids doesn't have a permanent home.

Last edited by deja vu; Oct 17, 2018 at 3:04 AM.
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  #346  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2018, 4:20 AM
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Originally Posted by deja vu View Post
Unfortunately, there's nothing else on my radar that's greater than 7 stories (The Catalyst development that recently broke ground). I agree there's certainly the space for more taller buildings, and the need for greater density downtown. I think Kalamazoo has been trying to put on it's big kid pants and I hope it is successful. A few more 15-20 story towers would be a dream. But I don't expect to see something on the scale of The Exchange for a long time. I think the apparent slow pace is the result of a variety of factors.

1. - The local market - demand for office space and housing is pretty high right now, but it's all relative. The addition of The Exchange and The Catalyst development alone will "flood" the downtown with new, class-A office space, and to a lesser extent, market-rate housing. I think developers are wary to finance much more until they see the market react to this extra real estate, and maybe wait until after the next recession.

2. - Lack of Outside Investors - Most of the development is by developers based right in Kalamazoo, or maybe Grand Rapids. They usually move very slowly and methodically, handling only 1 or two sizable projects every few years. Outside investors have not shown interest in Kalamazoo on a large scale lately. Perhaps they are not willing to take on risk in an unknown market in a smaller-sized, midwest city?

3. - Nature of Local industry - I think a lot of businesses that are economically important to the area locate further south, in Portage, where they can sprawl. There's a big manufacturing presence here, and those operations demand land that is cheap, easily developable, and business-friendly. Portage wins out over Kalamazoo in most cases on this front.

4. - Infrastructure - The city has some deficiencies when it comes to roads, public transit, parking, utilities, and downtown amenities. It's making progress on perhaps all of these (except roads, in my opinion).

5. - Poverty - Last but not least, the poverty rate for Kalamazoo is abysmal. It's around 32 - 33% (source). More than double the rate at the state level, and almost 3 times the national rate. It's hard to attract impressive development to a city where 1/3 of it's inhabitants are considered poor. The homelessness in Kalamazoo is also a big issue. The number is between 300 and 400, depending on where you get the data. Doesn't seem like a lot, but in a city of around 75,000, that's quite a lot. I also read recently that Kalamazoo Public Schools had the highest percentage of homeless or transient students of any district in the state - I think it was 12%! So 1 in almost every 8 kids doesn't have a permanent home.
Yea you are right on on those points for sure. What ever happened to that 20 story building that was being proposed for downtown back in 2013? Pretty sure that it didn't gain enough funds for it.
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  #347  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2018, 3:03 AM
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Yea you are right on on those points for sure. What ever happened to that 20 story building that was being proposed for downtown back in 2013? Pretty sure that it didn't gain enough funds for it.
If we're thinking of the same thing, I think that proposal was pitched after he (Ryan Reedy) couldn't get the funding lined up. I have no idea what Reedy Group has been up to these days. They went whole hog on that "Entertainment District" development about a decade ago (which is really little more than 3 buildings and an outdoor stage), and ever since, it's been...nothing.



Somewhat related to the previous points, the City is making an effort to increase the cash flow to support downtown improvements. Or at least experimenting with different ideas. At Monday night's monthly meeting, the Commission voted to approve the creation of a new Downtown Economic Growth Authority (DEGA) to replace the former DDA. This new authority will oversee the allocation of funds that will be captured from a new, larger TIF (Tax Increment Financing) overlay district. In short, the funds grabbed with the old TIF district have dwindled from millions to a few hundred thousand dollars since 2008. Under this new plan, more businesses will fall within the boundaries of the district, but business owners won't pay a cent more, meaning more local tax revenue will be allocated directly to downtown improvements.

I think it is a good move, and we'll see if it pays off.

