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  #181  
Old Posted Dec 8, 2017, 4:30 PM
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Edit: The historic building pictured below was known as the Browne Block / Peck Building, and was situated along S. Burdick and E. South Streets, not Lovell St. It had an interesting history - it was notably financed by a woman developer, Ella Drake Browne, granddaughter of Benjamin Drake, one of the founders of the city, and step-granddaughter of Henry Brees, a local investor.

It was built in the 19-oughts by a prominent local contractor, Henry Vander Horst, when he was just 31 years of age. The block featured a base-shaft-capital design that was so common at the time. The inheritance that Ella used to fund it led to a court case that went all the way up to the Michigan Supreme Court - some claimed that she obtained the inhereitance money illegally. But she fought for it and managed to obtain a 'not guilty' verdict and keep the funds, only to sell the building shortly after its completion to Charles Peck, a local capitalist, who renamed the building for himself.

Walgreens occupied the ground floor for over 30 years. Many other retail and service businesses rented space there at one time or another. It was ultimately razed in 1975 when Fidelity Bank purchased it with the intent of constructing a new building (the lovely little POS 1970s gem that sits there today).

(All of the above info was gleaned from Kalamazoo Lost & Found, Houghton / O'Connor)

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Originally Posted by deja vu View Post
3. A block formerly housing Walgreens (the name of the building escapes me), situated along S. Burdick and Lovell St. (today's Kalamazoo Mall):



It was demolished to make way for a parking deck (background) and this building in the foreground that houses an insurance agency today. Sharon Ferraro, Kalamazoo's Historic Preservation Coordinator, is holding the historic photo:


Source: MLive
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  #182  
Old Posted Dec 9, 2017, 5:40 PM
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Well, after being on the EPA's National Priority List since 1990, the massive Allied Paper, Inc. / Portage Creek / Kalamazoo River Superfund Site has just been granted...National Priority Status.

The difference seems to be in new language that identifies the site, along with 20 other national superfund sites, to receive "immediate and intense attention" due to environmental and health concerns. Allusions are made here that not enough progress has been made quickly enough. No word on if this means there will actually be more funding for the cleanup efforts. Much work has already happened in several phases along this 80 mile stretch of Kalamazoo River and surrounding banks, tributaries, etc.

Quote:
Kalamazoo River Superfund cleanup gets priority status by EPA
By John Tunison | MLive
December 8, 2017

KALAMAZOO, MI -- The decades-old contamination cleanup plan for the Kalamazoo River is getting priority status by the Environmental Protection Agency, federal officials say...

...The Kalamazoo area Superfund site -- listed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency National Priorities List in 1990 -- is described as follows: "PCB-contaminated soil and sediment in landfills, paper mill properties, about 80 miles of the Kalamazoo River, adjacent riverbanks and contiguous floodplains, as well as a 3-mile stretch of Portage Creek.."

"...By elevating these sites we are sending a message that EPA is, in fact, restoring its Superfund program to its rightful place at the center of the Agency's mission," EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said...
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  #183  
Old Posted Dec 15, 2017, 11:31 AM
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deja vu,

What are your thoughts on this story?

Quote:

Kalamazoo Gazette

Growing frustration over freight train delays spurs talk with railroad

By Brad Devereaux | MLive.com

December 13, 2017

KALAMAZOO, MI - As Tim Hopkins sat idling in his taxicab, blocked by a freight train and going nowhere fast, railroad and city officials sat inside a building a block away talking about train delays.

"We're trying to get (passengers) to their appointments, and there we sit," the driver for Bronco Express taxi service said. "It's frustrating."

The problem is especially bad downtown, said Hopkins, who on this day was stuck in neutral at a train crossing on Stockbridge Avenue on the near south side. After about 15 minutes, he put his cab in gear and made a U-turn, forced to take a different route to pick up his fare.

