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  #281  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2018, 3:32 AM
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So great that this is happening in Battle Creek, and starting to pick up the pace through the summer. I think this will turn out very well and be a huge success / improvement to BC's downtown.

Quote:
Move in to apartments in Battle Creek's tallest building next year
Malachi Barrett | MLive
June 5, 2018

BATTLE CREEK, MI -- Residents can move in to downtown Battle Creek's tallest building soon, as redevelopment of the nearly 90-year-old building moves forward. A revitalized Heritage Tower will bring new jobs, retail space, market rate apartments and executive penthouse units to downtown Battle Creek in 2019...
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  #282  
Old Posted Jun 7, 2018, 10:54 PM
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^Thats fantastic news! I had no idea. Its been several years. Downtown was overwhelmingly dead last time I visited. Im glad activity is returning, although I much liked the zombie apocalypse atmosphere
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  #283  
Old Posted Jun 8, 2018, 9:05 AM
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I really hope they can get this rezoning done. Looking at aerials, this is such a strange mix of uses in this part of town, and we need to see some way better site plans than the stuff currently there. This sounds like this would allow for that.

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Kalamazoo considers rezoning for hotel expansions along I-94

By Malachi Barrett, MLive.com

June 7, 2018

KALAMAZOO, MI -- An area near I-94 on Kalamazoo's east side could be rezoned to allow hotels to expand and match the city's master plan.

Thursday, the Planning Commission recommended rezoning 68-acres between Sprinkle Road and Gembrit Circle on the east edge of the Milwood neighborhood. The City Commission still needs to vote on the final approval.

If approved, zoning districts would change from manufacturing to commercial, allowing more residential uses and permitting motels, hotels and inns. Vice Chair Gregory Milliken said the rezoning will create a better environment for economic development in the area.
Quote:
Five hotels exist in the rezoning area: Clarion Hotel, Baymont Inn, Four Points by Sheraton, Holiday Inn Express and Red Roof Inn.

They are considered conforming uses in the current M-1 zone, which means the hotels can't expand without a variance. No new hotels can be built without a variance granted by the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Senior Development Planner Rob Bauckham said the hotel owners don't have immediate plans for expansion.
Even by sprawl standards the orientation of the buildings on their sites, here, look to be poorly place and undertilize their large parcels. Do you know whether this was originally zoned for industrial usage, or if the hotels were developed first? I'm just trying to figure out how you get hotels in the middle of an industrial district. It seems like either the hotels should have never been allowed or that it shouldn't have even been zoned for industry.
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  #284  
Old Posted Jun 8, 2018, 8:54 PM
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Originally Posted by The Lurker View Post
^Thats fantastic news! I had no idea. Its been several years. Downtown was overwhelmingly dead last time I visited. Im glad activity is returning, although I much liked the zombie apocalypse atmosphere
Yes! Slowly but surely, Battle Creek is trying to rebuild a robust downtown core. It has some assets that I personally think Kalamazoo should be jealous of (like two gorgeous Art Deco towers, nice streetscaping, and better connections to a less industrialized river). Might need to revise this thread title to be KALAMAZOO / PORTAGE / BATTLE CREEK if it keeps up. I guess I could post BC updates in the general WEST MICHIGAN developments thread too, but I just associate it more with Kalamazoo.

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Originally Posted by LMich View Post
I really hope they can get this rezoning done. Looking at aerials, this is such a strange mix of uses in this part of town, and we need to see some way better site plans than the stuff currently there. This sounds like this would allow for that.

Even by sprawl standards the orientation of the buildings on their sites, here, look to be poorly place and undertilize their large parcels. Do you know whether this was originally zoned for industrial usage, or if the hotels were developed first? I'm just trying to figure out how you get hotels in the middle of an industrial district. It seems like either the hotels should have never been allowed or that it shouldn't have even been zoned for industry.
Beat me to the post! It is very odd around there. Honestly, the whole stretch of Sprinkle Road from Kilgore to E Main has always felt bizarre to me. It has a very unplanned feel. Not quite city, not quite suburb, and a little rural thrown in. It's a hot mess. Just north of E Michigan Ave, for example, Consumers Concrete has a massive operation right across from single family residential. There are some massive greenhouses too, arrayed along River Street. Random traffic improvements like roundabouts and raised medians make it all feel even more haphazard. I am pretty sure that the area with the hotels was mostly industrial first, and then the hotels starting popping up, variance by variance, due to the high traffic counts and proximity to I-94, the airport, Pfizer Stryker, etc. I know at least some of them cater to visiting, extended-stay business folk.

