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  #621  
Old Posted Dec 31, 2020, 5:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrewInKzoo View Post
https://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo...outputType=amp

Another step closer to funding for the stadium
No surprise there. She also signed the historic tax preservation into law. I am trying to keep an open mind about the prospective event center. Social media is filled with haters on this thing. No surprises there, but I am finding a hard time finding anyone who is really in support of this, other than elected officials and Ron Kitchens / Southwest Michigan First. There's still so much we don't know. If there is a developer, who would it be? Presumably PlazaCorp? How will this be publicly / privately funded, apart from the new tax option? What happens if the Kzoo Wings, WMU Broncos, & Expo Center all remain un-invested in it?


In other stuff...

At long last, this ugly, POS eyesore near W. Main and Drake & next to the new Chik-fil-A (which looks basically completed, btw) is finally seeing its much-needed death. I drove by this thing yesterday afternoon around 4:00pm and it was still standing. And then later that evening I saw these pictures on my Instagram feed. So after years of it sitting vacant and falling apart, they moved pretty fast -







Any future development of this lot will surely be an improvement but nothing too exciting. The active Westwood Plaza basically envelops it, and by the looks of it, the plan always was to fill-in-the hole that would be left when this gas station got demolished. I think it just took a LOT longer (like, decades-longer) than they had hoped. If Treystar hopes to partner with a tenant or two to help justify their expansion of Westwood Plaza, they might have to wait. It seems like a tall order right now and I suspect it will just remain an open, empty lot for a while -


Source: Google Maps


Source: Google Maps

In an odd twist, the same day that Treystar was intentionally demolishing this property, a drunk driver was unintentionally damaging their office along W. Michigan Ave. in downtown -

Quote:
A woman is arrested after police say she crashed into the front of Treystar on E. Michigan Avenue in downtown Kalamazoo Wednesday night. Police say the driver was intoxicated at the time and suffered only minor injuries.

Source: Instagram | @newschannel_3


Separately, I saw this image of downtown Kalamazoo on Instagram. I really like this angle and the way it shows the old juxtaposed with the new. This is one of the views from which tiny Kalamazoo appears most dense -


Source: Instagram | @whiskeyalphadelta

Last edited by deja vu; Dec 31, 2020 at 6:17 PM.
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  #622  
Old Posted Dec 31, 2020, 10:16 PM
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The latest Kalamazoo Planning Commission meeting agenda is posted online (for January 7, 2021). Two new items are included under Public Hearings:

1. Request for a Special Use Permit to construct a new fraternity house at 1701, 1709, and 1711 Fraternity Village Drive.

It seems silly that a Special Use Permit would be necessary on a street that is home to 13 other existing fraternities / sororities, but I guess it is not included in the list of approved uses for Residential Multi-Family (RM15). It is largely a procedural thing I suppose. The recommendation is to approve the special use. According to the application, the three parcels would be combined to form one 1.83 acre parcel for the construction of a 7-unit (4 bedrooms ea.) facility with shared common spaces. All three parcels were former sites of apartment buildings that were demolished in 2012.



2. Eastside Neighborhood Rezoning Requests

This is in line with the ongoing zoning studies that have been happening in support of the greater Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 Master Plan. Current parcels that are zoned as Community Commercial (CC), Manufacturing (M1), Residential Single Family (RS5), Residential Multiple Family (RM15), Residential Duplex (RD19), or Commercial Office (CO) would be rezoned as Live Work 1 (LW1), Live Work 2 (LW2), Residential Single Family (RS5), or Residential Duplex (RD19). The recommendation is to recommend approval of the rezoning to the City Commission.

I posted the proposed zoning map here previously. But I have not seen these images included in the packet that were a part of the visioning process - it is great to see this level of thought already. With the help of local architecture studio InForm, a new, multi-phased neighborhood center called Eastside Square has been conceived -

Eastside Square Project(approximate location) -


1601 East Main -








1616 East Main -








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  #623  
Old Posted Jan 6, 2021, 2:07 PM
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When I first read this article, I thought it was a joke -

Kalamazoo's economy has been booming by pretty much any definition I can think of in recent years, and its population has been slowly growing. I really wanted to see the data behind these claims, because something didn't add up. I wasn't even going to post it, because it sounded so bogus.

#1 in the country for brain drain? No way.

We have WMU, K-College, KVCC. Stryker, Bronson, Pfizer, Zoetis, Graphics Packaging, Landscape Forms, dozens of engineering firms, all thriving & growing. The region can't keep up with housing demand, home values are rising, etc...