Waiting at railroad crossings is a fact of life for drivers in downtown Kalamazoo. Delays from slow-moving and sometimes stopped freight trains seem to be getting more frequent and lasting longer, but no one really knows to what extent.
Where I live, our major east-west state highway through the downtown was grade seperated years and years ago, but we do have this problem at the at-grade crossings downtown. The good thing for us is that the line around our downtown is very lightly used, these days.

It looks like Kalamazoo was looking at grade seperation back in 1981:



But it seems now the talk is about trying to schedule trains duing less busy times of days for motorists and pedestrians. Apparently, it's the north-south Grand Elk line (and not the Amtrak Michigan Line) which is giving motorists headaches.
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  #184  
Old Posted Dec 15, 2017, 4:39 PM
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^ I think it is one of the biggest unsolved issues with regards to the downtown infrastructure design (or lack thereof). My one comment to the City on the recently-approved masterplan earlier this year was disappointment that they did not address the topic, even after it was raised in multiple community forums. I understand it is a complex issue, with multiple stakeholders involved (City Officials, MDOT, the Grand Elk RR, local businesses). But the current system is not sustainable. I was surprised to learn that there is actually a local ordinance on the books, limiting the amount of time that a train can block a road. I have never seen this enforced.

When Grand Elk took over operations of these tracks in 2009, they started bringing in more cargo traffic from the east (Jackson). Train traffic has been steadily growing, which is a good sign of the local economy. I for one don't think the city would be better off without its trains (there are some that do). The problem is that there is no way for trains coming into the city from the east to head directly north, toward Grand Rapids. To go north, trains must first go south to a switch in the Edison neighborhood, stop, transfer tracks, then head north. The opposite is also true (south-bound trains that want to head east). This all happens along tracks that intersect the two major east-west roadways through downtown.

The overpass / underpass solution is not my favorite, and I understand why a vote for it failed in the 80's. If it had been built, it would have really put a chokehold on any of the new development that has since happened on the east side / River's Edge district. If it was proposed again today, I'd guess that it would fail again. Some have suggested that an easier solution would be to construct a new switch that allows trains from the east to go directly north. I think the area of this hypothetical new switch would roughly be bounded by Porter St, Ransom St, and Walbridge St. There's not a lot there currently. It's a compelling idea to me; I don't know if it's ever been officially discussed with Grand Elk. Funding would need to be worked out, and land acquisition, zoning, etc.

I don't think the idea to run all / most of the trains at off-peak hours is very practical either. Because cargo traffic has grown, there are multiple major train crossings during day (maybe 5-6 on average). They also already run trains at night. I live right near the tracks, and hear them multiple times nearly every night. I don't think the existing Grand Elk rail yard has the resources, physical space, or the will to try and run a lot more of their trains at night / off-peak hours. At best, this is a Band-Aid.

As an aside, I work in a building just a few blocks west of the Michigan Ave. at-grade RR crossing. Fortunately I can usually come up with a commute that circumvents the delays. But on occasion I have been caught in the gridlock, and when that happens, I just park on the street, walk to work, and move my car later, after the train has cleared. Most locals know ways to get around the stopped trains, the problem is for visitors / those just passing through, and for the times when you get caught unawares and are stuck in a middle lane of stopped traffic with no escape. Because of the way Michigan Ave. bends at Portage St. it is sometimes hard to know that there is a train block ahead until it is too late, because sight lines are blocked.

I've watched the several hours-long delays from my work window and it is no joke. A city of this caliber that is trying to grow needs a better solution. Local businesses do take advantage of it though by coming outside and selling food / refreshments from car to car when the delays hit. So in a weird way, the train delays have actually created their own micro-economy of sorts.

