Approved covenant revisions clear the way for future mixed-use development south of campus

A critical step in the development of 300 acres south of Central Michigan University's campus has been completed, bringing the SmartZone District that much closer to becoming a reality.

The CMU Board of Trustees has approved revisions to the Center for Applied Research and Technology (CART) covenants, allowing for the construction of a SmartZone development more in line with the Gibbs Planning conceptual design first introduced in 2018.

The original covenants permitted development of a high-tech office park. With the changing of the covenants, Central Michigan University Research Corporation, the organization shepherding the development, can now seek developers to create something that is more on trend: A live-work-play mixed-use development that focuses on placemaking, walkability factors, and more.

"Initially the covenants appealed to a high-tech development. Now as trends in development have evolved, we’re seeing more and more demand for mixed-use development," says Erin Strang, president and CEO of CMURC.

"We’ve gone from a starchy business park to a mixed-use sense-of-place community."

Revising the covenants was legally necessary in order to build a mixed-use development complete with residential, commercial, and public spaces.

CMURC now moves on to the next step in developing the SmartZone District: Finding a developer interested in making the conceptual design plan a reality.

Design concepts from Gibbs Planning include 630,000 sq. ft. of office space, 30 acres of industrial property, 105,000 sq. ft. of retail space, 915 new residential units, 16 acres of parks and public spaces, 40 acres of preserved open space, and 15 acres of cropland, united by concepts of urbanism like placemaking and walkability.

"Within the community, there is very little land that hasn’t been developed yet. With being in close proximity to the university, it’s a really unique opportunity to develop this space," Strang says.

"This can create a great sense of place in our university town."

The CMURC Master Plan can be viewed online.

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