Quote:
Kalamazoo passes taxing tool for downtown development
By Kayla Miller | MLive
October 15, 2018

KALAMAZOO, MI -- A new tool intended to collect taxes for development of Kalamazoo's downtown was approved Monday. The Kalamazoo Downtown Economic Growth Authority was approved as a replacement to the former tax collection mechanism, Monday, Oct. 15 by the Kalamazoo City Commission. Kalamazoo's Downtown Development Authority uses tax increment financing (TIF) to reinvest taxes into a specific part of the city. DEGA will replace this mechanism, which is no longer a sustainable source of revenue, according to the recommendation approved by commissioners...
Also somewhat related, I noticed from other news sources covering this story that Downtown Kalamazoo Inc. seems to be in the process of quietly rebranding itself as Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership. At least, I think they are...it's the same people involved, but a new website. The old website seems to have dissapeared in the past few days...I don't really know why they had a name change, although it does sound more like a non-profit now. The new website has some additional info on the proposed (now adopted) DEGA. Scroll to the bottom of the webpage, if interested.

https://www.downtownkalamazoo.org/about-dki
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  #348  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2018, 1:12 PM
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Originally Posted by deja vu View Post
Somewhat related to the previous points, the City is making an effort to increase the cash flow to support downtown improvements. Or at least experimenting with different ideas. At Monday night's monthly meeting, the Commission voted to approve the creation of a new Downtown Economic Growth Authority (DEGA) to replace the former DDA. This new authority will oversee the allocation of funds that will be captured from a new, larger TIF (Tax Increment Financing) overlay district. In short, the funds grabbed with the old TIF district have dwindled from millions to a few hundred thousand dollars since 2008. Under this new plan, more businesses will fall within the boundaries of the district, but business owners won't pay a cent more, meaning more local tax revenue will be allocated directly to downtown improvements.

I think it is a good move, and we'll see if it pays off.

Also somewhat related, I noticed from other news sources covering this story that Downtown Kalamazoo Inc. seems to be in the process of quietly rebranding itself as Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership. At least, I think they are...it's the same people involved, but a new website. The old website seems to have dissapeared in the past few days...I don't really know why they had a name change, although it does sound more like a non-profit now. The new website has some additional info on the proposed (now adopted) DEGA. Scroll to the bottom of the webpage, if interested.

https://www.downtownkalamazoo.org/about-dki
This whole thing confuses me the more I read. Most articles done on this seem to imply that this is more than an expansion of the DDA boundaries; that there is a change on the mechanism of funding that allows for more state dollars to be leveraged. In fact, the DEGA FAQ says this:

Quote:
The new Downtown Economic Growth Authority is an innovative update to the DDA TIF funding model, with an ability to leverage additional state matching dollars for investments in downtown. The new authority will reset the funding base according to today’s downtown landscape, allowing for continued investment in locally determined economic development priorities that will keep the positive momentum growing.
Quote:
The Downtown Economic Growth Authority is a continuation of the DDA TIF funding model, with an ability to leverage additional state dollars for investments in downtown. The new authority will realign the funding model for future investments in locally deter mined economic development priorities.
It may just be development-ese/development jargon, but it sures does seem to imply that the state legislation to create the DEGAs are different from the legislation that creates DDAs. What I'm not clear on is what the benefit of the DEGA is over the DDA. More than that, and even more confusingly, the DDA isn't going to disappear:

Quote:
The DDA will work in partnership with the new Downtown Economic Growth Authority, coordinating strategic investments in Downtown. The DDA TIF district will be dissolved, but the DDA will continue its current responsibilities, which include management of the City’s Downtown parking system and oversight of investments through an existing levy Downtown.
Seems really complicated or rather they just didn't explain it how they needed to. I'm also still a bit unsure why the old Upjohn/Pfizer lands (Zoetis) were carved out of the district, unless Zoetis lobbied to be taken out. It seems to me that this would be a major contributor to the TIF as that land continues to be developed. I just looked up 333 Portage; the taxable value of the property is something like $25 million. Looking at the taxes they've paid in 2017, it was nearly $1.7 million. Why Zoetis isn't in this new district is beyond me.
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Last edited by LMich; Oct 17, 2018 at 1:34 PM.
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  #349  
Old Posted Oct 18, 2018, 2:06 AM
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^Admittedly, the whole setup is confusing to me too (and also apparently to the MLive reporter who tried to explain it). And I don't know how / why Zoetis gets a free pass, but they must have a deal or understanding worked out. Time will tell if any of this makes a difference. Kalamazoo is great at ratifying ideas; it's the follow-through and lasting results that seem to often be lacking.
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  #350  
Old Posted Oct 19, 2018, 9:54 PM
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I put these on the dedicated thread but will include them here too. The Exchange is making its mark on the skyline.





