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  #61  
Old Posted May 14, 2017, 5:38 PM
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WMU's plan to demolish a long-standing group of student-occupied homes near campus has been scrapped, after demolishing two of the houses (941 and 945 Bellevue Place).

Houses demolished near WMU but plans to raze several more scrapped

The Bellevue Place homes are part of the South Street-Vine Area Local Historic District. While the homes have all seen better days, they were among some of the first homes constructed in the early 1900s by private developers to provide off-campus housing for students (before any on-campus housing was available). This small neighborhood reminds me of a lot of the narrow streets in Pittsburgh / Oakland, from my college days. Student ghetto, sure - but I would rather see them rehabbed than torn down just to provide some 'green space.'
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  #62  
Old Posted May 14, 2017, 5:47 PM
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The redesign of the planned roundabout for Downtown Kalamazoo's Eastside was given a 'D+' by The Complete Streets Coalition of Kalamazoo on Wednesday, 5/10. The first design received an 'F' rating, and the Coalition recommended that plans not proceed for any design with less than a B+ rating. Ultimately the decision is up to the City Commission, when it votes on the plan tomorrow.

Transportation safety advocates give Kalamazoo roundabout design 'D+'


Image Source: MLive | Courtesy City of Kalamazoo
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  #63  
Old Posted May 14, 2017, 5:59 PM
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Posted this on the building thread, but since probably not many will look there:

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Official groundbreaking for The Exchange was on Friday, although site prep and foundation work is already underway. Opening is now set for spring of 2019. At 15 stories tall, this is about as good as it gets for Kalamazoo.

Work begins on long-awaited Exchange Building in Kzoo
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  #64  
Old Posted May 14, 2017, 6:04 PM
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Not directly development-related, but WoodTV did a short news story on the 37-year anniversary of the 1980 tornado that struck the heart of downtown. The aerial footage of the damage caused by this F-3 tornado is pretty incredible.

Following Kalamazoo tornado’s path 37 years later
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  #65  
Old Posted May 14, 2017, 6:39 PM
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The long-vacant Lee Paper Mill in Vicksburg is finally being repurposed, as a mixed-use 'life style destination' according to the new owner, Paper City Development, LLC. (Vicksburg is a small (but growing) village located about 15 miles south of Downtown Kalamazoo)

Paper making, once Kalamazoo's largest industry, went the same way as a lot of domestic industry in the 1970s & 80s (downhill). Of the many former paper mills in the area, some have been demolished, some have been repurposed, and some are awaiting redevelopment. It's a relief to see a solid plan for this one, although I'm not sure that it will be able to support some of the planned uses...

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This mixed-use development, upon completion, could have spaces available for retail, interpretive museums, restaurants, higher education research, craft breweries, large indoor and outdoor event venues, artisan makers, and residential lofts apartments with a unique hotel and hospitality experience. Source
Here is a simple master plan for the site, from the Byce & Associates website, along with 'then & now photos':





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  #66  
Old Posted May 16, 2017, 6:01 PM
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Last night, in its ongoing effort to encourage development and reduce traffic constrictions in the east end of downtown, the City Commission voted yes on the proposed Harrison St / Ransom St / Gull Road roundabout.

The Commission also approved a 'Memorandum of Understanding' with local developer Treystar to extend Harrison Street south of E Michigan Ave, alongside The Foundry development, currently underway. In this partnership, the public road will be constructed by the private developer, with on-street parking provided, and the city will provide utilities, street lights, etc. It will end in a cul-de-sac for now.

Longer-term plans involve extending this road all the way to Pitcher Street, in an effort to improve the road network and make the entire area more attractive to potential development. 50 acres, comprising 45 parcels in this area, were recently rezoned to mixed-used.

Street extension, parking planned near downtown Kalamazoo developments


Image Source: MLive

Here's a quick sketch of what the future extension of Harrison to Pitcher would probably look like:

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  #67  
Old Posted May 18, 2017, 11:31 PM
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650 Trade Centre Way 'topped out' last week in Portage. The five story structure is the newest addition to Hinman Company's Trade Centre development.


Image Source: Hinman Company

Last edited by deja vu; May 19, 2017 at 3:13 AM.
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  #68  
Old Posted May 22, 2017, 2:32 AM
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Terribly sad news this week about the death of Alyssa Elsman, the 18 year old Portage resident who was killed in Times Square on Thursday. Her sister Ava remains hospitalized.

This is a development-oriented forum, but nothing discussed here matters in the slightest when compared against the intentional ending of a human life.
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  #69  
Old Posted May 22, 2017, 10:52 PM
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In March, Kalamazoo applied to be recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a bike-friendly community (the first time it has ever tried for this recognition). I just learned that the City was granted the Bronze award, putting it in the same bike-friendly class as Flint, Grand Rapids, Lansing, East Lansing, Portage, Battle Creek, and Midland. It's a win for the community, with much more progress to be made.

