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  • 2 weeks later...

On 9/14/2019 at 9:35 PM, gvsusean said:

I just moved to Kzoo... I have been an active member on the GR forum since 2005... let’s get this one going again! Anyone got any pics of kzoo to share or any tips on new developments??

Good luck getting this sub going. I really hope it works. I wanna see that new development downtown. I also hear they're starting chatter about a new arena again!

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  • 9 months later...

Maybe I can help fire things up again. I just joined Urban Planet (although I have silently followed the Grand Rapids discussions for many years). I'm an Architect living in Kalamazoo and I provide pretty regular Kalamazoo updates on skyscraperpage and skyscrapercity (and it's pretty quiet on those forums too). Here is a copy-paste job of my most recent update from a few days ago, for most of the higher-profile projects happening around town, to help get things going again. There is (still) a lot going on! Welcome to town, gvsusean!

These are from last Saturday (7/11/20) and they are just in the order that I came across them. A mix of driving and walking, and a mix of things big and small, suburban and urban.

King-Westwood Elementary School Addition and Remodel -


Consumers Credit Union Branch - this was a fast new build on the northwest corner of Drake and West Main. An older bank branch was demolished to make way for this. The branch functioned out of a mobile trailer in an adjacent parking lot while this went up. Looks like it is just abut ready to open -



In contrast, across the street on the NE corner of Drake and West Main is the site of the slowest-moving project in town, a new Chik-Fil-A (only the region's 2nd) -

Bronson Methodist has a lot of things going on around town, including no less than six new Primary Care medical buildings. This is the one on West Main, in Oshtemo Township. All six were scheduled to open at the start of July, requiring a rather coordinated move of 60+ physicians that ended their contract with Ascension Borgess (the other big hospital in town) recently -


There is a new drive that connects over to the new Advia Credit Union Headquarters, also under construction -


Though in a suburban location, the Advia CU building is quite massive -

And the adjacent stormwater retention pond taking shape is also quite immense, in its own way. It rained hard yesterday, so we got to see it pretty full today -

I'm glad to see so much masonry on the building -



South on Drake, past Stadium Drive, Western Michigan University now has most of the infrastructure and landscaping in place for its Business Technology and Research Park Phase 2 Expansion. Here's a site plan and some photos - no buildings yet, except for an open-air pavilion structure -
Source: WMU












Heading up Stadium Drive now, towards WMU. It's hard to get a good shot driving by, but there is a new Honor Credit Union Branch that was formerly a Bob Evans. It is quite the transformation and will open this fall -


Here's some renderings, since I couldn't get a good shot -


Source: Honor Credit Union

Further up Stadium, Lume, the city's first Recreational Marijuana Dispensary, is open. I read that Lume is currently the largest, single-state marijuana dispensary company in the country. And they have some aggressive expansion plans.

WMU's Arcadia Flats -




And the new WMU Student Center, which is taking on greater presence - 



Kalamazoo College's new Natatorium is a lot further along than I thought - 







Downtown, Hilton Hotels - 





Just west of here is where the new county justice facility will be built. The construction fencing is up, and there is a job trailer and excavator on site -


180 E Water St / Catalyst Development - exterior finishes are underway (and look sharp!) -




"The Creamery" -



Bronson Cancer Pavilion -


Bronson Generator Enclosure -


Bronson Surgical Suite Expansion (infill at main hospital) -


Bronson Labs (like I said, lots going on) -




400 Rose (now occupied) -



And finally, ending with something random, some sort of roof top work at the at&t downtown building -

Thanks for scrolling!


Here's a second (mostly copied) post from the other forums, which I shared a few days ago, as a follow up to the previous post, above.

The construction fence (and now demolition work) that I thought was for the new justice facility is actually a block west of this, and is for a parking lot that will serve the new facility. My neighbor, and this article, helped correct me. Newschannel 3 posted some video footage of the demo work that was commencing yesterday.

Construction crews work on parking lot adjacent to new Kalamazoo County courthouse

Samantha May | WWMT / Newschannel 3
July 16, 2020

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Construction crews continued work on a space adjacent to the new county county courthouse building Thursday...On Thursday, July 16, 2020, crews were at the lot adjacent, constructing a new parking lot for the courthouse...They dug up and hauled away sidewalks and pavement to make way for the new lot.

Here's a screenshot of the video, credit to Newschannel 3 / WWMT photojournalist Jason Heeres.

I'm pretty disappointed that after all this time, they are just going with a surface lot, versus a parking deck in the center of the block with actual mixed-use programming / development encasing it, which I thought was the earlier plan. See exhibit A, below.


The current demo work for the alleged new parking lot is in the top right block of the four full squares below. The courthouse / justice facility would be in the block to the right of that (the block where the "RISE" logo is), in the zoomed-in view (also the block labeled (Site Under Consideration for Courthouse) in the first image.