Last edited by deja vu; Dec 16, 2017 at 5:19 AM.
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  #185  
Old Posted Dec 16, 2017, 4:21 PM
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I noticed this week that floor plans were posted on the window of 320 Michigan Ave. showing the layout of four new apartments on the second and third floors. This was originally the Hotel Holt. It has some neat glazed terra-cotta detailing, and is the only facade of its kind left in downtown. Tovich LLC is the owner, Cornerstone Construction the GC. The Architect is Howard L Overbeek (Portage). The layout of the units actually looks pretty neat - I like that there will be a small atrium space that takes advantage of an existing skylight. Units 201 and 301 actually are quite large, with 3-bedrooms ea. The other two are a single-bedroom and a 2-bedroom. There will be a new elevator and exterior decks on the back side. I wonder what these units will go for?

The first floor will be commercial retail space, but I can't figure out what will be going in there. It was mostly recently the home of Alfred E. Bike. I'm wondering if it might be Rocket Fizz, a retro-style sod pop and candy shop that announced earlier this year it was opening a new location downtown. That was supposed to be at 119 Michigan Ave (between a PNC and new Biggby Coffee) and for some reason did not pan out. I think Biggby might be expanding their dining area into this storefront now? The Rocket Fizz Facebook Page just says that "We are still working on finalizing a lease and have our eye on a pretty darn neat location in downtown K'zoo."

Second Floor:


Third Floor:


This is the exterior (photos from a few days prior):






The Historic District Commission application from a year ago has more info, including some existing photos:





In the same Nov 2016 HDC Agenda Packet, I noticed this project which I hadn't heard of, proposed for 827 South Westnedge. A new commercial development called Old Central Center, consisting of a single story with 3-4 storefronts parallel to an existing laundromat and Ranney Street. Presumably the name comes from the fact that it's one block away from the old Kalamazoo Central High School. It's nothing phenomenal, but would be better than a surface lot in the small, walkable commercial district at Vine and Westnedge. I'm not crazy about the fact that the storefronts all face south, towards the parking lot, and not north, towards Ranney. The north elevation is essentially a blank wall and the back of the structure. The HDC may have rejected it based on that fact alone, I will do some research.



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  #186  
Old Posted Dec 16, 2017, 6:33 PM
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Development news has been very slow / quiet lately for Arcadia Commons West - the barren, multi-block undeveloped area west of downtown that the city has been trying to revitalize for decades. I thought I read somewhere that there would be new concepts presented Fall of this year, but I have seen nothing. I think the fact that the land is publicly owned has really caused things to drag. I'm curious if there's anyone out there reading this that knows more on the status of things.

Meanwhile, I've been looking back at the earlier proposal by RISE Real Estate, the Georgia-based developer that partnered with Ann Arbor-based Architect Lord Aeck Sargent to pitch a plan to the City in Summer 2015. They were up against two local developers that partnered together, AVB & Hinman (a third developer, Cleveland-based Fairmont Properties, withdrew early on). RISE had a much better-looking proposal than AVB / Hinman, largely residential in nature, with 300 - 325 units, a few restaurants & retailers, and a promenade. 3-4 story buildings with continuous street walls reflected new urbanist vibes. AVB / Hinman's proposal was focused more on finding a sole commercial anchor tenant and then determining what sorts of development would happen around it (reminiscent of the Costco-anchored Corner @ Drake development). RISE was selected in 2015 over AVB / Hinman, but later pulled out for reasons unknown, but probably related to financing challenges.

Here's some concept images still on Lord Aeck Sargent's website:








And as a reminder, here's the site master plan as it stands today (presented earlier this year). The biggest difference is that it shows the county's proposed courthouse
occupying the block that is south of the County Mental Health building. In the Lord Aeck Sargent plan, the potential courthouse site was shown one block east of this:

Source: WoodTV

Some may not know that prior to all of this, a sports arena / event center idea was pitched in 2009, which would have moved the minor-league hockey team Kalamazoo Wings downtown. But this was officially dead by 2012:

Source: MLive

I hope there's some action soon on this, and that whatever is proposed is at least as dense as the RISE / Lord Aeck Sargent plan of 2015.
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  #187  
Old Posted Dec 17, 2017, 12:16 PM
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You jogged my memory about something I'd seen somewhere else. This is the connecting track you're talking about that would solve some of this. That track is in blue, the existing track is crossed out in red, and they'd use the yellow track:

http://railroadfan.com/phpbb/downloa...2096&mode=view

I believe despite being a north-south railroad, that Grand Elk has to use part of the Amtrak Michigan Line to get to their yard in the east. This would eliminate a lot of turn-arounds that block the state highways. The only problem is that there are businesses in this area two that would be effected. Anyway, another solution is this one:

http://railroadfan.com/phpbb/downloa...2097&mode=view

Short of a hugely expensive project that would take the line under or over the streets, that's aout as good as it's going to get, but it still seems like a significant improvement. I guess it depends on whether the backs up are mostly Grand Elk trains trying to get to the yard east of the river, or if the problem is the through-line further west.
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  #188  
Old Posted Dec 17, 2017, 3:15 PM
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^ Good find. Yes, the first one illustrates what I was describing. Both of those proposals would help the current situation, the first one more than the second I think.
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  #189  
Old Posted Dec 19, 2017, 2:17 AM
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This is a teeny bit interesting. The City has had a desire to redevelop their public parking lot #9 (in the haymarket district, behind the Main Street East Building) for some time now. Today, out of the blue, a crew was doing soil boring tests in the parking lot, which to me can only mean that something preliminary must be in the works:



From Downtown Kalamazoo Inc.'s website:

Quote:
Maximizing the use of land downtown is paramount as we undertake the implementation of the Downtown Comprehensive Plan. A significant amount of land downtown is vacant or covered by parking lots. Redeveloping this underutilized property for private housing, mixed use or parking ramps has to be one of the key objectives to increasing tax base. The Haymarket Parking Lot #9 located at E. Water St. and Edwards St. is Central City Parking’s most productive parking facility from a demand standpoint. It also offers excellent growth potential due to its central location and proximity to other recent redevelopment projects since 2000.

Redevelopment of the 2 acre parking lot for mixed use housing, retail and offices has been proposed in the past. A critical element of any plan for the site will be the incorporation of a multi-story parking ramp within the development. DKI and the city must continue to work on a strategy in partnership with a developer that supports future parking and shares the vision for this property.
Apart from the parcel on the corner of Edwards and Michigan Ave. (former Wendy's location) and Arcadia Commons West, I've thought for a while that this has to be about the primest downtown real estate left to be developed.

Last edited by deja vu; Dec 19, 2017 at 3:13 AM.
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  #190  
Old Posted Dec 19, 2017, 3:46 AM
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I was trying to find if there was a construction cam for The Exchange and instead I found a new website that is up and running but still under construction. This looks like the new official site and I'm guessing they will change the url once the content is further along.

http://1738.bfhosting1.com/

There are some short time lapse videos, but only through July of this year. There's a handy little directory of all the floor plans, and additional exterior renderings that I had not yet seen. Also, it indicates that pricing for the 133 apartment units will be released in summer 2018.














Source: The Exchange Site
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  #191  
Old Posted Dec 24, 2017, 8:00 PM
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Merry Christmas from Kalamazoo!

Christmas on the Kalamazoo Mall, looking north from South Street (undated):


Kalamazoo Mall, December 4, 1965. Hard to believe it was ever this busy:

Source: MLive (Kalamazoo Gazette file, courtesy WMU archives)
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  #192  
Old Posted Dec 26, 2017, 7:30 PM
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This article gives a good synopsis of the relative strength of SW MI's economy and building boom, that seems in all likelihood to continue into the new year. It focuses mostly on GR's boom, but gives a nod to Kalamazoo's mini-boom as well:

Quote:
Large-scale development to continue in 2018
By Nick Manes | MiBiz
December 24, 2017

...Development opportunities also extend south to the Kalamazoo area, where new retail and residential options continue popping up. Andrew Haan, president of Downtown Kalamazoo Inc., points to the ongoing construction of The Exchange project, a $52.7 million, 15-story office and residential tower set to open in 2019 along West Michigan Avenue. Overall, Haan said he expects at least 500 new housing units in the downtown Kalamazoo area over the next couple of years.

