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  #141  
Old Posted Oct 22, 2017, 5:55 AM
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Yeah, where I live, you get bonus density, height and site plan variances that normally wouldn't be allowed for preserving green and natural space, low-impact (green) development, etc... Not sure if this township has such zoning options, but more likely it's WMU being progressive. Lansing has an eerily very similar concept to WMU's technological park with its University Corporate Research Park which is used for laboratory and office space for MSU.

http://www.msufoundation.org/researchpark/
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  #142  
Old Posted Oct 22, 2017, 1:55 PM
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Originally Posted by LMich View Post
Is the land at the northeast corner of Drake and Parkview across the street developable or is it a part of the Asylum Lake Preserve?
My understanding is that there will be no development on the NE side of Drake & Parkview. That area is part of the Preserve and is currently a passive recreation space with some trails in grassy meadows.

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Originally Posted by LMich View Post
Also, on that site plan, are the proposed buildings the white areas?
That's a good question and I'm not sure of the answer. I thought it was just showing what was old orchard area (the green hatch) versus less wooded land. I imagine they have to consider maximum impervious coverage in doing the site planning, but I don't think they know exactly the size / quantity of buildings yet - they must just be working with maximum / worst-case scenario for design of the storm system, etc.

Docta Love is right that the area to the north will be a buffer zone - and at least some of that land is wetlands. After several public comment sessions last year, the design team, led by Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber / FTC&H and O'Boyle, Cowell, Blalock, & Associates / OCBA (say that ten times fast) identified that environmental sustainability will be a top priority. Both have done work with the University in the past (including BTR Park Phase 1) and both know the ins and outs of local land development procedures. From a separate MLive article (which I paraphrase below), some of the priorities discussed include:
  • Create pedestrian- and bike-friendly connections
  • Preserve existing trees
  • Require new buildings to achieve LEED standards
  • Keep existing bee hives on-site
  • Protect the visual impact of the Preserve
  • Preserve any historical artifacts found at the site
  • Manage storm water runoff from the site with adversely impacting the Preserve
Many of these would be required by local zoning ordinances anyway, but by holding these public sessions, it did get more of the public on board with the plan. Between this project, the recently-rebuilt Stadium Dr / US-131 interchange, and all of the crap at The Corner @ Drake project, this whole sector of the City has changed dramatically in a few short years (not always for the better, imo). The BTR Park expansion is positive though; it is projected to bring several hundred new high-tech jobs to the area and tens of millions in new technology investment.
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  #143  
Old Posted Oct 22, 2017, 2:15 PM
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I've been to the BTR Park site a few times but never really took any photos. Here's a few from OCBA and FTC&H's websites, for the Phase 1 work, which should give a sense of what Phase 2 will look like. I think they were largely successful in preserving a lot of the natural elements and creating outdoor spaces that don't feel too contrived.

Aerial View - College of Engineering and Applied Sciences nearing completion:

Image Source: FTC&H

Pedestrian walkway that goes under Campus Drive:

Image Source: FTC&H

Walking Trail - WMED Building in Background:

Image Source: FTC&H

Central Pond:

Image Source: OCBA

Same pond in winter:

Image Source: OCBA

College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at night:

https://979kaw-sn3301.files.1drv.com...&cropmode=none
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  #144  
Old Posted Oct 22, 2017, 7:28 PM
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Some 'suburban' construction updates from today - all within the City of Portage.

The new Arbor Financial Credit Union is simple but looks alright with its full-height masonry and cultured stone:



HomeGoods Inc. infill project is moving along, adjacent to Earth Fare:



Pfizer's new cold storage warehouse. I appreciate that they are matching the historic yellow and grey masonry of the original structures. However, it means
that the masons have been laying bricks for months now:







Portage Central High School's new natatorium:







These next three are of McCamley Field, the football stadium at Portage Central that will soon be demolished after almost 60 years of history and tradition.
Both High Schools will be getting new football stadiums soon:







The last football game to be played in this venue was on Friday, 10/20, and was complete with military plane flyovers:


Image Source: MLive

Portage Northern Middle School, where block is being laid:






Trade Centre III, which from the exterior, looks nearly complete:



Finally, several photos from the Stryker Corporate Campus site, which is the most substantial project that has happened in Portage in a while. Site work
and foundations on the main building have really moved along:



