The report card for Kalamazoo is below. As you can see, there are a lot of low scoring areas. There was criticism from the league that there was insufficient road network data provided. I am not sure why the report card states there are 0 bike-friendly businesses, as Bronson Methodist Hospital (based in Kzoo) was recently granted Gold status (awards can be applied for by universities, individual businesses, or entire communities).


Source: League of American Bicyclists
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  #70  
Old Posted May 24, 2017, 2:53 AM
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Kalamazoo's first 'official' tiny home has an open house tomorrow, May 24, from 4:30pm - 7:00pm. The house, built by the local Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity Chapter, is located at 1835 Charles Avenue. It is around 230 SF, Zero Energy Ready, and was built for a single occupant.

This property is the first of its kind to be legally recognized and permitted by the city. More info on the project can be found on Habitat's website.


Image Source: KVHH Facebook Page

I was surprised to learn that the City is making conscious efforts to encourage more tiny homes, and more surprised to read that the current minimum size for a single dwelling in Kalamazoo is specified at just 120 SF by local zoning. It sounds like the current hindrance to a greater proliferation of tiny houses in the City is related to other zoning limitations like minimum lot size and rules that limit the type of accessory structures on residential properties; things that the city is working on changing.

I think Habitat likes the tiny house option for a variety of reasons: it is affordable to construct, easy to maintain, it encourages sustainable lifestyles, and ultimately it is easier for the inhabitants to obtain full ownership.
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  #71  
Old Posted May 25, 2017, 9:41 PM
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US Census Data for Kalamazoo County 2010 - 2016

In Post #18 of this thread, I summarized the Kalamazoo County population growth. The Census data released May 25 reveals some further detail, with population estimates provided for cities, villages and townships in 2016. As a whole, Michigan's population rose 0.5% from 2010 to 2016, and Kalamazoo county was a positive contributor to this growth. Here's a breakdown I put together of the info for Kalamazoo County:



A few observations on the data:
  • Every population area in the County experienced growth on some level.
  • Kalamazoo (City) exceeded 75,000, with 2.2% growth.
  • Portage (City) is nearing the 50,000 mark, and grew about twice as much as Kalamazoo, at 4.6%.
  • Texas Township and the Village of Vicksburg both had relatively 'explosive' population booms, at around 13% growth rate for each. This is especially noticeable in Texas Township, were a lot of development is happening.
  • Galesburg had the lowest growth rate, at 1.8%.

Last edited by deja vu; Jun 2, 2017 at 2:53 PM.
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  #72  
Old Posted May 26, 2017, 12:34 AM
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MLive did a progress update on The Foundry, the 53,000 SF mixed-use development under construction downtown. The office portion is scheduled to be complete in July, and the restaurant is scheduled to be complete by November. A restaurant tenant has not been named yet, but developer Treystar indicated that it will be 'a unique eatery' and not a national chain.

I like the interior office area, and the terrace along the creek is a good idea, but the new exterior finishes on the non-brick portion are just abysmal. The metal panels look terribly bland and misplaced next to the beautiful tones of the old brick from the original 1907 warehouse. Basically, the exterior ended up looking nothing like the rendering shown at the groundbreaking last summer. Also not a big fan of the large parking lot in front of the building. It leaves the area around it feeling just as un-walkable as it does currently.

Here's the exterior rendering publicized last year, which showed what looked to be brick and a lot more glass at the office portion (not to mention the appearance of two stories instead of one):

Image Source: MLive

And here, the exterior as built, with all metal cladding instead of masonry at th office portion. Office space is on the left, the restaurant will be on the right:
Image Source: MLive

And, just for kicks, here is the office floor plan:

Image Source: MLive
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  #73  
Old Posted May 26, 2017, 8:39 PM
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I had lunch today at Fletcher's Pub in Texas Township. Right across the parking lot, the finishing touches are being put on a new restaurant, scheduled to open mid-June. It will be a fast-casual establishment called Rykse & Co. Market and Eatery. Here's a picture I took of the back side:



The new restaurant was the idea of Ryan Rykse, who is the son of the Rykse's Restaurant & Bakery on Stadium Drive. Local Texas Township firm Bosch Architecture did the design. This MLive article provides some more details:

Rykse & Co. is new fast-casual restaurant set to open in June

Texas Township is having a population boom, and there is a lot of new (albeit surbanesque) development happening there, including some pretty decent restaurants. I do like that the new structure is two stories and has an outdoor seating patio that is right up against the sidewalk. With the loft and the outdoor terrace, it will have capacity for at least 125 patrons.


