Space available for businesses that promote foot traffic

It's been many years since an ice cream parlor, a pharmacy, and other retailers brought shoppers to Washington Square on Portage Street. That kind of bustle is what neighbors would like to see once again.

Businesses that can help revitalize the neighborhood will be given preference as the Kalamazoo County Land Bank seeks and reviews proposals for the commercial hub.

Commercial spaces are available with flexible floor plans, ranging from 700- to 3,600-square-feet. Some are newly renovated suites and others are white box for a business owner's own design.

"Neighborhood retail, food establishments, any business that will will activate the street front and increase walking traffic" are the types of businesses being sought, says Kelly Clarke, of the Kalamazoo County Land Bank.

Businesses that can draw not only from the surrounding neighborhood, but also will attract customers from across the city would be ideal. The Land Bank is asking fair market rent for the commercial properties, but may offer incentive based rent for proposals strongly aligned with the overall goals of the redevelopment of Washington Square.

Washington Square is within walking distance to downtown Kalamazoo, and a few blocks away from the historic Kalamazoo Farmers Market, WMU Medical School now under construction, and the proposed $42 million KVCC Health and Wellness Campus. All of which could create a potential market for any business choosing to locate in the Washington Square area.

In addition to the commercial space being offered, two-bedroom apartments over the retail space on the west side of Portage Street also are available. New engineered wood flooring, fresh paint and other amenities are offered. Clarke says artists who want to live over their studio might find a home they can appreciate in the apartments.

The Land Bank has partnered with the Edison Neighborhood Association and others to work towards the revitalization of Washington Square. The work that has been accomplished will be on display during the May 2 Art Hop.

Artists from the neighborhood and beyond will be at various locations in the neighborhood. The art of Conrad Kaufman and Aubrey Jewel Hardaway will be at 1350 Portage Street. The photography of Sam Zomer will be seen at 1313 Portage and the photographs of F. L. Boyd will be at 1326 Portage. At Fire, a father, daughter show exploring different visions of home will be seen in the works of Zinta and Vistarts Aistars. KVCC students and youngsters from the Boys and Girls Club also will have art on exhibit during Art Hop.

Source: Kelly Clarke, Kalamazoo County Land Bank 
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