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  #121  
Old Posted Sep 11, 2017, 12:18 AM
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Quote:
Heritage Guitar partners with Rolling Stone to make factory a must-see
By Al Jones | MLive
September 08, 2017
This is interesting...the article reveals a little bit more about the long-term renovation plans to the property at 225 Parsons St. including mention of "a premium lifestyle offering." PlazaCorp, the recent purchaser of the property (under the name 225 Parsons LLC) has not revealed specifics, but there is also mention of a "live entertainment venue, a music instrument store, a recording studio and a space for musicians to try instruments or rehearse" as well as "a courtyard and cafe/restaurant with a view across the iconic site where people can enjoy a meal and soak in the musical history of Kalamazoo."
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  #122  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2017, 9:53 PM
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Here's a few construction updates from yesterday evening. It was a nice day so I took a walk after work.

The Exchange is moving along - I posted more photos of the project here.


246 Michigan Ave - The balcony is now added for this private residence conversion:


Former Alamo Drafthouse / Soon to be the AMC Kalamazoo 10 Theatre. I couldn't get too close because of security, but there is clearly a lot of interior activity happening right now. They are constructing some sort of new bulkhead on the inside of the curtain wall - probably for advertising upcoming attractions from the inside. It's a quick turnaround - renovations / reopening is expected this Fall:




Peregrine 100 - Phase 2, which involves conversion of the oldest portion of this former bank building into retail and apartments, is ongoing. First floor windows are removed, presumably will be replaced:




They also recently installed new exterior signage - it looks ok, but the old wall panels behind the sign on the Kalamazoo Mall side look dirty / damaged. Pretty silly to me that they didn't fix that:


Site clearing is underway for Phase 2 of The Foundry Development. A portion of this cleared area will be for the future extension of Harrison St south to Pitcher St. According to this MLive article, "Phase 2 calls for the development of an office and residential building...between 45,000 and 60,000 square feet, all on one floor...another 10,000 square feet may be added on a second level for residential uses." It's a sizable area for Downtown / Rivers Edge (about 8 acres). It's just too bad that the best we can expect is a two story structure with more surface parking. More finished pictures of The Foundry Phase 1 can be found here.



There's several piles of small scrap metal laying about:












This portion is being remodeled into a new restaurant:




Finally, with daylight waning, I tried to get a look at the new Portage Northern MS, which is further along with steel work than I had thought:


It's those extra 20 volts that will kill ya:
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  #123  
Old Posted Sep 15, 2017, 6:43 PM
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A pretty big project out of WMU is moving forward. The University has announced plans to replace all of the first-year student dormitories in 'The Valley Neighborhood' with new dorms. The area is presently comprised of three large complexes, known as Valley I, Valley II, and Valley III. Each of these complexes currently houses approximately 1,000 students, with four connected halls per complex (12 halls total).

Quote:
Western Michigan plans to replace Valley dorms
By Kayla Miller | MLive
September 15, 2017
The dorms were built in the 1960s, and are pretty typical of that time (and quite sparse by today's standards), consisting of small suites where two student rooms share a connecting bathroom. The below video tour of Ackley / Shilling Halls gives a sense of the typical feel of these dorms:

Video Link


The new dorms might be expected to resemble something similar to the recently completed Western Heights Residence Halls (also designed for first-year students). The rooms themselves are quite small, with more money and design being put into shared collaboration and activity spaces:

Video Link


CannonDesign is leading the design of the new dormitories, and the first of three public forums was recently held on campus on 9/14/17 to gather input form students and faculty / staff. Valley III, consisting of Fox, Eldridge, Harrison, and Stinson Halls will be the first to go, with demolition starting in early 2018 and completion expected by Fall 2020. Using the figures in the MLive article, this project might cost somewhere round $165 Million in total (assuming 3,000 student beds x $55,000 per bed).

Campus Map:


Valley Neighborhood Detail:

Base image source: WMU Campus Maps

Aerial view of the Valley Neighborhood, in all of its 1960s splendor. The cleared area is where the new Valley Dining Center now stands:

Image Source: Google Maps

Existing Valley Dorm Photo:

Image Source: MLive

Last edited by deja vu; Sep 16, 2017 at 4:16 AM.
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  #124  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2017, 2:25 PM
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A little bit west of Kalamazoo, in the Village of Mattawan, the Mattawan Consolidated School District just opened its new Later Elementary Building (grades 3 through 5). There was a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday night for students, parents, and staff. The school features learning neighborhoods divided into three wings, with a lot of state-of-the-art technology and advanced building systems. There is also an abundance of natura light, as evidenced in the photos below. A new Early Elementary building is also under construction next door to serve grades K-2. It will connect to the Later Elementary once completed in Fall 2018. Together, the two schools will be one of the largest elementary facilities in the state, with the capacity for around 1,500 students. The link below offers a short new coverage video by WWMT.

