Housing Study Recommends 1,400 More Units in Downtown Kalamazoo

About 1,400 more living spaces could be built and would be readily put to use over the next five years in downtown Kalamazoo and the surrounding area.

By: Al Jones, MLive Business

KALAMAZOO, MI — About 1,400 more living spaces could be built and would be readily put to use over the next five years in downtown Kalamazoo and the surrounding area.

So finds a 117-page study commissioned by Downtown Kalamazoo Inc. and other interests, and compiled by Zimmerman/Volk Associates Inc. of Clinton, N.J.

"An Analysis of Residential Market Potential" analyzes Kalamazoo's central business district as well as adjacent areas to determine "the optimum market position for new urban housing units — created both through adaptive re-use of existing non-residential buildings as well as through new construction."

Researchers studied the Vine, Northside, Stuart, Eastside, West Main Hill, Fairmont (Douglas), Southside and Edison neighborhoods, including the Portage Street corridor just south of the downtown.

Subtitled "The Target Market Study Area -- Downtown Kalamazoo and Surrounding Neighborhoods," the analysis determined that "approximately 1,000 new rental and for-sale market-rate dwelling units could be constructed, or created through adaptive re-use of existing building, and absorbed within the target area over the next five years."

And it found that an additional 375 to 460 new workforce/affordable housing units could be supported over the same time frame. 

The study, released by Zimmerman/Volk Associates in December, was to be formerly presented to local leaders, downtown officials, business people and others during an invitational gathering Wednesday afternoon at the CityScape Events Center on the downtown Kalamazoo Mall.

Laurie Volk, a managing director of the Zimmerman/Volk, a research and strategic analysis firm, was to present the findings of the housing study. She is the principal in charge of the firm's market studies and is its primary analyst of demographic, market and lifestyle trends.

Other speakers at the 90-minute were to include:

• Mary Beth Graebert, associate director for programs and operations for the Michigan State University Land Policy Institute: She is expected to share research on "walkable" urban places in seven Michigan metros, including the Kalamazoo metro area.

• Todd Poole, president and founder of of 4Ward Planning: He is to share available sites in the market with detailed pro-formas – showing how the numbers could work for development.

• Jon Durham, a partner with NoMi Developers Inc.: He is to share his philosophy on residential/commercial development and explains some of the challenges behind recent projects that NoMi has announced.

Their presentations They were to participate in a panel discussion including a question and answer session.

A link to the study is the housing study may be accessed on the Southwest Michigan First website (www.southwestmichiganfirst.com/KalamazooHousingAnalysis).

According to information provided by regional economic development organization, the ZVA study was conducted in partnership with Downtown Kalamazoo Inc., Michigan Economic Development Corp., Michigan State Housing Development Authority, Local Initiatives Support Coalition, the governor's Office of Urban Initiatives, the city of Kalamazoo and Southwest Michigan First.

Zimmerman/Volk specializes in the analysis of compact and sustainable development; mixed-income, mixed-tenure redevelopment; mixed-use urban revitalization; and traditional neighborhood developments, according to its website.

It is a woman-owned company has done more than 450 market studies since 1988.


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