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  #145  
Old Posted Oct 23, 2017, 4:05 AM
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Love seeing Pfizer putting masonry on a facility like that. Unless it's in an areas building/zoning code, it's like pulling teeth to get anything other than sheet metal or concrete siding for an industrial buildings, these days. It's particularly nice to see this in a suburb, which aren't usually know for their high design standards.
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  #146  
Old Posted Oct 24, 2017, 6:32 PM
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Originally Posted by LMich View Post
Love seeing Pfizer putting masonry on a facility like that. Unless it's in an areas building/zoning code, it's like pulling teeth to get anything other than sheet metal or concrete siding for an industrial buildings, these days. It's particularly nice to see this in a suburb, which aren't usually know for their high design standards.
Agreed. It could have been done much more cheaply. Thankfully, it wasn't.
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  #147  
Old Posted Oct 25, 2017, 1:24 AM
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PS 383 LLC's redevelopment of 381 and 383 South Pitcher Street is moving along. I mentioned this a long while back in post #17. The company is an affiliate of PlazaCorp; they are spending about $2 million to decontaminate this brownfield site and lease it to several tenants. Here's the first photo I've bothered taking of it, just because the construction lights caught my eye driving home. Portage Creek is 'raging' in the foreground, with all of the rain we've been getting:



Also went past the new AMC - I'm glad to see the blue and yellow colored panels are gone, replaced entirely by red. Not sure if they replaced them, or just painted them (more likely). It's a small change that I think makes a big difference. The new signage doesn't look too bad either.

Before:


After:

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  #148  
Old Posted Nov 2, 2017, 4:31 PM
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With little advance notice, the new AMC Theatre officially opens tonight, 11/2/17, premiering a rather dumb looking movie. The interior photos on MLive look pretty good though:

Quote:
AMC Theatres opens 10-screen multiplex in downtown Kalamazoo
By Al Jones | MLive
November 2, 2017

KALAMAZOO, MI - AMC Kalamazoo 10 was set to open Thursday evening in downtown Kalamazoo. The 10-screen multiplex was to open on Nov. 2, with tickets going on sale for the 7 p.m. premier of the Marvel Studios movie Thor: Ragnarok. The opening at 180 Portage St. (the corner of Portage and South streets) is a bit of a surprise as Kansas City-based AMC, the nation's largest movie theater operator, had earlier slated the opening for mid-November...
And the new roundabout at Harrison / Gull / Ransom is scheduled to open to traffic tomorrow, 11/3/17. Folks can preview it / walk it today:

Quote:
Public has chance to see Harrison Street roundabout before it opens
By Al Jones | MLive
November 1, 2017

KALAMAZOO, MI -- With construction work on the Harrison Street/Gull Road roundabout all but completed, city officials are offering people the opportunity to see it before they drive it. City of Kalamazoo Economic Development staff are inviting residents to a "Walk Around the Roundabout," the circular intersection of Gull Road, Ransom Street and Harrison Street, just north of downtown Kalamazoo...
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  #149  
Old Posted Nov 3, 2017, 4:31 AM
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That "rather dumb-looking movie" is going to make a sh%t-ton of money. The Marvel franchise of movies is the highest-grossing franchise of all time. This was a really smart idea on AMC's part.
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  #150  
Old Posted Nov 3, 2017, 6:59 PM
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That "rather dumb-looking movie" is going to make a sh%t-ton of money. The Marvel franchise of movies is the highest-grossing franchise of all time. This was a really smart idea on AMC's part.
Yeah, I know you're right... it's getting pretty good reviews and already pulled in almost $15 million Thursday night. I'm just over the whole super-hero movie craze.

When I drove past the theatre around 10pm last night it looked almost empty. I don't think it was a very well publicized grand opening, which might have something to do with it. Also, many locals are still so embittered about the loss of Alamo and have claimed that they will forever boycott AMC. I hope it does do well though - a thriving downtown theater is better than a large empty building. I will check it out eventually, just not for Thor.
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  #151  
Old Posted Nov 4, 2017, 2:50 AM
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The City is working on plans to rezone several areas - 54 acres in total - to promote mixed-use development and greater density. In general, I think this is on the right track, although some rezoning may happen sooner than other rezoning. There is a lot of Nimbyism in the City that could potentially slow the process down, but I think it will happen, eventually. Perhaps most interesting is the plan to rezone the 37-acre Mayors' Riverfront Park, from manufacturing to commercial / mixed-use. That motion actually already passed 6 to 1, according to the below article. This means that commercial / residential development will become possible around Stryker Field, near the river, opening all sorts of possibilities. Flooding in the area is a concern, but that can be mitigated with good design practices. Lansing's "The Outfield" Apartments comes to mind, if only the demand were there...

Quote:

Neighborhood rezoning could promote new mixed-use development

By Malachi Barrett | MLive
November 3, 2017
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  #152  
Old Posted Nov 4, 2017, 3:59 PM
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Sometimes a roundabout isn't just a roundabout...