So three possibilities:

  1. This will indeed become a surface lot, but will be temporary while development is determined.
  2. This will indeed become a surface lot, and will stay that way.
  3. WWMT didn't do a detailed fact check and / or used unclear wording, and this actually will be a parking deck.

My hope is that it's (3), but my fear is that it will be (1) or (2), and if it ends up being possibility (2), this will severely hamper one of the goals of developing the west end of downtown to create a tightly-knit, walk-able urban fabric to grow the small downtown. Instead, it will just be a slightly prettier, less dusty, more asphalt-y version of what's there right now.

I still struggle to find a lot of public information on this justice facility project, or its surrounding related developments. Which is surprising, considering hos high-profile it will be.

In other news, KPS is on track to finish their new transportation center on Ravine Road by end of August. Whether or not it will be put to much use come school starting back up this Fall remains to be seen.

Source: WWMT / Newschannel 3 | Matt Miller

Lastly, I must mention that Buddy's Pizza opened in Portage on Monday, after a COVID-19 related delay. The building used to house "Old Chicago" another pizza chain with often mixed reviews that closed last year. This is the first Buddy's Original Detroit-Style pizza chain in southwest Michigan, and I think it will be a hit. I grew up with it, and jokingly say it is about the only thing that would make me want to move back to the east side of the state. Now I'll never have to.

Buddy's Pizza officially opens in Portage

Samantah May | WWMT / Newschannel 3
July 13, 2020

PORTAGE, Mich. — Detroit-style pizza finally arrived in West Michigan on Monday. After Buddy's Pizza delayed its reopening due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19, the pizza company opened its Portage doors Monday, July 13, 2020 at 5314 S. Westnedge Ave...

Source: WWMT / Newschannel 3

My wife surprised me with Buddy's for dinner the day it opened on Monday, and all I can say is, watch out, Erbelli's!

(yes, that's pineapple, and I don't care if you object :tongue4:)


Edited by deja vu
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Here are some Kalamazoo updates for Saturday, July 25, 2020 -

Bronson Labs

First, a recent article about the newly-opened, 55,000 SF / 3-story Bronson Labs facility, located at 400 John St. in downtown Kalamazoo.


Bronson Healthcare relocates testing lab

Ehren Wynder | GRBJ

July 24, 2020

 Bronson Healthcare’s main testing laboratory now has its own dedicated space across the street in a newly constructed building at 400 John St. in downtown Kalamazoo. The testing lab previously operated on the Bronson Methodist Hospital North Campus. The full-service testing lab provides a broad array of clinical services to Bronson system hospitals, practices and outpatient clinics, as well as other providers and health care facilities throughout southwest Michigan. It processes orders received from lab draw sites but is not itself a site for patients to go to for specimen collection...


The article touches on some pretty impressive stats -

  • Modular / Flexible Design
  • Dedicated Education Space
  • 300+ Staff
  • 3.2 Million Orders / Year

The timing of this full-service facility could not be better, at least from the sense that it now allows for same-day turnaround of many COVID-19 tests in the region.

Here's a neat aerial view of the same project, recently shared by the Architect, TowerPinkster, on their Instagram page -



Stryker Instruments LEED Silver Certification

Speaking of Tower, they just announced on Instagram that the massive new Stryker Instruments facility in Portage (completed earlier this year) just achieved LEED Silver certification. TowerPinskter partnered with HOK on this project -


There are some good interior photos from a few months ago that can also be found on several separate TowerPinkster Instagram posts, and shared below -


Source: Instagram | Towerpinkster


Source: Instagram | Towerpinkster


Source: Instagram | Towerpinkster


Source: Instagram | Towerpinkster


Source: Instagram | Towerpinkster


Source: Instagram | TowerPinkster


The Creamery

 Just a small bit of news on The Creamery - the mixed-use project in Edison designed by Byce & Associates. The new planned completion is January 2021, after some COVID construction delays.



The Creamery development in Kalamazoo set be finished January 2021

Manny Revilla | WWMT / Newschannel 3

July 21st 2020

...Hollander said that COVID-19 has created a few small set backs in the process. Construction stopped for about two months and some materials have been harder to obtain but despite this Hollander said that he still believes that the building will open in January 2021 barring a spike in COVID-19 cases...


The Exchange

Some new, professional photographs are out for another recently-completed project designed by Byce - The Exchange. Sourced from Instagram, with credit to Jason Keen + Co. Photography & Fran Dwight Photography -










Charles & Lynn Zhang Animal Care & Resource Center

Progress continues on the new home of the Kalamazoo Humane Society. These are screenshots from a video walk through posted in June on Instagram -




Source: Instagram | Byce & Associates


West Main Mixed-Use Project

I don't have a lot of info on this project and I don't know what to call it yet, but the demolition went fast and is already complete, after months (years?) of planning to replace this derelict auto service shop on West Main, near Stadium Drive. I bet the neighbors are glad to see this eyesore finally gone.