Quote:
Worst Spot for U.S. Brain Drain Gets Hope as Covid Vaccine Hub
By Vincent Del Giudi
December 31, 2020

The old factory town of Kalamazoo, Michigan, has become a center for Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing. That may help the area’s economy turn a corner after some tough years. Ranked highest in this year’s Bloomberg Brain Drain Index of population loss of top talent, Kalamazoo has struggled like the rest of the U.S. with the job-crushing pandemic. But the city got some hope when Pfizer Inc.’s factory in adjacent Portage recently became a key distribution point for the vaccine. The drugmaker and German partner BioNTech SE plan to deliver 200 million doses to the U.S. by July...
It's a false narrative. Yes the pandemic has hurt Kalamazoo like everywhere else. Restaurants, bars, and recreation, hospitality, & service-related businesses have closed, sometimes permanently. But there's no way we have lost the most jobs out of ANY METRO in the entire country.

Well now yesterday, this article came out, and it confirms my suspicions that something seemed off in the study.

Quote:
Kalamazoo researchers dispute Bloomberg ‘brain drain’ report
Kyle Mitchell | Wood TV 8
January 05, 2021

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Researchers in Kalamazoo are disputing a report that gave the metro area the worst ranking on the Bloomberg Brain Drain Index. The ranking lists communities that have lost the most highly educated workers in recent years. The W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research discovered the error. President Michael Horrigan says they are working to contact Bloomberg and have recalculated some numbers.

“They were comparing apples and oranges,” Horrigan said.

He says his organization noticed a substantial mistake in how the list was compiled...
Apparently, the number-crunchers at Bloomberg failed to consider that the defined Kalamazoo-Portage MSA area used to include Van Buren County, but sometime between 2015 - 2019, Van Buren County was removed from the MSA (by the American Community Survey definition - which Bloomberg used for this report). So they were comparing between two disparate population areas, giving them a number that falsely indicated a population decline of 21% between 2015 and 2019 when there was really a 2% population increase.

Thankfully we have institutions like The Upjohn Institute to keep on eye on false reports like this. And they should know - for starters, they are one of the most preeminent employment research institutions in the entire world. Second - and this is important - they are LOCAL. They actually pay attention to what happens in the Kalamazoo-Portage metro.

Thankfully, this mistake was noticed, and hopefully, Bloomberg issues a correction and an apology quickly. Hopefully must people don't take much stock in these near-pointless rankings, but damage could have been done.
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  #624  
Old Posted Jan 6, 2021, 2:18 PM
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Here's the data graphics from the Bloomberg study. Ann Arbor, less than 2 hours east of Kalamazoo, was ranked 3rd in the country for "Brain Power" - which is a bit more believable than Kalamazoo being ranked #1 for "Brain Drain" -









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  #625  
Old Posted Jan 7, 2021, 11:58 AM
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Just a quick pic - yesterday, WMU posted a current aerial photo showing construction progress on their new Student Center & Dining Facility project - it is really starting to come together now. Bonus - you can catch the rear-view of Arcadia Flats (darkest building) in the distance -


Source: Instagram | @wmubuild
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  #626  
Old Posted Jan 7, 2021, 1:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deja vu View Post
Apparently, the number-crunchers at Bloomberg failed to consider that the defined Kalamazoo-Portage MSA area used to include Van Buren County, but sometime between 2015 - 2019, Van Buren County was removed from the MSA (by the American Community Survey definition - which Bloomberg used for this report). So they were comparing between two disparate population areas, giving them a number that falsely indicated a population decline of 21% between 2015 and 2019 when there was really a 2% population increase.
Wow, that's really bad data analysis. The first thing you do after compiling data is check for outliers that might be errors. A 21% population loss in four years is completely unheard of (maybe only New Orleans after Katrina?) and should have been a red flag.
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  #627  
Old Posted Jan 7, 2021, 5:39 PM
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Originally Posted by deja vu View Post
Here's the data graphics from the Bloomberg study. Ann Arbor, less than 2 hours east of Kalamazoo, was ranked 3rd in the country for "Brain Power" - which is a bit more believable than Kalamazoo being ranked #1 for "Brain Drain" -
I imagine this is exactly what happens when a city provides free college education to its residents. There are just too many highly educated people for the local jobs available. And with a huge and vibrant city like Chicago just a couple hours away, it doesn't seem that surprising to me at all.
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  #628  
Old Posted Jan 7, 2021, 7:11 PM
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[QUOTE=subterranean;9152518]I imagine this is exactly what happens when a city provides free college education to its residents. There are just too many highly educated people for the local jobs available. And with a huge and vibrant city like Chicago just a couple hours away, it doesn't seem that surprising to me at all.[/QUOTE i