The Harrison / Ransom / Gull roundabout officially opened to traffic yesterday, 11/3. It should alleviate congestion at this busy intersection just northeast of downtown, and might play a bigger role in stimulating more development in the area...

Quote:
Harrison Street roundabout is welcomed by nearby businesses
By Al Jones | MLive
November 2, 2017

KALAMAZOO, MI -- The new Harrison Street/Gull Road roundabout opened Friday to vehicular traffic just north of downtown Kalamazoo -- with little fanfare and with little trouble reported...The intersection is the confluence of East Ransom Street, Gull Road and Harrison Street just north and east of downtown Kalamazoo. Stop signs were used previous to manage traffic headed north from Harrison. Work to convert it to a more even-flowing thoroughfare began in late May...
View south, along Harrison:

Image Source: Al Jones | MLive

View northeast, along Gull Road:

Image Source: Al Jones | MLive

A rendering from earlier this year:

Image Source: MLive | Courtesy City of Kalamazoo / Wightman & Associates, Inc.


...Not super exciting news on its own. What is more interesting to me is the development opportunities that this infrastructure upgrade might help attract. The roundabout makes the district more navigable and accessible for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. Given the success of other recent developments in the neighborhood, the City is pushing for proposals from developers to redevelop several more parcels in the River's Edge district, which is roughly bounded by Kalamazoo Ave to the south, Pitcher Street to the west, Frank Street to the north, and the Kalamazoo River to the east. The district is poised to become a hotbed of residential apartments and mixed use development.

Quote:
Proposals sought for Harrison Street redevelopment projects
By Al Jones | MLive
Updated October 9, 2017; Posted September 1, 2017
The branding of this River's Edge neighborhood and its recent developments have been led by the City and mostly one developer, NoMI, which is responsible for projects including Walbridge Commons, the Ignertia Building, and the Norbridge Building, among others. Pictured below is Walbridge Commons, which opened last summer and features 31 one and two-bedroom apartments and 16 micro-apartments.


Image Source: Al Jones | MLive

Significant parcels up for redevelopment today and being promoted by the City include:
  • 419 Harrison St (empty lot behind Checkers)
  • 525 E. Ransom St (a mostly empty lot, northwest corner of Harrison St, Gull Rd and Ransom St, across from MacKenzie's Bakery)
  • 617 Harrison St (empty lot half a block north of 525 E Ransom)
  • 655 Gull Rd (highly trafficked corner lot where North St meets Gull Rd)
  • A nearly 5-acre parcel east of Harrison and South of Gull Rd (former site of Kalamazoo Tank & Silo Co., RFP for this lot was issued July 17 and the deadline was Sept. 28).

I made an overlay showing these parcels, below:

Base Image (Map) Source: Google Maps

All of these lots have been included on the list of brownfield sites, meaning that there are financial incentives for redevelopment. A previous proposal for 525 E. Ransom - called Harrison Circle - fell through in 2015. That was to be a $15 million, five-story development, including 40,000 SF of business and 30,000 SF for 100 apartment units. Two primary reasons cited for its demise were the delay in constructing the roundabout and two prospective tenants pulling out.

A sketchy rendering of the Harrison Circle development, as originally proposed in 2015:

Image Source: MLive

So now that the roundabout is open, if new tenants can be secured, hopefully something of similar density *(but a better design) will arise at this area soon. A new RFP for this site had a deadline of November 3, the same day that the delayed roundabout officially opened. Nothing has been made public yet on the results of that RFP (from what I could find).
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  #153  
Old Posted Nov 8, 2017, 7:36 PM
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I drove by the Kalamazoo YMCA on Maple Street at lunch today. Phase 2 of the "Building for Generations Capital Campaign" expansion is complete and looks good. This phase included a 7,300 SF addition with a multi-purpose room, youth facility, elevator, kitchenette, offices, and storage.

Phase 2 - Complete:

Image Source: My own

Phase 3 has broken ground, and involves a 6,000 SF addition for a new ADA warm water pool. It will replace an existing, smaller pool. Construction is expected to wrap up in Spring 2018.

Phase 3 - Rendering:

Image Source: Tower Pinkster

Phase 3 - demolition is complete and ground has been broken:

Image Source: My own

This is all part of the area Y's "Building for Generations Capital Campaign". Phase 1 involved updated, gender-neutral locker rooms at the Portage location, and opened in March 2016. AVB is the Construction Manager and Tower Pinkster is the Architect for the work.