“We’ll have some major changes to the skyline in the next few months, and that will send a message to the market,” Haan said. “It shows there’s investor confidence from some major developers and that our lenders are comfortable with the market. We’re just catching up to a couple other communities (around the state) that have been going full bore for a couple of years..."
I'm interested in where the 500 new residential units figure is coming from. The Exchange would be the largest contributor, contributing 133. Phase 2 of The Foundry will add some unknown amount of residential. Maybe he is also counting possible additions to the housing market through the Arcadia Commons West proposal.
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  #193  
Old Posted Dec 26, 2017, 8:03 PM
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Fort Custer Training Center, in Augusta MI (off of I-94 between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek), remains on the short list of three possible sites under consideration for a new anti-ballistic missile interceptor facility. The Secretary of Defense is required by legislation to to pick one of these three nominated sites by Spring of 2018. Whichever site 'wins' is effectively guaranteed some new well-paying jobs and ample construction employment for the foreseeable future. The other two sites are Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center in Ohio, and Fort Drum in New York.

Quote:
Competition for Missile base heating up
John McNeil | VWKZO
December 26, 2017

BATTLE CREEK/KALAMAZOO (WKZO AM/FM) -- Every member of the Michigan Congressional Delegation, even Justin Amash, has signed a letter to the Director of the Missile Defense Agency, pressing their support for locating an anti-ballistic missile base at Fort Custer. It follows passage of legislation by Congress requiring the Secretary of Defense to pick one of three nominated sites for the base by this spring. It also follows over four-billion in funding for new anti-ballistic missiles, which was included in the temporary budget deal signed by the President last week...
In other news, here's a nice nod to Kalamazoo's largely successful college promise program. Established in 2005, the Kalamazoo Promise is the first free college tuition program of its kind in the country, and one which many other states and cities around the country have since studied as a model for their own college programs:

Quote:
Can college 'promise' programs deliver?
Laura Perna, Edward J. Smith, Elaine W. Leigh
The Conversation, via The Associated Press
December 15, 2017

...Place-based scholarship programs are modeled after the Kalamazoo Promise, created in 2005, and include other relatively long-standing initiatives like the El Dorado Promise and the Pittsburgh Promise. The Kalamazoo Promise, in particular, has been shown to increase college participation and degree attainment. But just because Kalamazoo achieved these results doesn't mean other programs will. Unlike some other programs, the Kalamazoo Promise provides a generous financial award, allows students to use that award at many two-year and four-year colleges and universities and is designed to build a college-going culture that starts in kindergarten. Other programs may not have all those things...

Last edited by deja vu; Dec 26, 2017 at 9:05 PM.
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  #194  
Old Posted Dec 28, 2017, 3:49 PM
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I finally got around to reading those articles you linked to about the development along Arboretum Parkway. I find most of the Arcadia residents' concerns pretty Nimbyish. What I was getting from them was just your basic tone of "We don't want anything to change."

Honestly, looking at the West Side Area Plan, the city has been pretty consistent in following it. Walden Woods looks pretty much at the kind of density the plan envisions the site to be. It literally calls for low-density residential with open space, which is exactly what Walden Woods is. Parkway Flats is a change of plans, as the plan envisioned this area as commercial space (even some big-box stuff), but you'd actually think the change would be something they'd like given that big-box stuff would have likely generated more (and faster) through-traffic on the parkway than something like Parkway Flats.

In fact, if there is anything wrong with the planning in the area is that it should have allowed more higher density residential to save even more of the open space. Walden Woods goes according to the plans, but it's kind of a suburban waste of perfectly space. So the NIMBYs down in Arcadia are actually hurting themselves with their demands in the end.

