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  #301  
Old Posted Jul 11, 2018, 4:31 PM
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Originally Posted by LMich View Post
I think we've reached a point in a lot of these cities where attracting residents for "downtown amenities/living" instead of attracting downtown jobs to lure residents has kind of diminishing returns; we've kind of maxed out the "people who want to live downtown because of the cool shops/parks" category of potential downtown residents.

Yes. It's the main failure from a state policy perspective, too. Or at least it was with the 'placemaking' programs. I was initially skeptical when the community development programs moved from MSHDA to MEDC, but now I'm optimistic. I've spent enough time in the great urban centers on the west coast to understand that if there are the right jobs, then people will come. And urbanism is en vogue right now, hopefully for good, but who knows. It's important have the middle and high density housing typologies many Michigan downtowns are so sorely lacking, and the amenities, but you need to have the jobs. And the schools. Schools are also where so many communities fail badly. Without good schools, you're going to get the young professional set and perhaps a couple empty nesters, but you're not winning unless you're getting the people with kids. End of story.
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  #302  
Old Posted Jul 12, 2018, 3:25 AM
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...As for residential development, I guess I also overstated the amount of it. But what I was getting at is that relative to commercial development in say the last 15-20 years, that most development downtown - and I was talking mainly conversions into lofts and such - has been more residential than commercial, right?
I would agree. I don't know the dollars and cents comparison for residential vs. commercial investment in this city over the past decade, but in terms of visible conversions and remodeling especially, I'd guess that residential is winning out, to the point that semi-vacant, downtown commercial structures (thinking Mall Plaza, Corporation Hall, 100 block of E Michigan Ave.) have all had their above-ground floors converted into residential lofts and apartments.

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...It just seems to me that it'd be easier for Kalamazoo to try and land some bigger downtown employers to spur larger-scale residential developers, because it seems doing is it the other way around hasn't been working. But this is true of most of Michigan's cities. I think we've reached a point in a lot of these cities where attracting residents for "downtown amenities/living" instead of attracting downtown jobs to lure residents has kind of diminishing returns; we've kind of maxed out the "people who want to live downtown because of the cool shops/parks" category of potential downtown residents.
I concur. The question in Kalamazoo that I hear all the time is, housing for who? There are very strong racial and socio-economic divisions here, and for a city so small, I think local government and developers alike have struggled to navigate the dynamics and historical divides in the city when it comes to providing new housing. I also think a lot of businesses steer clear of downtown because of the complexities involved with developing something new (various overlay districts, taxes, land acquisition, parking challenges, etc. etc.). That's pretty much a challenge in any urban center, but in a region where rural land land is available just a few miles away from the city center (and is still quite cheap and less regulated), many businesses opt for staying outside the core. Maybe The Exchange will set a good precedent for the coming years in attracting more businesses with substantial employment #s to downtown.

One thing's for sure - if the number of folks who can currently claim live / work status in downtown Kalamazoo is less than 1/2 a percent of the entire city population, yet recent studies say the downtown is ready to support another 2,000 - 3,000 units of housing, something isn't adding up...

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Originally Posted by subterranean View Post
Yes. It's the main failure from a state policy perspective, too. Or at least it was with the 'placemaking' programs. I was initially skeptical when the community development programs moved from MSHDA to MEDC, but now I'm optimistic. I've spent enough time in the great urban centers on the west coast to understand that if there are the right jobs, then people will come. And urbanism is en vogue right now, hopefully for good, but who knows. It's important have the middle and high density housing typologies many Michigan downtowns are so sorely lacking, and the amenities, but you need to have the jobs. And the schools. Schools are also where so many communities fail badly. Without good schools, you're going to get the young professional set and perhaps a couple empty nesters, but you're not winning unless you're getting the people with kids. End of story.
Well put. No doubt that education is a key factor. Kalamazoo has The Promise (guaranteeing discounted or free in-state college tuition to those enrolled at Kalamazoo Public Schools), which definitely helps, but its public schools need work. They are not considered as strong as many surrounding communities. Portage Public Schools, Mattawan Consolidated Schools, and Gull Lake Community Schools all rank highly in the state, and these are communities that are all growing faster than Kalamazoo proper, by at least double the rate. And I think business is growing faster in these outlying communities too.
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  #303  
Old Posted Jul 12, 2018, 4:46 PM
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Kalamazoo and Kent County take first and second place, respectively, when it comes to beer production that is made and sold in the state. I'm not surprised about the two front runners, but I was vaguely curious which of the two counties produced more barrels. Kalamazoo is ahead by a long shot, 196,398 barrels annually in 2017, (driven heavily by Bell's 95% of production) vs. the 135,265 barrels in Kent County, and a mere 36,628 barrels in Antrim County (3rd place). Oakland County came in 4th with 34,670 barrels produced.