When it is overcast, like today, the arctic blue glass comes across as almost black - I think it looks really good.



They have poured the eastern portion of the 15th floor and this thing will be topped out in a few more weeks. Check back on the dedicated thread for this building soon, for more photos that I will post from a recent building tour.

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  #351  
Old Posted Oct 19, 2018, 10:39 PM
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Here's 180 E Water St - aka the Catalyst Development - from the past few days (the filter on my camera was on a weird setting for the first few) -


















Last edited by deja vu; Oct 24, 2018 at 3:11 AM.
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  #352  
Old Posted Oct 20, 2018, 6:34 PM
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Here's the progress at S Rose and E Lovell (that 4 story, mixed-use / affordable housing development), from yesterday. It's a big hole in ground, there will be a level of below-grade parking.







The AT&T building is UGGGLY! I wish they would do something interesting to freshen it up. Replace the fins or something.


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  #353  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2018, 2:25 AM
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AT&T Building

Wow! That might be the ugliest building I've ever seen! Stunningly nasty!
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  #354  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2018, 4:39 AM
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Wow! That might be the ugliest building I've ever seen! Stunningly nasty!
Here it is, in all it's fugliness. The one across the street ain't much better (also AT&T).
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  #355  
Old Posted Oct 24, 2018, 12:43 AM
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It's always great when you have a slew of major projects going up all at once.

BTW, always had a question about the amount of parking in The Exchange. Was it overbuilt to attract some of the parking demand of surrounding properties, or was it just for the uses above it? Also, is it a private garage? Will the city be leasing any of the spots? I've been trying to figure out the economics of the project, whether it was built as a parking garage and they decided to add mixed uses above it, or whether it was built at a mixed use development and then they saw the ability to bring in more money with an admittedly oversized garage?
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  #356  
Old Posted Oct 24, 2018, 2:06 AM
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I was just thinking the same exact thing...I hadn’t realized how many floors were parking. The parking thing in Michigan is incredible.
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  #357  
Old Posted Oct 24, 2018, 3:04 AM
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I don't know it for a fact, but I'm going to guess that parking in The Exchange will mostly be for private use / reserved spaces. I think it's going to be about 300 parking spaces total (looks like way more, but remember that this is a very broad yet fairly skinny structure). There's somewhere around 130 apartments and 60,000 SF of leasable office / retail space. Assume 1 dedicated parking space per each studio / 1 BR unit, 2 spaces per each 2 BR unit, maybe 100 spaces for the commercial space (fully leased), and some visitor parking / flex space, it quickly gets you close to the 300 mark. Perhaps a small portion of the parking will be for public use during the day, and maybe more after business hours? There is still an incredible amount of public parking spaces available within structures in this city, and I think most of them are underutilized. Folks complain about the parking here, but it is nowhere near as dire as Grand Rapids.

This was always intended to be a mixed-use structure with an integrated parking component from the get-go. I heard from the owner / developer that for the economics of the building to work, they had to add more commercial and residential, and therefore the extra parking to support it, which is why this grew from an 8 story proposal to a 12 story to the final 15.

One bummer in my opinion is that apparently the idea for a restaurant on the top floor has been scrapped due to the logistics of getting things like a grease trap installed and food delivery / waste. So it will just be more leasable office space.

I do recall that a chunk of the parking included in the Catalyst Development will be public.
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  #358  
Old Posted Oct 24, 2018, 3:22 AM
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Interesting. Does the downtown zoning district have any parking requirements? I know here in Lansing while developers usually build some parking with their downtown projects, the downtown zoning district is actually exempt from parking minimums. In a lot of cases, residential properties owners end up leasing spaces in the public garages and lots.
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  #359  
Old Posted Oct 26, 2018, 3:43 AM
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Yes, there is a "Parking Exempt District" in Kalamazoo too. It roughly correlates with the CCBD (Commercial Central Business district) zone.


Source: Kalamazoo Zoning Ordinance
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  #360  
Old Posted Oct 26, 2018, 6:43 PM
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I mentioned I would get around to posting a bunch of pictures from a building tour of The Exchange that I got to go on last week. Those are now all posted on that seperate thread, here (starts with post #53). A few highlights -





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