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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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Originally Posted by LMich View Post
...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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Originally Posted by LMich View Post
...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.

Quote:
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 Yesterday, 10:43 PM
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Originally Posted by LMich View Post
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; Yesterday at 11:04 PM.
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  #307  
Old Posted Yesterday, 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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