Site Plan Showing Phase 2 and 3 Expansions:

Image Source: MLive | Courtesy Tower Pinkster

Last edited by deja vu; Nov 8, 2017 at 11:48 PM.
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  #154  
Old Posted Nov 14, 2017, 5:07 AM
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Pfizer is planning to hire at least 400 new employees at its Portage manufacturing complex (200 replacement plus 200 new positions). I knew this place was huge, but I didn't know that it employed around 3,500, when you count independent contractors and other support personnel. I also didn't know that it is considered THE largest of its 63 production facilities worldwide. The majority of the Portage facility work is dedicated to the production of  sterile injectable medicines, often used in life-saving scenarios. Pfizer is currently partway through the second phase of a $150 million investment in the facility, which is intended to increase production capacity. $1 billion in capital has been invested at this site in the past ten years.

Quote:
Pfizer Inc. is looking to fill 200 new positions in Portage
By Al Jones
November 13, 2017

PORTAGE, MI - Pfizer Inc. is looking to fill 200 new skilled trades, engineering and manufacturing jobs. The jobs are related to work that is ongoing at its mammoth pharmaceutical manufacturing plant at 7000 Portage Road, as well as the expansion it announced there in 2016. Company officials pegged the cost of the two-part expansion at $145 million last year. But last week they estimated that one part would total about $108 million and the other about $42 million...

Last edited by deja vu; Nov 21, 2017 at 5:05 AM.
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  #155  
Old Posted Nov 18, 2017, 3:12 PM
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In rapidly sub-urbanizing Oshtemo Township, plans are underway to redevelop a 5-parcel brownfield site. An application was recently submitted to the Kalamazoo County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority to obtain tax incentives for Stadium Park Way, a industrial drive located off of Stadium Drive, between 6th and 8th street. The plan must still go before the Township and the County Board of Commissioners for approval.

Quote:
Door hinge manufacturer, flavor company expand in Oshtemo Township
By Malachi Barrett | MLive
November 16, 2017

...Thursday the Kalamazoo County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority approved a brownfield plan application for redevelopment on Stadium Drive between 6th and 8th Streets in Oshtemo Township. The application includes five adjacent parcels with millions of dollars in redevelopment planned. The county could capture around $809,000 in tax revenue for its brownfield revolving fund if the plan is approved by Oshtemo Township and the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners...
There are several business parties involved - with combined plans that equate to millions of dollars in new investment and millions in investment credits:
  • Harrison Packing Company - the first business on the site, built a 40,000 SF storage and processing facility for its pickle packaging business on one of the parcels in 2015.
  • National Flavors - a long-established local flavoring company, purchased a parcel in 2015 and is currently building a $4.9 million, 30,000 SF manufacturing facility to accommodate growth.
  • Kalamazoo Storage, LLC. - is currently constructing three self-storage buildings on a parcel, about 20,000 SF total at a cost of about $2 million.
  • Select Products Limited - an aluminum door hing manufacturer in Portage, has plans to purchase one of the parcels and construct a new $3 million, 50,000 SF facility to consolidate its operations by 2018, with another 40,000 SF anodizing facility to be built within 5 years.

Site Redevelopment Plan:

Source: MLive | Kalamazoo County
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  #156  
Old Posted Nov 18, 2017, 5:41 PM
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I was hoping to take some photos around town today, but ongoing rain has hampered that plan. So instead, here's some recent news on several small neighborhood developments happening around the area:

1. New Mini-Neighborhood, Eastside

In Kalamazoo's Eastside neighborhood, the County Land Bank is working with the local neighborhood association and potential investors to fund a new mini-neighborhood of 8 small, mixed-income homes on the site of recently cleared land that housed several blighted homes. The Land Bank hopes to raise $2.5 million and begin construction in 2018. The homes are planned to be 600-1,000 SF, with 1-2 bedrooms each. The proposed site is at Foresman and East Michigan Ave. There is currently a community garden adjacent to the planned development which would be integrated into the overall plans.

The first tiny house in the city was completed earlier this year on Charles Avenue, several blocks away.

2. Read and Write Kalamazoo - new Home, Vine Neighborhood

Read and Write Kalamazoo (RAWK) is approaching the opening of its new home at the corner of South Westnedge and Vine Street (802 S. Westnedge), previously home of Kalamazoo Neighborhood Housing Services. RAWK is a local nonprofit that promotes reading and writing for area youth. It will move from its current Northside 'Reality Factory' location (213 E. Frank Street) to the Vine Neighborhood in an effort to increase its accessibility and community impact. One of 40 $25,000 grants from State Farm Insurance Co. was awarded to RAWK out of 2,000 national applications for the Neighborhood Assist program.