West Michigan vacant buildings to be restored for housing, commercial space

Trisha McCauley | WWMT / Newschannel 3

July 5th 2020

...MEDC began moving forward with community revitalization projects across the state...Crews were getting started on one of the projects in Kalamazoo. An old body shop on Kalamazoo Avenue was being torn down, making room for a new building that was expected to have have 18 residential units and commercial space for small businesses to use...


Boatyard Brewing Demolition (432 E Paterson)

Personally, this was a favorite hang out of mine. I was sad when it closed last year, and sad once again when I drove by the complex last week to see it bulldozed into the ground. I never understood why this place was disliked by so many locals, who complained about the environment, the food, the beer, the location, etc. I personally liked the crowd and the fact that it was set aside from all of the saturation of breweries downtown. The food and beer wasn't the best, but it was good, and the live music was always great and low-key. It was a cool complex, and it also housed some artist studios for a time, I believe.

Anyway, I am not completely sure what is going in its place. A lot of folks assume that the massive Graphic Packaging International faculties will expand its operations here from across the street, but I don't think so. They do indeed have plans for expansion, but I think it is all north of Paterson St., and mostly on the site of the old Checker Motors factory. One person on Facebook seems to be in the know and claims it is going to be a new Medical Marijuana grow faculty, coming Spring 2021. But no public info that I've seen on that. We will see...

Here's a google maps street view, from before the demo. The first two photos below are by Jane Brewer on Facebook, posted on July 11. And the last few are my own, taken on July 19 -









WMU Projects / Facilities Construction Cameras

I don't why it took me until just now to notice that Western Mich. University Facilities Department has several cameras and time lapses for campus construction projects on their website. Right now there are three active cameras, all focused on the new developments in the South Neighborhood area (Arcadia Flats & the new Student Center). The Student Center camera is especially useful, since it is largely obscured by construction fencing, landscaping, and adjacent buildings in-person. Links and stills from today, below.

Camera 1 - South Neighborhood Overview


Camera 2 - South Neighborhood / Arcadia Flats Close-Up


Camera 3 - Student Center & Dining Facilities:


Here's a time-lapse of the first 8 months of Arcadia Flats construction (from February 2019 - September 2019), also on the Facilities site.



Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Development

Finally, while not exactly development in the traditional sense, this is potential huge news for Kalamazoo if it results in billions invested in Pfizer by the Federal Government:


Pfizer reaches agreement with U.S. government to produce COVID-19 vaccine

The nearly $2 billion contract aims to have 100 million doses of the vaccine by the end of 2020.

Will Kriss | WKZO

July 22, 2020

KALAMAZOO, MI (WKZO AM/FM) -- The U.S. government has reached a $1.95 billion deal with Pfizer in producing a COVID-19 vaccine, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar announced Wednesday. The goal of the deal is for large-scale production and nationwide delivery of 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in the United States following the vaccine’s successful manufacture and approval. The agreement also allows the U.S. government to acquire an additional 500 million doses...


Edited by deja vu
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Two updates out of Battle Creek

With the help of a grant from Battle Creek Unlimited, a new taco joint is planning to move into the empty downtown building at 56 E Michigan Ave. Sounds like there will also be some second floor residential units as part of the work. I'm not crazy about the aesthetics of this...



$250,000 BCU Grant to Bring Torti Taco to Downtown Battle Creek

Tim Collins | 95.3 WBCK

July 24, 2020

The COVID-19 Pandemic has slowed economic efforts everywhere, including downtown Battle Creek, but a new $250,000 grant from Battle Creek Unlimited (BCU) will pave the way for another downtown restaurant. Torti Taco will be moving into the old Operation Grad building at 56 East Michigan Avenue.   Elliot McKone LLC, owner of the building, will get the quarter of a million dollar grant through the downtown Real Estate Improvement Fund...



Source: 95.3 WBCK



Source: Google Maps


And another (much bigger) deal also involving BCU (and Industrial Partners USA) was just announced. I'm sorry this is not more architecturally compelling, but it is still a significant investment –



New $11 million industrial development coming to Battle Creek

Elena Durnbaugh | Battle Creek Enquirer

July 22, 2020

Battle Creek Unlimited has sold 55 acres along Watkins Road and Interstate 94 to Industrial Partners USA for the construction of a new industrial space. The development will feature a 270,000 square-feet industrial speculative building, which will include office space, 32-foot ceilings, 16 truck docks and the potential to accommodate a future rail spur.  The total investment is expected to cost approximately $11 million. The developers plan to break ground later this summer and expect to have the building ready for move-in by March 2021. ..





Source: Battle Creek Enquirer | Courtesy BCU

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I don't get down to Portage as often as I used to, but was driving around Sunday and noticed a few things.

Portage North Natatorium

Construction is well-along on this new pool structure. This project is very similar to the recently completed pool at Portage Central. The main difference is that this one is a separate, detached structure. It's interesting to me that in the past few years, the Kzoo / Portage area has gained three new top-notch natatoriums (this one, Portage Central's, and K-College's). I think swimming & diving must be increasing in popularity. 