In other semi-zoning-related news, the City formally approved the 2-block "neighborhood enterprise zone" downtown. This will hopefully kick start planned developments within this boundary (there are at least 2 planned mixed-use projects with affordable housing conponent).

Quote:
Kalamazoo approves tax abatement zone on downtown edge
By Malachi Barrett | MLive
June 07, 2018

KALAMAZOO, MI -- Developers can now apply for a 12-year tax abatement in an area south of downtown Kalamazoo. Monday, the City Commission created a "neighborhood enterprise zone" in a two-block area south of City Hall. Developments in the zone are eligible to have their taxes halved for nine years and reduced by 10 percent, 5 percent and 2.5 percent for another three years. The area is between South Park and Burdick streets and West Lovell and Cedar streets in the Vine neighborhood. Two developments are already planned: A $24.2 million mixed-use office and apartment building and another mixed-use project at a former public safety training facility. Local leaders hope the abatement will encourage new affordable housing projects to alleviate what city officials say is a 3,000 to 5,000 unit shortage...
If there really is that big of a shortage, they are going to need more than 2 blocks of enterprise zone.
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  #285  
Old Posted Jun 9, 2018, 1:46 PM
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Here are a few photos from building tours on 5/30/18 of (a) Portage Northern Middle School and (b) Portage Central Natatorium. The MS is scheduled for completion next fall; the natatorium is close to complete and will open later this summer.

Portage Northern Middle School Construction Progress, 5/30/2018
























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  #286  
Old Posted Jun 9, 2018, 1:49 PM
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Portage Central Natatorium Construction Progress, 5/30/2018
























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  #287  
Old Posted Jun 11, 2018, 7:23 AM
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Originally Posted by deja vu View Post
Beat me to the post! It is very odd around there. Honestly, the whole stretch of Sprinkle Road from Kilgore to E Main has always felt bizarre to me. It has a very unplanned feel. Not quite city, not quite suburb, and a little rural thrown in. It's a hot mess. Just north of E Michigan Ave, for example, Consumers Concrete has a massive operation right across from single family residential. There are some massive greenhouses too, arrayed along River Street. Random traffic improvements like roundabouts and raised medians make it all feel even more haphazard. I am pretty sure that the area with the hotels was mostly industrial first, and then the hotels starting popping up, variance by variance, due to the high traffic counts and proximity to I-94, the airport, Pfizer Stryker, etc. I know at least some of them cater to visiting, extended-stay business folk.

In other semi-zoning-related news, the City formally approved the 2-block "neighborhood enterprise zone" downtown. This will hopefully kick start planned developments within this boundary (there are at least 2 planned mixed-use projects with affordable housing conponent).

If there really is that big of a shortage, they are going to need more than 2 blocks of enterprise zone.
That's a really interesting story about how that area formed, and a perfect example of the abuse of the variance process. Variances are supposed to be just that, to allow for variances. You know, when a project needs a little more height, here, for a less stringent front yard requirement there. If you start allowing them to cover fundamentally different changes in uses and then do it again and again and again, that's how you get that mess of development down there, and why the rezoning should have happened a long time ago, quite frankly. lol

Speaking of zoning, what's the land zoned within this new south-of-downtown enterprise zone?
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  #288  
Old Posted Jun 12, 2018, 2:02 AM
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Speaking of zoning, what's the land zoned within this new south-of-downtown enterprise zone?
It's currently Zoned CC, which is Community Commercial. Just north (across Lovell) it is CCBD (Central Business District). These are similar zones, and both allow multi-unit dwellings if certain conditions are met.

And that's just a guess on my part regarding the variances for the many hotels that have popped up on the city's southeast side. But it is all zoned M-1 and M-2, which is manufacturing. Under the zoning code, hotels in M-1 and M-2 are "Conforming Use", meaning that the use may not be established after October 18, 2005, but if the use was legally established and in existence on / before that date, it may continue to exist as a legal conforming use. I think some of those hotels are newer than 13 years old.
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  #289  
Old Posted Jun 12, 2018, 2:31 AM
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Another potential big development in Portage by Stryker may break ground this fall, with ample tax credits.

Quote:
Stryker seeks tax cuts for $92M expansion at Portage medical division
Malachi Barrett | MLive
June 11, 2018

PORTAGE, MI -- Stryker Corporation is seeking a 12-year tax abatement for a $92 million expansion expected to add 260 new jobs by 2025. The Portage City Council will hold a June 26 public hearing to consider an industrial facilities exemption that would cut property taxes in half. Stryker Corporation plans to add parking and construct a 253,000-square-foot addition to the south side of an existing facility at 3800 E. Centre Ave.cPortage City Manager Larry Shaffer said the economic impact will be "stupendous."...
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  #290  
Old Posted Jun 17, 2018, 2:21 AM
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Wow, I thought this ship sailed a looong time ago. Apparently the idea of a downtown arena is being resurrected by some of the local powers that be.