Quote:
New Mattawan Later Elementary School building hosts open house
by Christine VanTimmeren | WWMT
September 13th 2017

MATTAWAN, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A new state-of-the-art school is celebrating its grand opening right now. Mattawan schools designed a new later elementary school building that is unlike anything else in the district. District leaders say this new building accommodates the 21st century learning needs of both students and staff. The new design does away with the traditional classrooms and lockers and instead features open learning spaces that encourage interaction...
MLive posted a bunch of photos on their site. You can link to those here. Below are a couple of highlights - it really is a good looking facility. I wish my elementary had been this nice.

Cafeteria:


Commons:


Commons:


Commons:


Gymnasium

All Images Source: Mark Bugnaski | MLive

(If you're still reading this, here is some footage from back in July, including some good drone flyover footage):
Video Link
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  #125  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2017, 10:38 PM
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I was driving around town today and noticed that demolition has begun on a portion of 829 Portage Street just south of Vine Street, in the northern part of the Edison neighborhood. The area actually consists of three buildings (and I think several separate parcels). The prevelant grape motif is a remnant of the structures' former use as a warehouse for 'Grapevine Furniture' - a new and used furniture business which closed in 2013 after 25 years in service. The property has been pretty much vacant since then. Here's an article that I found from 2013 about the closing of the business:

I've always liked the brick detail on the one masonry building (which has severely degraded in recent years). While nothing fancy, it still showed that some care was put into the construction of the original building. I would love to find out its age and its original intended use - maybe that portion will not be destroyed (but I'm guessing it will). I will try to find out more about what the plans are for this property, which has good street presence on a corner lot along the busy north-south Portage Street.






Images Source: Google Maps (Accessed 9/17/17)
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  #126  
Old Posted Sep 23, 2017, 1:25 PM
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Some news updates from around town.

1. Perhaps of greatest weight, a land-swap deal between the County and Plazacorp has been cleared, regarding plans for a potential future consolidated County Courthouse in Arcadia West, between Cooley and Park Streets. The rough estimate for the developments in this area are $100 - $200 million, but it is still early on. Wood TV8 did a news story on it here:

Quote:
Kalamazoo land swap clears way for courthouse
By Brady Gillum | Wood TV8
September 20, 2017
2. An expansion of Newell Brands Inc. may be coming to the area, if local officials can entice the company with enough incentives. Newell Brands, maker of things like Sharpie markers, Rubbermaid kitchen supplies, and Graco car seats, has a 3-year old, 40,000 SF design and research center at WMU's Business Technology and Research Park that employs about 100. An expansion could equate to an $8 million investment via a 22,000+ SF addition, and perhaps 60 new jobs. Existing jobs at the facility have estimated salaries of $70,000 to $90,000 per year.

Quote:
Kalamazoo plans incentives to attract expansion of Newell Brands Inc.
By Al Jones | MLive
September 22, 2017
3. The Kalamazoo Farmer's Market pavilion could be expanding, via the City's purchase of condemned property near the current market. This is part of a three-year plan that also includes realigning Bank Street, which leads into the market, to better accommodate the increased car traffic. The popularity of the market has grown to the point that vendors are frequently turned away due to lack of space.

Quote:
Kalamazoo Farmers Market expansion could add vendor space, parking
By Malachi Barrett | MLive
September 21, 2017
4. I don't care too much about this, but Gallagher's Restaurant, on Stadium drive, will be partially converted to 5,000 SF of mixed retail (with 5,000 SF remaining for the current restaurant). A new 11,000 SF retail addition will be added to the back of the current 10,000 SF structure. The new opening is scheduled for summer 2018.