Portage North Middle School

Right next door to this is (and sharing a vast parking lot) the recently completed Portage North Middle School. It's actually a pretty "urban" design for a decidedly "suburban" area. I say that mainly because of the density and the stacked program, which makes me picture this in a much denser setting. Same story as above, this is almost a copy of the new middle school wrapping up at Portage Central, just with different finishes and site layouts.



I particulary like this moment of stacked program & massing at a side entry to the commons -



City of Portage Fire Station No. 2

Lastly, I noticed that the replacement City Fire Station No. 2 is quite far along. It's a pretty different aesthetic from the adjacent, current 1970-'s-era structure. It seems to reference some of the common tropes of earlier fire stations, including the tower. All of the overhead doors / bays for the new building are located off of the street-side elevation, so other than the tower, this looks more like any of the other office suites in the area. I think the plan is that the old station will be demolished once the new one is up and running.





There's much more going on in Portage I'm sure, and maybe I'll catch some more of it eventually.

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Demolition work in advance of the new Women & Children's shelter at the Kalamazoo Gospel Michigan has begun. It was delayed (like so many things) by COVID-19. It's a bit odd to celebrate a new homeless shelter project, but it is sadly infrastructure that the city needs while it works to solve disproportionate homelessness problems.




Kalamazoo homeless shelter begins $10M renovation to women’s and children’s center

Samuel Robinson | MLive

July 30, 2020


KALAMAZOO, MI — Construction has begun on the Kalamazoo Gospel Ministries’ new women’s and children’s shelter, with the goal of better accommodating a demographic that continues to grow. Last week, the ministry celebrated the demolition of its vacated women’s and children’s center to make way for a new shelter with a live virtual event attended by Kalamazoo Mayor David Anderson, the ministries construction team and invested partners...




Source: MLive | Joel Bissel


Separately, here is a still shot from the construction camera today for the WMU Aviation Education College Addition in Battle Creek -


Source: OxBlue

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Here are a few Kalamazoo development things; in order from small to big.

1. (Small) - "Urban Alliance" Purchases its Building

Urban Alliance has purchased the former Stockbridge Avenue United Methodist Church building that has been serving as its home base since 2015. This is a well-established community / resident support program with deep roots in the city and deeper roots in the Edison neighborhood. It plans to continue to operate out of the building and further improve it as a neighborhood community / resource center.

Location: 1009 East Stockbridge Avenue.



Urban Alliance Inc. purchases building in Edison neighborhood

“The purchase of this property allows Urban Alliance to expand its services and offerings to the community, both to the Edison neighborhood and Kalamazoo at large,” officials said.

Will Kriss | WKZO

August 04, 2020


It's actually a pretty decent-size site - nearly 1.4 acres according to GIS data. Seems there could be potential for some community-oriented development or affordable housing, down the road.


Base Image Source: Google Maps


2. (Medium) - Treystar / Haymarket Plaza Development

I feel like this was already announced, or maybe it's just because I was personally aware of plans for this redevelopment.



Treystar announces development plan for Haymarket Plaza downtown

“We have always felt like our properties created a neighbor in and of themselves on East Michigan Avenue,” said Fritz Brown of Treystar.

Will Kriss | WKZO

August 04, 2020

KALAMAZOO, MI (WKZO AM/FM) -- Kalamazoo-based development company Treystar, along with its partners Catalyst Development and the City of Kalamazoo, has announced plans in creating the Haymarket Plaza. Running along the north side of East Michigan Avenue, between the Main Street East buildings and the 180 Water Street project, the plaza is named after the historic Haymarket District where it is located...


This is kinda "Treystar-Central" so it makes sense that they would want to develop the void space created by their assemblage of properties in the Haymarket area. I like the idea of projection-mapping onto the side of the Haymarket Building. But at the end of the day, this development is really little more than some lighting, decorative concrete, landscaped planter beds, and maybe a few site furnishings (kinda like Bates Alley, on the opposite side of Michigan Ave. except at least there there are multiple businesses and restaurants / bars with outdoor decks / patios). At least they're trying...something. And if it is underwhelming at first, at least the groundwork has been laid for something better to come, futures from now...

Some Renderings:






Source: Patronicity / Treystar


3. (Medium) - 615 Holdings / 10th Street Enterprises

I mentioned a few posts ago about the demolition of a derelict auto shop near Stadium and West Main (very close to Kalamazoo College and the Amtrak train tracks). Well, we at least have a name and a rendering of some sort for this project. It's actually a little more interesting and a little bigger than I was picturing for that site. According to this GRBJ article, there will be two mixed-use buildings consisting of commercial space, 18 residential units, and 40 parking spaces. The project will receive a $750,000, performance-based grant from the MEDC / Michigan Community Revitalization Program. The site is also getting brownfield credits. I think this is a win-win-win for all those involved. Hopefully those are some strong, acoustically-insulated walls and glazing though, because that Amtrak horn is loud!



