From parking lot to seven-story building, corner of Edwards and Water is growing up

Catalyst Development Co. plans to break ground Monday, July 23, on a $70 million, 290,000-square-foot mixed-use building that it expects will take two years to build. 

Kalamazoo City Commissioners agreed this week to sell city-owned parking Lot 9 upon which the building will go up. The development at the southwest corner of North Edwards and Water streets will overlook the Arcadia Creek Festival Place. 

The mixed-use, high-density development will maximize green space and public areas as it rises on what is now a parking lot. It will combine spaces for living and working. And building tenants and other pedestrians also will enjoy snowmelt sidewalks around the building.

Catalyst says it expects the design of the building will help promote further development downtown.

The seven-story building will have two floors for residential units, 41,000 square feet, and four floors of office space totaling 55,000 square feet. It will also feature a multi-level parking deck with 300-plus spaces.

The building's multi-level parking deck will add 140 new parking spaces to the site to be used by building tenants and the public. 

At the July 16 City Commission meeting Patti Owens, Vice President and Managing Director of Catalyst Development Co., told commissioners that Catalyst is committed to offering housing for a diverse population that represents the diverse population of the city. A number of the rental units will be affordable workforce housing, Owens said. 

The residential rental portion of the property is expected to lease for $1 per square foot for apartments ranging from 550 to 1,500 square feet. Five of the units will be targeted for those earning about $31,000 a year for a family of four. 

The $714,369.00 purchase price of the parking lot will go to DDA for the exclusive support of the parking system, according to information on the property sale provided to city commissioners by city manager James Ritsema. The development, worth $70 million also will benefit the city by being added to the tax rolls. 
The property associated with Lot 9 is worth $565,666, the report goes on to say.

The building will be the new location for the office for the Kalamazoo Promise and for the new Kalamazoo Promise Institute.  The new think tank is intended to:

• further increase KPS' graduation rates by identifying ways to reach students before they enter high school;

• better prepare graduates to achieve their post-secondary credentials; 

• reduce the race and income-based segregation of Kalamazoo neighborhoods (especially those surrounding downtown); and 

• undertake additional means to make Kalamazoo a desirable place for both KPS graduates and new arrivals to live, work, plant roots, and raise a family.

The Kalamazoo Promise and The Kalamazoo Promise Institute will grow from two to 20 full-time employees, following the move to the building, allowing it to expand programming.

The building also will be the new headquarters for Community In Schools, Southwest Michigan First, the economic development advisors for a 14-county region,  and the law firm of Warner Norcross and Judd.

Mayor Bobby Hopewell praised the developers as “true partners in our community.” He said the Catalyst development with attainable housing “gets to everything we are trying to do with Imagine Kalamazoo and Shared Prosperity,” referring respectively to the city’s master plan update and program to address poverty.

City Commissioner David Anderson called the project another example of the quality work that Catalyst does in the community. “This is another example of the totally impressive work you do.”

Source: City Commission Meeting, June 16, 2018

Read more articles by Kathy Jennings.

Kathy Jennings is the managing editor of Southwest Michigan's Second Wave. She is a freelance writer and editor.