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Michigan counties ranked by beer production
Julie Mack | MLive
July 12, 2018

With more than 300 microbreweries and brewpubs across Michigan, 60 of Michigan's 83 counties had businesses that produced beer in 2017, according to data from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Those businesses produced about 600,000 barrels of beer sold within the state, the data shows. LARA tracks beer production through collection of the state's beer tax. Below is a ranking of Michigan counties based on LARA's 2017 data for beer produced and sold within the state...
Here's to Kalamazoo, the true beer capital of Michigan
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  #304  
Old Posted Jul 13, 2018, 12:54 AM
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Well well well...this is pretty interesting. Some new design renderings were released today for the 7-story, mixed-use Catalyst Development Co. project, planned for Lot 9. Also, the City still has not agreed to the sale of the property. The vote for that happens this Monday. But a lot of equipment is already sitting on site waiting to go, so presumably this is a done deal.

Quote:
New designs revealed for mixed-use, Lot 9 project near Arcadia Creek Festival Place
Newschannel 3 Staff | WWMT
July 12, 2018

New design images were released Thursday as a team of developers moves closer to creating a $70 million mixed-use building across from the Arcadia Creek Festival Place in downtown Kalamazoo. Catalyst Development Co. LLC. presented the new designs during the city of Kalamazoo’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority meeting.

The seven-story, 290,000 building – featuring retail, office and residential space – will be built in a parking lot at the southwest corner of North Edwards and Waters Street. The city currently owns the lot, and the Kalamazoo City Commission on Monday is expected for vote on the sale of the lot to the developer...
It doesn't sound like the actual guts of the thing changed, just the overall aesthetics. And I'd say for the better. The new renderings -






Source: WWMT | Courtesy Catalyst Development Co.

Compared to before -





Ironically, it's actually kinda starting to look a little more like Tower Pinkster's original design for The Exchange, back when it was a planned 8 stories high around 2011, before Byce took over -


Source: Tower Pinkster
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  #305  
Old Posted Jul 13, 2018, 9:05 PM
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Hmmm, I like the angles on the older version, but they did better with the roof in the newer one.
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  #306  
Old Posted Jul 18, 2018, 10:43 PM
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Hmmm, I like the angles on the older version, but they did better with the roof in the newer one.
I like the treatment of the balconies and fenestration better now. It definitely seems more fitting for the area. And the sale of Lot 9 was approved by the city on Monday, so hopefully we'll see this Catalyst building break ground soon now (update - from a separate article, groundbreaking now slated for Monday, 7/23) I noticed a small crew on site evaluating an existing transformer today.

Quote:
Kalamazoo City Commission approves sale of Lot 9 for redevelopment
WWMT | Newchannel 3
July 16, 2018

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The Kalamazoo City Commission approved the plans for the area known as Lot 9. Commissioners approved the sale of land for the Catalyst Development project at the corner of Edwards Street and Water Street. New design images were released on Thursday as developers move closer to creating a $70-million, seven-story mixed-use building across from the Arcadia Creek Festival site in downtown Kalamazoo...
And Kalamazoo County finally approved a new animal shelter, estimated to cost $5 million. This article says construction could start in a few weeks - I don't know what the final design will actually look like though.

Quote:
Kalamazoo County Says Yes to Long-Awaited Animal Shelter
Sehvilla Mann | WMUK
July 18, 2018

Years after the idea first came before the Board, Kalamazoo County commissioners have voted to build a $5 million new animal shelter. Supporters of the overhaul, including Kalamazoo County Animal Services and Enforcement Director Steve Lawrence have long criticized the existing building...construction of the shelter will begin within the next two weeks...
The Kalamazoo Humane Society is also working to build a new shelter. They announced a fundraising campaign in June.

Last edited by deja vu; Jul 18, 2018 at 11:04 PM.
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  #307  
Old Posted Jul 18, 2018, 10:58 PM
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This is kind of interesting. I didn't know this existed at WMU. Hopefully they will collaborate with the many architecture firms and ongoing construction in the area -

Quote:
Multimillion-dollar research center addresses construction challenges
Jean Barron | WMU News
July 17, 2018

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—An interdisciplinary group of Western Michigan University researchers is busily studying new and creative ways to build better in an age of climate change and other global challenges facing the construction industry. Their activities are being funded by grants from WMU's Georgeau Construction Research Center, which was established in 2016 through a $5 million gift from Phil Georgeau of Kalamazoo and his late wife, Betty...