Perhaps that's true. But if it is, I don't know how to verify it. And on that note, The Promise is helping the entire state, not just Kalamazoo, so... you're welcome, Michigan. But since the Promise affords free college tuition for many different colleges state-wide (not just those institutions in Kalamazoo), I still don't really understand how that kind of information is quantitatively defined or tracked. I mean, how long do they follow the course of each individual's life / career to determine ultimate outcomes?

For example: if a Kalamazoo local who is a graduate of KPS goes to K-College for an undergrad degree, then UMich for a masters, then gets a 6-month internship job in Ann Arbor before scoring a long-term, salaried job at Stryker in Kalamazoo / Portage - which gets hit with the "brain drain penalty" - Kalamazoo, or Ann Arbor? Or both? First Kalamazoo, then Ann Arbor?

I don't get the sense there's a mass exodus of white collar workers from our metro. Quite the opposite seems to be happening. Supply and demand for highly-skilled workers has mostly remained high, even through this pandemic. Maybe that is just my perception and perspective working within the AEC industry. But if you want a high-paying job in Kalamazoo County (relatively speaking, compared to the relatively low cost of living), especially in biotechnology, medical manufacturing, architecture, engineering, or construction, your options in Kalamazoo far exceed options in some other places on that list.

And to my earlier point, the population in this region has grown by 2% in the past few years, not shrunk by 21%, which should have been an obvious red flag to anyone involved in that "study" who checks their work.

Last edited by deja vu; Jan 8, 2021 at 12:19 PM.
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  #629  
Old Posted Jan 7, 2021, 7:14 PM
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Originally Posted by deja vu View Post
Just a quick pic - yesterday, WMU posted a current aerial photo showing construction progress on their new Student Center & Dining Facility project - it is really starting to come together now. Bonus - you can catch the rear-view of Arcadia Flats (darkest building) in the distance -
Speaking of Arcadia Flats, it officially opened to students on Monday, January 4. I coincidentally just saw this on MLive after my earlier post. Virtual classes resume on January 11.

Quote:
Move-in begins at Western Michigan’s new student housing facility
By Kayla Miller | MLive
January 05, 2020

KALAMAZOO, MI -- The newest student housing option on Western Michigan University’s campus is open and filling with residents this week. Arcadia Flats Apartments opened to residents on Monday, Jan. 4, and students are moving in their belongings this week, WMU spokesperson Paula Davis said. The new student housing complex, estimated to cost $62 million, takes the place of Elmwood Apartments, which were built in 1954 and demolished in June 2018. The new building is a six-story, 197-unit residential facility that will house up to 353 students...
These are very sharp looking residences that will make practically every other on-campus housing option blush (with the exception of the still fairly new Hall-Archer-Pickard residences) -
























Source: MLive | Joel Bissell

Last edited by deja vu; Jan 7, 2021 at 8:31 PM.
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  #630  
Old Posted Jan 11, 2021, 2:21 AM
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Haven't walked around Kalamazoo in a while... here's a few photo updates from today -

Harrison Circle Apartments, already topped out. That's the beauty of prefabricated construction -




Graphic Packaging's massive industrial expansion. The road is closed and monitored, so I could only catch this slice of it -


180 E Water St. / Haymarket Plaza -








Bonus - the new Portland Loo, adjacent to 180 E Water St -


No one ever shows pictures of the inside. But I tried it out. Remarkably clean so far. I don't know how they keep the toilet water from freezing. Maybe the bowl is heated






Our own little slice of the Little Caesar's HQ -


Construction work is ongoing for the restaurant that will replace Zazios (in the Radisson) -


Home2 Suites -


The ghost of 302 Academy -


Last, and least importantly, the new Chick-fil-A, at the corner of West Main & Drake. This opens on 1/14/2021, and it is the first one in Kalamazoo City, and only the second in the region (one opened in Portage a few years ago). There are already people in line (kidding, but probably won't be long). Police are planning to be on hand to direct traffic -
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  #631  
Old Posted Jan 11, 2021, 2:38 AM
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Thanks for the update! I love that glass at the corner of 180 E Water St. Looks amazing. I bet thats going to be a cool interior space there.
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  #632  
Old Posted Jan 14, 2021, 9:55 PM
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With Arcadia Flats officially open and the new student center & dining facilities under construction, demolition work promptly began on WMU's Draper and Siedschlag Halls yesterday. The complex was built in 1950, meaning it served in its roll as residences & dining services for over 70 years. Eventually, new student housing and other university facilities will be built here as Western continues to aggressively pursue its "Hilltop Village" Capital Project, which will completely transform the entire southern portion of the main campus. WMU's facilities maintenance website already has the dorms noted as razed in 2021.