Quote:
Gallagher's restaurant to be redeveloped for mixed use
By Al Jones | MLive
September 22, 2017
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  #127  
Old Posted Sep 29, 2017, 9:54 PM
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I just posted some photos of a recent tour of the old Vicksburg Paper Mill, which has big redevelopment plans in its future. You can check out those photos on the Discovering Kalamazoo - Photo Thread, here.
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  #128  
Old Posted Sep 30, 2017, 2:26 PM
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A previous post mentioned that the City was exploring potential redevelopment of the former fire station on 116 W Cedar St. Officials have now issued an RFQ for developers. The RFQ can be found here. According to it,

Quote:
Kalamazoo’s preferred development for this site would:
  • Rehabilitate and creatively reuse the existing public safety building with an active commercial use on the main floor
  • Activate Cedar Street as southern entry into downtown by using the existing front setback for an outdoor use, or an indoor/outdoor use that takes advantage of the building’s garage bay doors
  • Consider adding additional floors or expanding the footprint of the building, especially to provide downtown housing options
  • Incorporate arts into the redevelopment, whether through on-site gallery, studio, or performing spaces, or via prominent public art installations
  • Create a destination that can anchor an extension of the pedestrian retail character of the Kalamazoo Mall
Quote:
The schedule for receipt and evaluation of proposals is anticipated to be as follows:
  • RFQ posted: September 20, 2017
  • Deadline for proposals: December 1, 2017
  • Evaluation period: December 1 – December 14, 2017
  • Finalist team notified: December 15, 2017
  • Finalist presentation to evaluation committee: January 2018
  • Finalize terms of a redevelopment and purchase agreement: February 2018
The city's idea is to keep the large garage bays and add additional floors.

Current View from Cedar St:


City Planners' proposed massing:

Images Source: placemaking.mml.org
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  #129  
Old Posted Sep 30, 2017, 3:48 PM
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Some news from the week:

1. Lot's of moving pieces right now with the City's ongoing master plan talks and related discussions:

Quote:
Economic development and affordable housing goals emerge from master plan process
Kathy Jennings | SecondWave Media
Thursday, September 28, 2017
Sounds like a lot of talk, but this part of the story caught my attention:

Quote:
...in some of the biggest news of the night, Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC) announced that it will fund economic development and housing strategies in Kalamazoo intended to serve as a catalyst to “re-energize” core neighborhoods and create living-wage job opportunities that are accessible to those living in core city neighborhoods. Kalamazoo will be part of a pilot program funded with a 2- to-1 match of an as yet to be determined amount, Denise Scott, Executive Vice President of LISC, told the commission...Buffalo, Indianapolis, and Chicago are also working with LISC in the economic catalyst program...
2. The first tenant is confirmed for the latest Trade Centre building, along the I-94 corridor:

Quote:
650 Trade Centre Way to get first tenant
Kathy Jennings | SecondWave Media
Thursday, September 28, 2017

Kalamazoo's largest law firm will be leaving its downtown offices on East Michigan Ave. for a new space in the third of the Trade Centre office buildings, off the I-94. Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP will move its Kalamazoo office to 650 Trade Centre Way, where it will be the building's first tenant. 650 Trade Centre Way, is a five-story, 100,000-square-foot office space designed by world famous architects, Minoru Yamasaki... 
A bit misleading, as Minoru passed away in 1986. If the article meant to refer to the firm which he founded, it was called "Minoru Yamasaki Associates, Inc." before his death, and it was renamed to Yamasaki & Associates after his death, until its shutdown in 2009. Recent news indicates that the firm will be reopening again in Detroit.

3. More info on Newell-Rubbermaid's planned expansion in Kzoo:

Quote:
Newell Brands plans expansion at BTR Park
Kathy Jennings | SecondWave Media
Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Newell Brands Inc. acquisition of the consumer products company Jarden is proving to be good news for Kalamazoo. The business move means Newell needs to expand its design capabilities to accommodate the additional product lines. Newell plans to expand its current product design and testing facility in Kalamazoo with a $7.3 million investment that is expected to create 87 design jobs...
4. Trader Joe's is soon to open its first location in Kalamazoo:

Quote:
Trader Joe's gets set for Oct. 12 opening west of Kalamazoo
Al Jones | MLive
September 29, 2017
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  #130  
Old Posted Oct 7, 2017, 2:45 PM
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1. Recent article on the progress of non-motorized trails in Kalamazoo and surrounding areas:

Quote:
Long promised trail connections are starting to link up
By Mark Wedel | Second Wave Media
Thursday, October 05, 2017

From a new trail through a bit of urban wetlands to a single-track park for mountain bikers, Kalamazoo's non-motorized pathways have seen planned routes become bikeable realities in 2017. Plus, the long-awaited, long-planned connection of the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail through downtown is still on track to be finished by the end of fall. And on track are more connections, needed for Kalamazoo's non-motorized network to link up to future trailways to Portage, Battle Creek and beyond -- eventually around 200 miles through southwest Michigan...


Image Source: Second Wave Media
2. Not much new info in this article, but a photo of the former Alamo Drafthouse with the new AMC signage that was recently installed. To my disappointment, it looks like this is about all that will be done to the exterior of the buiding, in terms of renovations & repair.