In addition, construction has begun on a $1 million lab that will open this fall in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences annex near the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport. The state-of-the-art laboratory facility will allow researchers to evaluate roofing system designs under extreme wind loads as well as study the properties of large-scale structural elements and samples under different loading conditions, including seismic loads...
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  #308  
Old Posted Jul 25, 2018, 11:14 PM
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120 apartments planned at long-vacant site along Kalamazoo River

By Malachi Barrett, MLive.com

July 25, 2018

KALAMAZOO, MI -- Developers are planning to breathe new life into a long-vacant site near the west bank of the Kalamazoo River.

East Lansing-based River Caddis Development Corp. responded to a city request for a mixed-use project at 508 Harrison St., just east of downtown Kalamazoo. It's working with Kalamazoo's Brownfield Redevelopment Authority on a plan to start building 120 residential units and 12,500 square feet of commercial space in 2019.
The components:

Quote:
Plans call for a 7,500-square-foot commercial building with retail sales and services to accommodate residential property developments, including leasing office space, fitness amenities and other commercial uses.

Three residential buildings would be three stories tall. Two would have 42 units and the third would have 30 units.

A fifth building would have ground-level office space and six town house apartments on the second floor.

A second phase of construction would add 5,000 square feet of leasable space in a sixth building.
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  #309  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2018, 2:22 AM
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^ That's great news. I have long been wondering what progress was being made, if any, on some of these empty 'River's Edge' sites. The BRA issued an RFP for this site and a few others last year and then...nothing for a long while. And now this. Here's hoping that it pans out. It sounds like the right level of density, and a project that could catalyze more projects in the district.

Some updates from today:

The Exchange - up to the tenth floor now -










Bronson / Former Kalamazoo Gazette - this is the slowest-moving project that I've ever seen downtown - work is happening, but at a snail's pace -


251 E Lovell - all that remains


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  #310  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2018, 3:22 AM
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We're getting a rendering now for Pfizer's new processing facility planned for its Portage complex. This will be adjacent to the new cold-storage facility (barely visible in the background). It is expected to generate up to 450 new jobs, with construction completed in 2021 and with full operation in 2024.


Source: Crain's Detroit Business

It kinda has an airport-terminal vibe to it. Pretty funky for the suburbs.

Quote:
Pfizer plans $465 million plant, 450 new jobs in Kalamazoo County
Kurt Nagl | Crain's Detroit Business
July 24, 2018

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. is planning to invest $465 million and create 450 jobs for a new plant in Kalamazoo County. The New York City-based company is developing a 400,000-square-foot sterile drug manufacturing facility in the city of Portage in response to new regulations by the Food and Drug Administration, according to a news release from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. The new plant, to be called the Modular Aseptic Processing facility, will be the first of its kind for Pfizer...
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  #311  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2018, 3:35 AM
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That is an exceptional design for an industrial/processing/light industrial facility, way more than I was expecting. Heck, that would be a nice design for its usage anywhere in the country.
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  #312  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2018, 3:48 AM
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That is an exceptional design for an industrial/processing/light industrial facility, way more than I was expecting. Heck, that would be a nice design for its usage anywhere in the country.
Let's hope it stays this way. That orange-yellow color looks to me like a unitized brick or panel system; a play off of the light-colored brick found on most of the other buildings. It helps break up what would otherwise be a monotonous glass curtain wall. I'm wondering who the Architect is.

And now that I look closer, this almost looks like it's on the other side of Portage Road, opposite side to the rest of the facility. Earlier news articles made it sound like it would be on the same side of the road as everything else. Maybe it's just the perspective, but it seems like too tight a squeeze to be right next to the cold storage facility.

This also looks vaguely like an arena.
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  #313  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2018, 5:08 AM
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I really like the redesign of the Lot 9 project. Much better than the original design.

The Pfizer building definitely looks like an airport terminal or arena of some sort. Infinitely better than the tasteless designs of many buildings of its type. I love seeing Michigan's smaller cities getting some nice modern construction!
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  #314  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2018, 4:56 PM
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Here's another article on the Pfizer expansion, including a photo of a 3D-printed model of their campus, with the new sterile processing facility shown (in the foreground). It definitely will adjoining the existing structure, and not be across the street. There's a neat story about that 3D model by the way, which was printed in 114 seperate prints, over 1,300+ hours, through a collaboration with KVCC.

Quote:
Pfizer increases its commitment to region with expansion worth nearly $500 million
Kathy Jennings | Second Wave Media
July 26, 2018

One final piece needed to be put into place before Pfizer could proceed with construction of a 400,000-square-foot, multi-story production center where sterile injectable medicines will be made. That piece went into place Tuesday, July 24 when the Michigan Economic Development Corp. decided the pharmaceutical maker would be the first to receive incentives through the Good Jobs for Michigan program.