Quote:
Backers of a new downtown events center say facility could be Kalamazoo's crown jewel
Rachel Glaser | WWMT
June 15, 2018

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Southwest Michigan First is behind the new push to build an arena in downtown Kalamazoo, several years after plans hit a standstill. In hopes of resurrecting the dream of a downtown Kalamazoo arena, Southwest Michigan First has renewed efforts to build $85 million facility with capacity to seat up to 9,000 people in an arena that could generate millions of dollars in annual tourism spending. More than just an arena, the proposed event center would be the crown jewel that turns downtown Kalamazoo into a destination, according to Ron Kitchens, the chief executive officer of Southwest Michigan First...
If it were to happen, I would want to see it downtown, far-better integrated into the "urban scene" a bit more than if it were near WMU or Heritage Guitar.
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  #291  
Old Posted Jun 17, 2018, 4:25 PM
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Neat to see this 44 year old mural being restored, and by the original artist, no less. Colleen Rockey, A WMU alum who originally painted the mural on a Corporation Alley wall facing the Comerica Building of the in 1974 (the same year that she graduated college), is restoring the mural at her own expense. The below image shows the mural restoration in progress, with The Exchange rising in the background.


Source: PBS / Twitter
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  #292  
Old Posted Jun 19, 2018, 1:51 PM
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Originally Posted by deja vu View Post
Wow, I thought this ship sailed a looong time ago. Apparently the idea of a downtown arena is being resurrected by some of the local powers that be.

If it were to happen, I would want to see it downtown, far-better integrated into the "urban scene" a bit more than if it were near WMU or Heritage Guitar.
What what this do to Wings Event Center? It seems like Kalamazoo has a similar problem to Lansing in that they are cities in their own right apart from their university, but the universities are so large relative to the city and just close enough to the city center that it's always a debate over whether there is a need for a seperate arena. So many of Lansing's cultural amenities are actually MSU-based. Like, Lansing got lucky in that MSU never built a big multi-purpose convention center, because it wouldn't have even had that to itself.

BTW, it looks like MLive finally picked up on the the new downtown apartment building:

$1.1M land deal will bring 135 apartment units to downtown Kalamazoo

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  #293  
Old Posted Yesterday, 3:41 AM
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What what this do to Wings Event Center? It seems like Kalamazoo has a similar problem to Lansing in that they are cities in their own right apart from their university, but the universities are so large relative to the city and just close enough to the city center that it's always a debate over whether there is a need for a seperate arena. So many of Lansing's cultural amenities are actually MSU-based. Like, Lansing got lucky in that MSU never built a big multi-purpose convention center, because it wouldn't have even had that to itself.
Good question / points. The article doesn't say much and it still sounds very speculative. In addition to Wings, The Expo Center would probably falter too if an arena were built in the city with the intent / capacity to host convention-style expo events. I don't know that Kzoo should try to compete with GR / Van Andel arena for concerts and such. The data from studies done in 2008-2009 are not very confidence-inspiring, either. I just don't see it happening, the demand for it doesn't seem to be there.
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  #294  
Old Posted Yesterday, 12:56 PM
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Well, 251 E Lovell is history, folks. All that remains is the pile of detritus that fills what was the basement up to about street level, and they have been clearing it pretty fast.

I heard from someone in the know that Bronson Methodist Hospital will be making an announcement in the not-too-distant future about a downtown project. No more detail than that though, so I am not sure the scale of it, or if it would be for this site, or possibly the former Gazette Building, or maybe even their vast surface parking lot bounded by E Lovell, Portage St, E Walnut, and Jasper St.

Wouldn't it be cool to see this underutilized space developed into a mixed-use community anchored by a mix of health services, retail, and residential?




In other silliness (and not news at all, by any stretch of the imagination) Kalamazoo has successfully landed a spot as a finalist in two categories (a) one of the top 50 worst American cities to live in, and (b) one of the top ten nicest cities in America. These 'lists' are by 24/7wallst.com and Readers Digest, respectively. S0 you know that they're credible, right?

Pro's that were cited include lots of local philanthropy, like the Kalamazoo Promise, and non-profit community involvement. Con's cited include high poverty and crime rates and bad air quality.

Last edited by deja vu; Yesterday at 1:11 PM.
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