Quote:
AMC Theatres on target for fall opening but no date has been set
By Al Jones | MLive
October 5, 2017 (Updated October 6, 2017)


Image Source: MLive | Al Jones
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  #131  
Old Posted Oct 14, 2017, 6:30 PM
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Quote:
EPA signs off on $46 million plan to clean up Kalamazoo River

By Associated Press
Crain's Detroit Business
October 13, 2017

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has signed off on a five-year, $46 million plan to clean up a stretch of the Kalamazoo River that's contaminated from past paper production.

The project will cover nearly 2 miles of the river between Plainwell and Otsego City Dam. The Otsego dam will be removed as part of the work.

The plans are part of ongoing efforts to clean up the 80-mile Allied Paper/Portage Creek/Kalamazoo River Superfund site, which has been listed on the agency's National Priorities List since 1990. Plans also are in the works to redevelop the Allied Paper site.

A main concern for the EPA is PCBs leftover from industrial processes at paper mills that began operating along the river in the 1950s.
http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article...alamazoo-river
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  #132  
Old Posted Oct 15, 2017, 2:35 PM
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^ That's great news for the area. They've been working on securing that funding for a while now.

Speaking of rivers and water - it has been pouring rain here - 6" yesterday and more today although it is tapering off. Below are some photos of Western Michigan's Waldo Stadium, which experienced unprecedented flooding Saturday evening. Lighting in the area initially caused the game to be delayed, but it was ultimately postponed, once the field began flooding. An excessive amount of water from the overflowing Arcadia Creek poured down the stairs on the western side of the stadium, filling it and creating a small lake. Too bad PJ Fleck wasn't still around to help them 'row the boat' our of this mess.

These photos are by Kaytie Boomer at MLive.










Last edited by deja vu; Oct 15, 2017 at 2:46 PM.
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  #133  
Old Posted Oct 15, 2017, 5:28 PM
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Wow that's crazy it's been rainy here on the east side of the state for a few days but only a couple inches at best i think we got some gulf of mexico moisture courtesy of the remnants of hurricane nate.
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  #134  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2017, 2:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Docta_Love View Post
Wow that's crazy it's been rainy here on the east side of the state for a few days but only a couple inches at best i think we got some gulf of mexico moisture courtesy of the remnants of hurricane nate.
So the sun came back (briefly) after more than 6" of rain were dumped in some parts of the city over the weekend. WMU lost its postponed homecoming game to Akron on Sunday, after the ground crews were able to clear about 2 feet of standing water from the stadium field. You figure that the stadium has the proper infrastructure to deal with heavy rainfall, but this was just unprecedented. I think most of the interior spaces were spared. They managed to produce sandbags rather quickly from somewhere close by.
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  #135  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2017, 4:30 PM
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An insightful article from Second Wave Media that tells the story of Kalamazoo's recent growth and many positive changes. I've met Andrew a few times, and he and his team at DKI have a good handle on navigating the many challenges and priorities that often define this small city.

Quote:
Local roots and passion for downtowns serve Downtown Kalamazoo Inc. president well
By Mark Wedel | Second Wave Media
Thursday, October 19, 2017

Andrew Haan remembers downtown Kalamazoo life in the early 1980s when he was kid.

"It was so striking -- at lunch time the sidewalks were just full of people. By five o'clock it was tumbleweeds." 

In February Haan took his role as the president of Downtown Kalamazoo Inc., the organization that helped boost downtown out of its tumbleweed doldrums. Second Wave visited recently to pick his brains after a busy summer of growth and change downtown...
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  #136  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2017, 4:52 PM
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A local Architecture / Engineering / Surveying firm, Wightman & Associates, is making a move from Portage to downtown Kalamazoo's east end (433 E. Ransom) as it expands its staff and aligns itself more with their client base in the area. I think this is good news in several ways - one being an indicator of the increasing health of the metro area's A&E industry, another being a testament to just how much the east end has transformed in recent years to attract new housing and businesses. The company's main office is in Benton Harbor, with a third location in Allegan. They will more than triple the SF of what they had in their current Portage office space.

Here is the property as it looks on google maps today, across the street from the Norbridge Building. It's walking distance from Bell's, HopCat, Green Door Distilling, etc.

The interior aesthetics look a lot like many of the other downtown firms' offices, which tend to be located in repurposed industrial / exposed brick-type structures. By my count, this will put the total count of A/E offices located in the greater downtown area somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 - 20 separate firms, which to me is a lot, given how small the city is.