MEDC funds three West Michigan projects

Rachel | Watson | GRBJ

August 4, 2020


And a lot more info / project background here:



Offices and market-rate apartments planned west of downtown Kalamazoo

Malachi Barrett | MLive

November 30, 2018; Updated January 29, 2019


Interestingly, one of the partners in the development team used to be the lawyer for the brothers that owned the one-time auto shop.

Rendering (not much site context yet - presumably there are two of these?)


4. (Large) - Graphic Packaging International Expansion

I was driving along the wasteland of what is North Pitcher Street Monday (after dropping off our voting ballots) and I noticed this project is MUCH further along than I had thought. They are going like gangbusters on this thing. It seems like every contractor in the region and his brother are on-site. I figure there were at least 100 vehicles in the contractor lot, maybe 150. While an industrial development in every sense, the scale of this investment, not to mention the promise of jobs it means in this region, is immense.

This is a ~$600 million development to construct a new "coated recycle board" mill. It is all being built on the site of the former Checker Motor Corp. factory. The mill will house a new coated recycled board (CRB) machine with an anticipated output capacity of ~500,000 tons of coated recycle board annually. That's a lot of cardboard.

It was way too busy and monitored to get out and attempt photos, so I offer some drive-by shots only for now. At least half-a-dozen cranes of some sort too.










Edited by deja vu
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I haven't checked the City of Kalamazoo Active Site Plan Review website in a while. There are 10 site applications currently open. Of those 10, two are fairly interesting, and they are both senior-housing developments.

The first project is called Rose Street Senior Living. It would be located at the corner of W Cedar St and S Rose St, just a bit south of the recently completed 400 Rose mixed-use development. The owner / developer is PGJ, Development, LLC. I can’t find much on them, except they seem to also own / manage River Bluff Townhomes in Mt. Pleasant, MI.

The site / civil engineer is Driesenga & Associates (Kalamazoo) and the A&E firm is Hooker DeJong (Grand rapids). If approved, it could be a 5-story, 64-unit development, including first-floor enclosed parking (~83,000 SF total). I think this would be a great development for the location, effectively bringing the density of S. Rose St. further south and replacing a surface lot with some good density. It would be an almost total build-out of the site, in-terms of lot coverage and allowable height 57’ high proposed / 65’ max. allowed). There are plans showing an interior, second-story courtyard / light well that helps adherence with the 80% max. allowable lot coverage.




Source: City of Kalamazoo Site Plan Review

The second project is an expansion at the Heritage Community (located at the corner of Portage St. and Phillips St.). The exact project address would be 500 Golden Drive. It looks like two of their existing buildings would be demolished for a new, four-story, independent living facility with 60 residential units and interior parking (~134,000 SF total). The signage in one of the renderings reads "Revel Creek" which might be a hint at the specific name of the development. Byce & Associates is the local A&E firm, along with Perkins Eastman out of Chicago.




Source: City of Kalamazoo Site Plan Review

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  • 4 weeks later...

I love this concept program, and I hate the location. In my opinion, the intersection of N. Westnedge Ave. & W. North St. is far too noisy, commercial, and traffic-laden to be a desirable spot for stand-alone dwellings, no matter what the size. This area should be reserved for denser, mixed-use development, maybe 2-3 floors of sound-attenuated apartments, with ground-level commercial. Hopefully the stakeholders know what they are doing. It's better than vacant parcels anyway. The three homes and small business office building would be built in the first phase, on the southeast corner. The goal is that three more would eventually be built in a subsequent phase on the opposite (northwest) corner.



'Tiny' houses are set to be a big deal in Kalamazoo's Northside Neighborhood

Al Jones | Second Wave Media

August 28, 2020

Tiny houses are coming to Kalamazoo’s Northside Neighborhood. Delayed for more than seven months by state and local efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, ground is to be broken on Oct. 8 on three “tiny” houses -- about 410 square feet each -- by Helping Other People Exceed (H.O.P.E.) thru Navigation...






Source: Second Wave Media

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Catching up some things in Portage & Kalamazoo, gleaned over the past few weeks. First, Kalamazoo -

WMU’s new Student Center & Dining Facilities building, from this morning – 

Source: WMU Webcam

WMU Arcadia Flats, also this morning – 

Source: WMU Webcam

The Creamery, from near end of July, 2020 - 






Source: Instagram | byceassociates

The Charles & Lynn Zhang Animal Care & Resource Center (which will house the Kalamazoo Humane Society), early August, 2020 - 


Source: Instagram | byceassociates

A couple views of 180 E Water St, posted by CSM via LinkedIn. The first is from during a Chiller installation, with bonus skyline shot - 


An unfinished office floor level - 

Source: LinkedIn | CSM Group

400 Rose, recently completed (it is the first LEED sustainable housing development in downtown Kalamazoo) - 

Source: LinkedIn | AVB

Lastly, a sunrise view from the top of the new Hilton Garden Inn / Home2 Suites, from August 2020 - 

Source: LinkedIn | First Companies, Inc.