State, local, and company officials gathered at Pfizer’s Kalamazoo-Portage campus to announce the tax incentive valued at $10.5 million for up to 10 years. To receive the tax break Pfizer has to come through with new jobs with an annual wage that is equal to 125 percent of the regional average wage. It is anticipated that 140 new jobs will be created in the next two years and a total of 450 over the next six years. The jobs are expected to pay from $70,000 to $93,000 annually...

Source: Kathy Jennings | Second Wave Media
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  #315  
Old Posted Jul 27, 2018, 3:06 AM
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This is very preliminary, but Firekeepers Casino (near Battle Creek) could be getting a second hotel tower. The current hotel is 8 stories and has about 240 rooms. Apparently those rooms had an occupancy rate of greater than 95% last year.

Quote:
Firekeepers announces hotel expansion in Battle Creek
Wood TV 8
July 23, 2018

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — One of West Michigan’s largest casinos is getting even bigger. Firekeepers Casino in Battle Creek announced Monday it’s building a second hotel tower on casino grounds. The original hotel tower consists of 243 rooms which Firekeepers says has had an occupancy rate above 95 percent for the past year.

“We need more hotel rooms. We have a great demand from guests well beyond our normal attraction audience — people who come from 50, 75, 100, 150 miles to visit Battle Creek...
I like the design for the first tower. It would be neat if the second one garnered even more presence along I-94.


Existing Firekeepers Hotel Tower, photo courtesy NHPBI
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  #316  
Old Posted Aug 2, 2018, 9:05 PM
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The Catalyst development started coming alive earlier this week, and today marks the first day of real significant activity since the pile drill showed up. The perimeter fence was extended on Monday / Tuesday, and today the entire lot was milled and cleared. We can expect to see the pile borer start moving about the site very soon I think. It is currently parked out of site to the left of these images.

As an added bonus, you can see the Kalamazoo Ribfest ramping up in the distance.





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  #317  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2018, 11:46 PM
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Lip Sync Challenge video with Kalamazoo Public Safety. Actually not half bad, and bonus footage of the skyline at the very end.

Video Link
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  #318  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2018, 5:25 PM
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Happening now: groundbreaking ceremony for the Catalyst / Lot 9 development project.



Update: The local media caught up:

Quote:
Downtown development, new home of Kalamazoo Promise, breaks ground
Winter Keefer | MLive
August 9, 2018
This will be an incredible transformation for this part of downtown. The work is expected to be complete by June 2020 - less than 2 years. It sounds like it is being referred to as 180 East Water Street.

Last edited by deja vu; Aug 10, 2018 at 1:26 AM.
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  #319  
Old Posted Aug 10, 2018, 1:46 AM
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The Midtown Fresh grocery story, in the former Harding's - south of downtown, had its soft opening yesterday, and it looks good. Reminds me a bit of a Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. There's a cafe, a full kitchen with two full-time chefs, and curbside pickup. Eventually there will be a pharmacy and an eat-in dining area. This is an important addition for a community near the downtown core.

Quote:
New Kalamazoo grocery store fills void in the community
Jessica Wheeler | WWMT Newschannel 3
August 9, 2018

It's been years in the making, and now a much-needed Kalamazoo grocery store is finally open. Newschannel 3's Jessica Wheeler visited the new Midtown Fresh Market for a sneak peek. Midtown Fresh opened on Monday and while they're still putting the finishing touches on everything, the store is already filling the need in what had become a food desert with no grocery store within walking distance for so many people in Kalamazoo...
Quote:
Grocery returns to Kalamazoo neighborhood as Midtown Fresh opens
By Brad Devereaux | MLive
August 9, 2018

KALAMAZOO, MI -- After extensive renovation, a spot in the heart of the city is once again the home of a grocery store. Midtown Fresh opened Wednesday, Aug. 8, at 1693 South Westnedge in Kalamazoo, offering groceries as well as cooked food and bakery items, local produce, sushi, wine, craft beer, and more, in about a 30,000-square-foot selling space. The community response has been great, Store Director Paul Petros said, and he's already working to bring more products to the store that customers requested...











Source: MLive | Joel Bissel
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  #320  
Old Posted Aug 10, 2018, 1:00 PM
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I don't know how I didn't realize Kalamazoo Promise was going to be one of the anchor tenants of Catalyst.

Midtown Fresh looks great. Is this an independent or local company? It's really great to see these places open up in the city. Lansing's then-rep and current mayor sponsored a bill last year that passed that requires requires the Michigan Strategic fund to set aside 5% of its subsidies through its Community Revitalization Program for the attraction of urban/downtown grocery stores. So I hope we see more of these. It's little things like this that can really make the most difference.
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