Image Source: Al Jones | MLive


Image Source: Al Jones | MLive

Texas Corners will never have that 'traditional' downtown feel, but the local government has at least made an effort to improve the pedestrian experience by recently installing sidewalks, improved crosswalks, street lamps, etc. I think developments like this that add a little more density are a boon for the area. Anyway, I know suburban-type development isn't the main focus here, but as far as ground-up restaurant construction goes, I think it's a good looking design for the area.
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  #74  
Old Posted May 27, 2017, 2:39 PM
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WMU has commenced demolishing a portion of McCracken Hall, including a 5-story wing and connecting bridge. McCracken is one of the oldest buildings on WMU's main campus. The original part of the building will remain. While it is too early to tell, it is likely that at least a portion of this cleared site will eventually be used for a new student center & expansion to Waldo Library.

Part of oldest building on Western Michigan's main campus coming down
MLive Article by Brad Devereaux, May 26, 2017


Base Image Source: Google Maps


Image Source: MLive | Jake Green


Image Source: MLive | Jake Green
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  #75  
Old Posted May 27, 2017, 2:58 PM
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In other demolition news, TGI Friday's on West Main, near 131, has closed and will soon be demolished to make way for AVB Inc.'s new $100 million Westgate development (formerly referred to as 'The Gateway'). I find very little to be excited about for this development - the publicized plans include several big box store sites, four restaurant sites (likely national-chain), and three hotel sites, two of which have been claimed by a Holiday Inn & Suites and a Holiday Inn Express (the existing Holiday Inn at S. 11th St and Stadium Drive will apparently become a Delta Hotel (Marriott).

All of this wonderful development will be surrounded by a sea of surface parking and access roads. I wish Kalamazoo could do better, and while this development will no-doubt be profitable, bring jobs to the area, etc. etc. it will be entirely bland and forgettable. Ugh.

TGI Fridays to be demolished as work begins on $100M Westgate project
MLive Article, by Al Jones, May 26, 2017


Image Source: MLive | Al Jones
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  #76  
Old Posted Jun 2, 2017, 3:07 PM
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MLive posted a good analysis about the 2016 Census and population changes in SW Michigan today. It covers some of the things that I observed in Post #71 of this thread. One of the things that MLive explained is how many of the counties surrounding Kalamazoo County have experienced (slight) population decline since 2010. Kalamazoo County had the greatest growth in SW MI, followed by Allegan County, and then Barry County. All other SW MI counties had population loss. Branch County (home of Battle Creek) lost the most - 3.9%, since 2010. According to the article, the entire region defined as SW MI added 7,448 residents since 2010 (0.8% increase).


Image Source: MLive
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  #77  
Old Posted Jun 3, 2017, 8:12 PM
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Kalamazoo is about to add yet another drinking establishment to its growing arsenal of downtown watering holes. The new venue, called "The Stamped Robin" will be located at 128 Portage Street, in the former location of the "Spirit of Kalamazoo" store, which recently relocated to the Kalamazoo Mall. This new venue will offer rotating specialty cocktails and wine selections, along with lighter food options. It is expected to seat 55 to 85 patrons, including outdoor seating on a small patio.

Downtown wine, cocktail lounge's liquor license gets Kalamazoo OK
By Malachi Barrett | MLive
June 02, 2017

Considering Kalamazoo's growing reputation as a regional hub for breweries, brew pubs, wine tasting rooms, and the like, you may think that the market for this type of lounge is saturated. But I think the owners have perceived a vacant niche in the market that, to-date, has been 'un-tapped'. According to the article,

Quote:
"The Stamped Robin" would offer an intimate experience, with classic music played from vinyl recordings and an aperitif menu that features a comprehensive wine and cocktail list. Owners Emily Deering and Matt Caruso want to fill a vacancy in wine and craft cocktail offerings in the city of Kalamazoo. While patrons will enjoy a larger meal elsewhere, The Stamped Robin would provide an opportunity to relax with an alcoholic drink before or after the main course.
The owners have already received liquor license approval from the Kalamazoo City Commission, and, pending approval at the state level, expect to be open sometime this summer. It will be housed at the far left of the three story building, close to the parking deck, in the photo below (picture by me):

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  #78  
Old Posted Jun 3, 2017, 8:55 PM
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Also, I took some construction progress photos this weekend for "The Exchange". You can link to them here.
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  #79  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2017, 2:52 AM
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I drove by Trade Centre III on the way home tonight. There's nothing really remarkable about this building, but it is moving along quickly. The unitized wall segments are almost all up, and expect the glazing to begin shortly. You can also see a bit of the mechanical work and metal stud partitions going in.













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  #80  
Old Posted Jun 7, 2017, 6:23 PM
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The Kalamazoo County Health Department is moving forward with its plans to consolidate services and move into a site at the former Allied Paper Mill. The three story, 45,000 SF building once housed the Illinois Envelope Co, and it is about the only thing that remains from the site's paper-making days, apart from 70 acres of contaminated soil. Cost of renovation & addition is estimated at $15.7 million, with move-in scheduled for early 2018.

Health department to move into new building by spring 2018
By Malachi Barrett | MLive
June 06, 2017


Image Source: MLive


Image Source: Google Maps


Image Source: MLive
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