They even got the density down further than it would have been in the West Side Area Plan by saying that 856 units would be allowed in the area, but then counting the 240 units at the Arboretum Apartments, which isn't even in the study area, against that 856 units.

Anyway, rant over. lol
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  #195  
Old Posted Dec 28, 2017, 4:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LMich View Post
In fact, if there is anything wrong with the planning in the area is that it should have allowed more higher density residential to save even more of the open space. Walden Woods goes according to the plans, but it's kind of a suburban waste of perfectly space. So the NIMBYs down in Arcadia are actually hurting themselves with their demands in the end.
^ I think this is probably the biggest sore spot for nearby residents, who were under the impression that the 'open space' would be a large, contiguous area (I think 40 acres), fully accessible by the neighborhood for passive recreation activities. When Walden Woods came about, it provided for ample open space, but that space was spread out between the condos, and is technically not publically accessible to folks who aren't residents of the development. That said, there's not really any security features stopping someone who doesn't live there from going for a walk, jog, etc. through the development. But I think you're right that if the development was higher densidty there would have been a greater probability of more public open space. There's also a public trail that runs parallel to the Parkway.
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  #196  
Old Posted Jan 6, 2018, 3:10 PM
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Consumers Credit Union's new Headquarters opened in December, in The Groves Center. The 92,000 SF building consolidates employees from four separate locations into a collaborative open work environment with connections to nature. Two additional phases of construction could eventually occur, expanding the facility to up to 200,000 SF. The design Architect, HOK, posted a few photos of the completed project on their website. I will be touring it soon and will hopefully get some more photos. From HOK's website:

Quote:
Design of Consumers Credit Union’s New Headquarters Emanates from Nature
HOK Staff
January 4, 2018

Consumers Credit Union, one of Michigan’s largest homegrown financial institutions, opened its new HOK-designed headquarters in Kalamazoo this week. Nearly 150 employees previously working in four separate buildings moved into a collaboration center situated among rolling hills and wooded ravines on a 23-acre site. The centerpiece: a contemporary, three-story, 92,000-square-foot office evoking its natural surroundings, designed to bring employees closer together while providing exceptional amenities...






Images Source: HOK
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  #197  
Old Posted Jan 9, 2018, 3:53 AM
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A few more photos of the completed Consumers Credit Union Headquarters. I'm glad that this is getting a little local news attention, because it really is a strong design for the area. I only wish it was more downtown / centrally located, instead of in a suburban campus. All images sourced from MLive, Courtesy of Kirk Schultz and HOK.



















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  #198  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2018, 8:34 PM
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Local residents are opposing a rezoning effort that would reduce the possibility of larger commercial developments in Southtown. Residents are protesting the proposed change on the grounds that it might reduce their property values if the Community Commercial District, which allows for larger buildings, is changed to a mix of four different zoning districts: CCBD, CN-1, CN-2 and RM-36. Most of the parcels in question would be changed to CN-2 (neighborhood commercial district) which is a more restrictive zone. The city believes that the rezoning will encourage mixed-use developments in the neighborhood.

EDIT: This sounds like Nimbyism, in a different form. I think that there is concern that the rezoning would make it easier for thinks like gas stations, fast food joints, and liquor stores to be built, which could devalue adjacent residential parcels. Whereas if the zone remains CCBD, these types of commercial uses are harder to build, and larger apartment or office structures are easier to build, which tend to increase land values. If that is the case, then I support the sentiment of the neighborhood residents. I also think the city has been having a tough time getting developers to do much of anything in this area, and are thinking let's open it up to other uses.

Quote:
Petition opposes rezoning meant to limit large commercial development
By Malachi Barrett | MLive
January 11, 2018

KALAMAZOO, MI -- Thirty-one property owners in an area tapped for rezoning oppose removing commercial zoning districts south of downtown. Last week, the City Commission was scheduled to hold a public hearing on rezoning 243 parcels to enable walkable urban development. But, a protest petition filed hours before the Jan. 2 meeting caused the hearing to be rescheduled to Jan. 16. It ultimately failed to attract enough signatures to require approval by a two-thirds vote. However, Richard Stewart said the petition is indicative of how many property owners feel about the rezoning...