Images Source: Second Wave Media / WAI

Quote:
Wightman & Associates, Inc. begins renovation work on new Kalamazoo office
By Kathy Jennings | Second Wave Media
Thursday, October 19, 2017

Wightman & Associates, Inc. (WAI) will relocate from its current location in Portage to 433 E. Ransom in Kalamazoo. 

The project will involve the complete renovation of the former One-Way Products building. When completed Wightman & Associates, Inc. will be able to continue the recent expansion of its staff. It also will be able to expand the range of services it provides to businesses and municipalities in the region.

The company’s current 3,700 square-foot office location at 9835 Portage Road in Portage is no longer a fit for the staff of over 30 engineering, architecture, GIS and survey professionals based there. It also lacks client meeting space and adequate storage for equipment and work vehicles...
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  #137  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2017, 6:53 PM
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I missed this news when it came out...in post #123 I wrote about WMU's plans to move forward with the plan to replace the valley dorms. Well apparently that is now on hold, indefinitely, with unclear reasons why, but probably a combination of decreased enrollment and financial challenges.

Quote:
Western Michigan suspends plans to raze and replace Valley dorms
By Kayla Miller | MLive
October 4, 2017

KALAMAZOO, MI -- Plans to demolish and replace residence halls in Valley III on Western Michigan University's main campus have been suspended, a university spokesperson said. Cheryl Roland, executive director of university relations, said in an email to MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette on Wednesday, Oct. 4 that plans for demolition of the 1960s era dorms were "always speculative." The university was in very early planning stages and had not committed to a definitive schedule or plan to move forward, she said. WMU is looking at "other campus development priorities" right now, Roland said...
It's an odd statement by the University to say that plans were always speculative. The press release issued a few weeks before this seemed to imply that a planned construction schedule with demolition in early 2018 was moving forward full steam.
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  #138  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2017, 7:17 PM
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A long-planned expansion of WMU's successful Business Technology and Research Park (BTR Park) in Oshtemo Township is closing in on a Spring 2018 groundbreaking, according to a recent MLive article. The site has an interesting history, having served as former orchards that were maintained by former residents of the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital. Long-overgrown, this 50+ acre parcel is one of the largest undeveloped pieces of land in the area, and is located adjacent to the Asylum Lake Nature Preserve, itself the site of former Psych Hospital activities and structures.

I think my favorite part of the article is the name of the Oshtemo Township Planning Commission Secretary - Dusty Farmer.

Quote:
Western Michigan nears groundbreaking on business park expansion
By Malachi Barrett | MLive
October 16, 2017

KALAMAZOO, MI -- New designs reflect an attempt to reduce the environmental impact of an expansion to Western Michigan University's Business Technology and Research Park that could begin by the early spring of 2018. The BTR Park, which includes the university's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences south of Parkview along U.S. 131 in Kalamazoo, is near capacity. WMU plans to expand it onto a 53-acre property in Oshtemo Township, formerly known as the Colony Farm Orchard, on the northwest corner of Parkview and Drake Road...


The site is the wooded portion - in the mid-ground of this image. US-131 is in the foreground, and the existing BTR Park and Asylum Lake Preserve are in the background:



Images Source: MLive
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  #139  
Old Posted Oct 22, 2017, 4:46 AM
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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? It have been great where it technically in the city, but maybe it wasn't possible. Also, on that site plan, are the proposed buildings the white areas?
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  #140  
Old Posted Oct 22, 2017, 5:41 AM
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Quote:
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? It have been great where it technically in the city, but maybe it wasn't possible. Also, on that site plan, are the proposed buildings the white areas?

Here's what the article has to say about future expansion nothing seems to be clear but new building for expansion of the WMU R&D business park is the ultimate goal.

Quote:
The wooded site along U.S. 131 will retain some of its natural features, under the university's plans, while providing space for development meant to create taxable land, spur economic growth and offer research opportunities for WMU faculty and students.

The WMU business park is home to about 40 research, development, biotechnology, engineering and related companies, and the university's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The BTR park, which opened in 2002, has employed 850 people at businesses operating there and provided internship opportunities for hundreds of WMU students since it was launched, university officials say.
This is a very interesting project it seems like the white spots shown are spaces for the expansion of the Western Michigan University business park. There are laws in Michigan that protect wetlands from development or require developers to recreate a larger wetlands area if one is to be filled in and developed over. It looks to me like the area to the north of the site is a wetlands area and with a buffer zone with storm water management built into the fringes of new business park perhaps a portion of the site falls under certain natural protection or it just could be that WMU is trying to use the natural beauty of the site to attract tenants.
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