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Moving on to Portage – 

Some nice shots of Stryker's new building, from 07/31/2020 & 08/12/2020 - 





Source: Instagram | @towerpinkster

Source: Instagram | towerpinkster

And a pretty cool axo-section rendering view of the interior, posted 08/07/2020 - 

Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/CDmRKmsjigz

Portage North Middle School, professionally photographed, and now with an AIA Design Honor Award under its belt -

Source: LinkedIn | C2AE / Jason Keen

Portage Public Schools recently released a public update video, with some footage of the new Central Middle School (which is very similar to the new North Middle School, just with different finishes).







Source: Portage Public Schools

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Kalamazoo is currently conducting a series of input activities to modify downtown zoning uses & standards. The first activity was focused on updating the downtown zoning map by dividing the one, large Commercial – Central Business District (CCBD) into three smaller districts. The resulting map is below. The second activity focuses on feedback for this draft map, and specific use and standards of the three proposed Downtown Districts. This activity ends tomorrow (9/8/20). 

I think it is a good effort on the part of city planners, especially during the COVID era. Although I am not sure yet about the move from one zone to three (when many other municipalities seem to be headed the opposite direction). The city claims that the "one-size fits-all" approach limits their ability to implement the goals of the new master plan. The city's goal is to update the entire zoning code in sections. There has not been a comprehensive zoning update since 2005. These current updates are focused on supporting the visions outlined in the new, Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 Master Plan, which was completed in 2017 and can be viewed here.

More detail in the short video below -

Anyway, if anyone else here lives in the city, I'd encourage you to participate.

Source: City of Kalamazoo

Source: City of Kalamazoo

Source: City of Kalamazoo

Source: City of Kalamazoo

Source: City of Kalamazoo

Source: City of Kalamazoo

Source: City of Kalamazoo

Source: City of Kalamazoo

Source: City of Kalamazoo

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1. City Life Teen Center, opening January 2021 (COVID delays), is a new, $3 million facility on Kalamazoo's Eastside. The site is the East Main Church of Christ (right next to Harding's). Technically, this is an infill addition that is affiliated with the existing church, more than a ground-up new build (WWMT is not very clear on this). The architect is INFORM Architecture (local).



New Kalamazoo youth center to offer resources for teens on the East Side

Trisha McCauley | WWMT News Channel 3

September 3rd 2020

Construction is underway on a new youth center for teens on the East Side of Kalamazoo. Organizers of the project said teens on the East Side don’t have many resources available to them and they are hoping this center can provide positive opportunities.

“We want to provide several options for the teens, give them several options and alternatives to addressing the lack of resources that they have right now," City Life Center Director Zacarrii Hamby said...



Source: WWMT | Troy Truxton



Source: WWMT | Troy Truxton


2. While browsing around, I came across these renderings for the new "American Muscle" showcase building that is planned for the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners. It is designed to resemble a 1960's auto dealership.




Source: Schley Nelson Architects


3. Reservations are officially open for the new Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Kalamazoo. It looks like the first night one can book is December 9-10, 2020. No reservation dates yet for Home2 Suites, which I imagine is opening later. But both hotels are now hiring. I don't know why it took me until this far into it to realize that both projects have dedicated Facebook pages. Here are some updates from the recent past, from Facebook. The lobby in the renovated building (Hilton Garden Inn side) looks especially interesting. Note also the extensive snow melt system that is being installed.


Facebook Links:

Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo Downtown

Home2 Suites Kalamazoo Downtown



Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo Downtown



Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo Downtown



Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo Downtown



Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo Downtown



Source: Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo Downtown



Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo Downtown



Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo Downtown



Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo Downtown



Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo Downtown



Source: Facebook | Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo Downtown



Source: Facebook | Home2 Suites Kalamazoo Downtown



Source: Facebook | Home2 Suites Kalamazoo Downtown



Source: Facebook | Home2 Suites Kalamazoo Downtown



Source: Facebook | Home2 Suites Kalamazoo Downtown



Source: Facebook | Home2 Suites Kalamazoo Downtown


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  • 3 weeks later...

 Hello! Here are a couple of updates around Kalamazoo:

1. Haymarket Plaza

Work is moving along on the Haymarket Plaza (the reimagined alley in-between the existing Main Street East Building and the new 180 E Water St. development). Frankly, I'm surprised it is moving this fast. They must be trying to get all of the concrete work done before cold weather sets in. CSM posted a photo on their LinkedIn account. This will strengthen the small but unique alley culture that the downtown has been developing over the years, joining destinations like Bates Alley, Whiskey Alley, Farmers Alley, and Exchange Place.


Once complete, Haymarket Plaza - a new downtown Kalamazoo destination - will include a pair of seven-story projection screens, decorative concrete, landscape-form furniture, specialty lighting, a snow-melt system, and an open area designed for entertainment events.