These photos are from yesterday and today, via Instagram -


Source: Instagram | @facilities_wmu


Source: Instagram | @facilities_wmu


Source: Instagram | @facilities_wmu


Source: Instagram | @facilities_wmu

Here's the concept images for the Hilltop Village Capital Project -






Source: WMU


Not too far away, locals successfully purchased 11.8 acres of wooded land adjacent to WMU's Kleinstuck Preserve in October 2020, effectively preserving it from the possibility of commercial development (which was seeming more and more likely). Their successful land acquisition effectively increases the natural area of the existing 48 acre preserve to almost 60 acres of land in the Westnedge Hill neighborhood.

Quote:
'Keep Kalamazoo Wild' effort purchases and hopes to maintain woodland next to Kleinstuck Preserve
Al Jones | Second Wave Media-Southwest Michigan
January 12, 2021

An organization of nature lovers and area residents has signed a deal to purchase 11.8 wooded acres adjacent to the Kleinstuck Preserve, one of Kalamazoo's largest land preserves. In doing so, it is on track to safeguard more open space for wildlife and casual family recreation and try to live up to its rallying slogan, "Keep Kalamazoo Wild...”

Source: Second Wave Media | Nate Fuller
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  #633  
Old Posted Jan 16, 2021, 6:39 PM
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Chik-fil-A Grand Opening - Thursday, 01/14/2021 -

I must say, they did a good job keeping congestion off of W. Main. But at one point, I saw the car line extending all the way through the adjacent Westwood Plaza parking lot, down to Cold Stone. Probably 50 - 60 cars. My hope is that once the hype settles down, this Chik-fil-A will alleviate some of the congestion at Popeyes across the street, where cars will sit on W. Main with their hazards on, as well a the traffic at the Portage Chik-fil-A location. Probably not though -




Source: Instagram | @treystarinc

I spotted this fuzzy rendering of the new Milwood Kalsee Credit Union that will be built at the corner of Portage and Cork. I don't mind the funky architecture but I will really miss the mid-century fire station building that they are demolishing to make way for this.


Source: Instagram | kalseecu

This was a little surprise - apparently Treystar is remodeling the second floor of 151 E Michigan Ave. They call it the Monroe Building, but I know it has the former Kalamazoo Savings Bank building. I don't know what they're planning to do with the first floor, which currently serves as the field offices for CSM Group's CD-12 / 180 E. Water St. crew. Presumably they will do a lot of interior wall partition demo to open up the floor area similar to the second floor -


Source: LinkedIn | Treystar




Source: Treystar

Treystar is also apparently remodeling the atrium in the Main Street East building, which they've already "remodeled" several times in the recent past. It looks like this attempt is a little more involved though - new paint, some accent flooring, new furnishings, and perhaps new railings and accent lighting at each level -


Source: LinkedIn | Treystar
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  #634  
Old Posted Jan 16, 2021, 9:22 PM
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Here's a few more photos of Catalyst's 180 E. Water St. / CD-12, through the lenses of the concrete contractor. Some of these are from "inside of the fence" - and you do get a peak at some of the near-finished interior office areas -
















Source: LinkedIn | Grand River Construction, Inc.
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  #635  
Old Posted Yesterday, 6:26 PM
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New transition housing to serve Battle Creek's homeless population has been announced. The project would include a new 55-unit housing development on the empty lot at 535 W Van Buren St. The project is still in the "early phases" of development. A recent survey concluded that Calhoun County had more 1,100 homeless -

Quote:
Housing-first development in Battle Creek will be a 'game-changer' for homeless population
Elena Durnbaugh | Battle Creek Enquirer
January 12, 2021

An empty lot on West Van Buren Street could soon be the site of a new, 55-unit housing development. UPholdings, an affordable housing development and management company, is partnering with the City of Battle Creek and the local Continuum of Care to develop a permanent supportive housing community to help get people facing homelessness into housing...
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