Quote:
Read and Write Kalamazoo (RAWK) gets ready to rock the corner of Vine and Westnedge
By Kathy Jennings | Second Wave Media
November 2, 2017

3. Bates Alley Improvements, Downtown / Haymarket District

The City of Kalamazoo, with the help of Downtown Kalamazoo Inc. is trying to crowdfund $50,000 on patronicity to support planned pedestrian improvements to Bates Alley. This is part of a larger trend in the city to make its small network of downtown alleyways more approachable for non-vehicular users. If $50K can be raised by November 29, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation will chip in an additional $50K to support the work, which will include:
  • Repairing and repaving the roadway
  • Installation of overhead bistro string lights
  • Replacing unsightly parking lot fencing with ornamental trees and landscaping
  • Decorative fencing
  • Installation of removable bollards at either end, to limit vehicular access
  • Bike racks, waste receptacles and other streetscape items to be included
  • Decorative signage
  • Lighting along the cornices of the buildings that line the length of the alley
Bates Alley and Portage Road - Today:


Bates Alley and Portage Rd - Proposed Rendering:

Images Source: Patronicity

The 'proposed' rendering feels a bit convoluted, but I'm sure the end result won't appear so haphazard. It also seems like the City is not waiting for the crowdfunding deadline (or next Spring) to begin some of the work. Two weeks ago some of the asphalt parking lot was torn up and new plants and outdoor power outlets quickly appeared. A new tree was also planted at the corner of Bates Alley and Edwards Street (the other entrance / node of the alley).

Bates Alley and S Edwards St - Before:

Image Source: Google Maps

Bates Alley and S Edwards St - as photographed on November 8, 2017:

Image Source: My own

I don't think this crowdfunding campaign has been very well publicized yet, but I hope that the goal is reached. It would be an improvement for the restaurant businesses along this stretch, because nobody wants to sit out on the sidewalk that fronts Michigan Avenue and breathe in all the diesel fumes while they sip their cocktails.

Video Link
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  #157  
Old Posted Nov 19, 2017, 6:00 PM
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Video footage from a drone flyover update for construction progress at Portage Public School's North and Central Campuses was issued by PPS. Click this link to get to the video. Included in the video is footage of Huskie Field and the new 3 story middle school at the north campus, as well as central's new natatorium. Much better views than I could ever get.

Last edited by deja vu; Nov 21, 2017 at 4:55 AM.
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  #158  
Old Posted Nov 22, 2017, 4:32 AM
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The Peoples Food Co-op has started a small addition to add dining space for about 30 at the front of the store. It's a small affair - just the stretch of windows on the left side of the below rendering, but it does reflect the success of the PFC and yet another investment in the River's Edge district.

Quote:
PFC Natural Grocery & Deli expands to add seating
By Al Jones | MLive
November 21, 2017



Images Source: MLive
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  #159  
Old Posted Nov 26, 2017, 2:18 AM
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I did some driving and walking around the west side of town on Wednesday and took some random photos of projects that I haven't really paid too close attention to...

1. Parkway Flats

The first few units are going up for a new 241-unit luxury apartment development along the Aboretum Parkway, in the Arcadia neighborhood. This has been a controversial development that required rezoning of development land that was itself once part of a long, contentious debate. It's all approved and humming along now though - I had to dig around to actually come up with the name - they're calling this Parkway Flats, per the developer's website (Kendall Property Group).







Here's a rezoning plan, showing the site, west of Linden Grove Middle School and east of S Drake Rd:

Source: MLive (Courtesy Kalamazoo Planning Commission)

And from the developer, a site layout plan:

Image Source: Kendall Property Group

2. Walnut Woods Office Centre Addition

A 2-story addition at 5955 Walnut Woods Office Centre, near the interesction of West Main and US-131, is nearing completion. Didn't even realize that it was happening until it is amost done:





3. Latitude 42-Oshtemo Township Location

A popular Portage-based brewpub - Latitude 42 - is building a second location, in Oshtemo Township. This is just a stone's throw down the road (West Main) from the previous project:



4. The Gateway

AVB's massive development project near West Main and US-131, known as The Gateway, is moving along. I didn't get too close with construction work happening. The first building on the site is one of the three hotels (some version of a Holiday Inn I think), and the first two floors are framed up. I will try to get better photos at some point.





5. Stryker HQ

No photos today for this one, but also worth mentioning that steel is going up fast at the Stryker site in Portage. It looks like a lot of the structural frame is already in place. I spotted it as I was driving and was surprised to see how quickly it has grown. I will try to take some new photos at some point.
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  #160  
Old Posted Nov 26, 2017, 12:13 PM
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What's the drama behind Parkway? Knowing Michigan, I wouldn't be surprised if you tell me that neighbors were made that it's too many houses per acre or something. lol
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