2. WMU New Student Center & Dining Facility

Walbridge Group (CM) shared some interesting photos on their Instagram account yesterday of the final pour for the new student center & dining facility at WMU. The structural design of the floor is a "voided biaxial slab" which involves the use of many small, hollow balls that result in a lighter structure and increased + irregular column spacing. They look like large, colored golf balls, though I'm not sure of the significance of the different colors - differently sized voids, loads... just random? Anyway, pretty neat!





3. City of Kalamazoo - Downtown Zoning

The downtown zoning revamp continues with a virtual town hall tonight (September 24, 2020 - Live on Youtube), followed by a Planning Commission Review on October 1, 2020 (also will be cast on Youtube). This process is moving along at a fairly brisk clip, and it will be interesting to hear how satisfied the public is with the final plan in the coming months. Draft documents can be viewed here.



4. Updated Downtown Aerial Drone Footage

've been searching (hoping) that someone out there would do some new drone photography of downtown, since it has changed so much recently. And then I stumbled across @whiskeyalphadelta's Instagram account. Here are two views of the city center, taken on the first evening of Fall, 2020. The first view is the portion of downtown that lies North of Michigan Ave. and the second view is the portion that is south of Michigan Ave. If you know where you are looking, you can spot every major downtown infill development from the past few years, including The Exchange, 180 E. Water St., 400 Rose, and the Hilton Hotels. Great views!



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  • 2 weeks later...


Portage breaks ground on new community senior center
Lindsay Moore | MLive
September 24, 2020

PORTAGE, MI -- Portage’s new community senior center moved into its construction phase on Thursday, Sept. 24. The Charles & Lynn Zhang Portage Community Senior Center is an $11 million project located at 203 East Centre Ave. behind the city’s current senior center. The city of Portage has agreed to match a public donation goal of $5.5 million for the new facility. The public fundraising campaign was accelerated by the Zhangs' $2 million donation in September...


I hope this turns out better than these chaotic-looking renderings.

Source: MLive | Joel Bissell

Source: AVB | Courtesy Byce & Associates

Source: Portage Community Senior Center

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The rain finally went away and the sun came out today. I counted 9 cranes scattered around the Kalamazoo skyline while walking around downtown.

First, I didn't realize that the Harrison Circle project had started, let alone that it was this far along. The prefab. concrete structure on this one is interesting -






A new rendering of Harrison Circle slipped under my radar. I spotted this on AVB's website today -


It is very much in keeping with the pseudo-industrial, loft-style developments in the surrounding Rivers Edge district. It looks... nominally better than the earlier, 4-story version - 


I spotted the glazing contractors installing some of the "showpiece" windows on the corner of 180 E. Water St. These are reminiscent of the Little Caesar's HQ pizza slice windows in Detroit. I love the exterior materials on this one - 








You can see it peeking out above the smaller buildings along W. Michigan Ave. -


Haymarket Plaza -


(continued from previous post)

The Hilton Hotel projects are progressing rapidly. It looks like the terra cotta details on the former Masonic building have been cleaned and restored. The colors really pop now. Finishes are far along on the Home2 Suites portion, and the sky bridge appears mostly complete, although the road remains closed beneath it -





One can get a good view of this project from the top of the Radisson parking deck, not to mention the blocks to the west. The new county parking lot is nearly complete. The space in-between this lot and the hotels will eventually be the new justice complex. That project will help fill a major void and connect potential future developments further west to downtown -



You can also get a decent view of 180 E. Water St. from the top of the Radisson parking deck, as well as the Graphic Packaging International expansion. Also, it was just great weather for a general skyline shot. Lastly, you can spot the four cranes that are a part of the new WMU Student Center, off in the distance to the west -





We end with some closer-up views of the WMU student center. In the last photo, you can spot the opening in the floor plate that will visually connect multiple levels of the building -




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Byce & Associates posted a progress video two weeks ago of the Advia Credit Union project. I think it's growing on me... the interior lobby space looks like it will be pretty cool, and the exterior finishes are well-selected and actually have some complexity. I keep wishing this thing was in the heart of downtown though, as opposed to in a field next to a Meijer. I'll hopefully get to tour this in November.


Edited by deja vu
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The notorious Econo Lodge in Battle Creek is finally history. This place was plagued by years of illicit activities, then a lawsuit, and finally, a suspicious fire. The demolition cost is $90,000, paid for out of the $2.4 million insurance settlement that the motel owners received.

According to this article,


...Police had to go to the motel 475 times from January 2018 to February 2019[!]

Read More:


Final Chapter for Battle Creek's Econo Lodge and Attic Lounge
95.3 WBCK News Talk Radio
October 1, 2020

In an alternate universe, this could have been restored as a cool, retro-style motel. But alas, now it will become a grassy lot.