Last edited by deja vu; Jan 13, 2018 at 2:54 PM.
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  #199  
Old Posted Jan 13, 2018, 2:48 PM
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Oshtemo Township has approved the $4 million plan to remodel the current Holiday Inn and an adjacent, vacant bowling alley into a new conference center. There are no known site contaminants, but the project will still be receiving BRA dollars because the bowling alley space is considered a "functionally obsolete" property. The revamped property will become a Delta Hotel by Marriott. Holiday Inn will be moving into a new hotel being constructed on the other side of US-131 as part of AVB's "Westgate" development.

Quote:
Oshtemo gives OK to $4M hotel conference center renovation plan
Malachi Barrett | MLie
January 10, 2018

OSHTEMO TOWNSHIP, MI -- A $4 million plan to turn a vacant bowling alley near U.S. 131 into a hotel and conference center is moving forward.
Tuesday, the Oshtemo Township Board of Trustees unanimously approved a brownfield redevelopment plan for the former Holiday Lanes Bowling Alley at 2747 South 11th Street. Kalamazoo Hotel Group, LLC is planning to demolish the interior of the "functionally obsolete" property and redevelop it as a conference center...
The existing hotel, with empty bowling alley towards the top:

Image Source: Google Maps
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Old Posted Jan 14, 2018, 5:45 PM
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Portage Public Schools posted a new flyover, showing construction progress at both campuses:

Video Link


Also, Portage's large park system will be getting some more love, per the five-year Recreation & Open Space Master Plan update for 2018-22, which is currently available for public comment. Here's the direct link to the 209-page draft document. The Action Plan, which begins on Pg 52, calls out 7 specific targeted goals:
  • Action A: Expansion of non-motorized trails, bike lanes, and greenways
  • Action B: Improvements to existing facilities
  • Action C: Reduce or minimize operating costs
  • Action D: Conserve, preserve, and enhance natural features and environmentally sensitive areas
  • Action E: Planning for future parks and recreational needs
  • Action F: Develop diverse, balanced, and innovative park facilities
  • Action G: Continue to provide a diverse slate of programs for all ages and seasons

Quote:
Updated Portage 5-year parks plan up for public comments
By Tom Haroldson | Special to MLive
January 10, 2018

PORTAGE, MI - With a successful past building its park system, Portage now turns to the future to map out the next five years. A draft of the five-year Recreation & Open Space Master Plan update for 2018-22 is available for public review and comment until Jan. 27, and will be the subject of two hearings 6:30 p.m. Feb. 7 and 7 p.m. Feb. 22...
The biggest item on the plan is the possible purchase of 377 acres of the Gourdneck State Game Area to convert it into a city Park for $4 million, estimated cost. This makes a lot of sense to me. As this area (sub)urbanizes, it is becoming less popular / safe for hunters to use it. Turning it into park land it will help protect it from future house / condo encroachment, and it serves as a good buffer to US-131. There is a strong potential for great passive recreation use in the area, and it could easily link up to other parts of the trail network. Some other big-ticket items ($1 million-plus) include:
  • A trail tunnel under US-131, linking to the west side of the city (2025 - $2.1 million)
  • A new trail around the north and east sides of Austin Lake (2019 - $2.1 million)
  • A Sprinkle Road bypass from Center Ave to Romence Road (2020 - $1.1 million)

Also new for this year, Portage residents will be granted free admission to Ramona Park, which includes a popular beach / lake. Numerous other improvements related to expansion of trails, bike lanes, and greenways is included. Pgs 57 - 58 of the document contain a list of all of the planned projects for the next five years:



Source: Portage Parks & Recreation Department

Some of those updates have already begun, like the new restrooms under construction at the recently completed trail head for Eliason Nature Preserve, which I walked past yesterday:

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