Source: 95.3 WBCK News Talk Radio | TSM Photo

Edited by deja vu
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The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kalamazoo is eyeing several prominent parcels for expanding their presence in the city. The site, located at the intersection of E Vine and Portage Streets, is comprised of four parcels, several of which were recently cleared -  825 and 847 Portage Street + 720 and 726 E. Vine Street. Most recently, it was home to Grapevine Furniture. B&G Club plans to build a new, 2-story Community Service Center here.

This could be a good anchor organization in an area that is lacking cohesion and walkability. The site is more or less a no-man's land, positioned in-between Downtown, South Town, the Vine Neighborhood, and the Edison Neighborhood (although I think it technically lies within Edison). It's sort of industrial, sort of residential, sort of commercial, sort of open space. There are busy roads and train tracks nearby. The area has born decades of decline, demolitions, and disinvestments. It has higher poverty and crime (I feel like every time I say this about an area of Kalamazoo, there happens to be a police vehicle in the street view). Only recently has new development centered around Washington Square - the small commercial center of the Edison neighborhood) - spurred greater interest and reflected a renewed effort to stabilize the area.

A Special Use permit is required for such a function in the current M-1 district. This went before the Planning Commission at their September 2020 meeting, and I'm assuming it passed, under recommendation from the commission. There's no publicly shared massing yet, but I'm glad to see it will at least be 2 stories and stay fairly close to the lot lines along Portage and Vine.


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1. Bronson Park Updates

2+ years after being removed and placed in storage, the bronze children statues have returned to Bronson Park. New concrete bases were constructed for them. They previously sat on plinths in a fountain that was demolished and replaced with grass. The statue series were created in the 1970's sculptor Kirk Newman, to commemorate the country's bicentennial and they were originally dedicated on July 4, 1976. The full title is “When Justice and Mercy Prevail, Children May Safely Play.” Kirk has since passed on; his work seems to have a theme of groups of people / children.



Source: MLive

There have been several other recent changes in the park, as part of ongoing implementation of a newer masterplan. A new honor walk that  reorganizes the parks many monuments, plaques, and historic paraphernalia into one central area on the east end of the park was recently completed. There are ongoing plans to further stabilize, protect, and highlight a Native American burial mound in the south-west area of the park. And these display signs were erected earlier this year -



New signage comes to Bronson Park

Joel Bissell | MLive

May 1, 2020



Source: Joel Bissell | MLive

2. Northside Tiny Houses Delayed

Phase 1 of the Northside tiny house project is delayed. Groundbreaking was supposed to be yesterday. No reason for why, apart from "logistical issues' related to zoning. The issue really should be that these homes are better suited to a less prominent commercial intersection, almost anywhere else on the Northside -



Tiny house project in Kalamazoo delayed

Rachel Glaser | WWMT News Channel 3

October 8, 2020




3. Heritage Community of Kalamazoo / Revel Creek Development / 500 Golden Drive

It was announced yesterday that Ziegler Group, the investment bank that is backing the Heritage Community Of Kalamazoo's planned housing development, successfully closed on the Series 2020AB Bonds. It's an important step towards constructing the 60 independent living units to be located in a new 3/4-story residential structure on their campus off of Portage Street, dubbed "Revel Creek".


Here's a reminder of what it will look like -


4. Zoetis Expansion

Lastly, Zoetis is asking for a 48 million dollar, 12-year-long tax exemption, in exchange for an already-under-construction, 94 million dollar expansion to their operations on E. Kilgore Rd. (just north of the airport). The work includes a new 41,000 SF building that will add space for new production lines for new products and create an estimated 22 new jobs. There's a City Commission hearing scheduled for October 19.

Seems like a lot of tax-exemption money. And why are they doing this now, when the building is already under construction?



Zoetis asks for tax exemption for $94M expansion in Kalamazoo

Jeana Gondek | WKZO

October 6, 2020



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  • 2 weeks later...

I've got a Loo in Kalamazoo! First Portland Loo installation in the city, from today. Interesting location, right on the edge of this parking lot, across Water St. from the Arcadia Festival Site, and almost directly adjacent to the KVCC Center for New Media Building and the new 180 E Water St. development -

Source: Instagram | ar_haan

Speaking of 180 E. Water St. - the tower crane finally came down Tuesday. Here is one final look at it, a video CSM shared on LinkedIn. Also, the below photo, taken Monday, before disassembly began -

Source: LinkedIn | CSM Group


Edited by deja vu
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Advia Credit Union HQ is cruising along. Pretty much fully-enclosed now, and ready for interior work to continue through the cold months ahead. And oh how I wish they had built this 4-story HQ on any number of vacant lots downtown, instead of in the middle of a field in Oshtemo Township!









Source: Instagram | byceassociates

The Creamery is also very far along. In addition to the new, 48-unit housing stock, it will bring a new service to Kalamazoo - a 24/7 childcare center, operated by the YWCA of Kalamazoo -








Source: Instagram | byceassociates

Harrison Circle Apartments is also moving very quickly, no doubt attributable to the prefabricated / modular concrete construction methodologies employed -



Source: LinkedIn | AVB

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