Oakwood Neighborhood

Banking, retail, and office center will reuse prominent spot near Kalamazoo’s Woods Lake

Editor's note: This story is part of Southwest Michigan Second Wave's On the Ground Kalamazoo series.

Woods Lake Square is the name of a new retail and office center that will make use of a prominent but vacant corner at Oakland Drive and Parkview Avenue–becoming the first new commercial construction in the Woods Lake area in many years.
 
The center will be anchored by a new branch of Consumers Credit Union, which owns the 1-acre property at the northwest corner of Oakland and Parkview. It will use about two-thirds of the main floor of a two-story, 4,391-square-foot building. An adjacent, two-story building will provide 7,355 square feet of space for retail and office uses.
 
“We are thrilled to be adding our 26th office to serve Consumers’ 120,000 members across West Michigan,” Kit Snyder, chief executive officer and president of Consumer Credit Union, says in a press release. “Our Consumers team works hard to assure our products and services are easily accessible so our members can bank how they want, when they want.”
 
Construction is expected to begin before the end of February and to be completed during the fourth quarter of this year. Portage-based AVB is the construction manager. Architectural work is being done by Bosch Architecture, Engineering, and Interior Design. Tenants should be able to occupy the property by early next year, according to information provided by the credit union.
 
A branch of consumers credit union will anchor the new Woods Lake Square.“It replaces the old Bacchus,” says Doug Post, broker/owner of the Lo Company, a Kalamazoo-based real estate advisory service involved with the project.
 
The project will reuse property that had most recently been home to Tangles hair salon, Oakwood Barber Shop, and Bacchus Wine & Spirits at 3112 Oakland Drive. The corner was also previously home to Superior Cleaners which was demolished in 2009. The hair care services relocated after Consumers acquired the property about two years ago. 
 
Bacchus, a seller of cheeses, liquors, coffee, beer, and wines, was a neighborhood landmark business that closed in March of 2016 after 45 years in business. The property has been idle since then and its vacancy stands in contrast to both the bustling D&W Marketplace, which sits across Parkview Avenue to the south, and a busy group of businesses at Oakwood Plaza, which sits across Oakland Drive to the east.
 
The property overlooks the southern end of Woods Lake and is at the crossroads of the Oakwood Neighborhood and the Oakland Drive/Winchell Neighborhood. Cheryl Lord, Executive Director of the Oakwood Neighborhood Association, says area residents are hoping the project will be a boon to the Woods Lake area.

“It seems like they’re doing many things to hopefully do it right,” Lord says of the project, which was a topic of a community meeting after Consumers purchased the property.
 
She says the redevelopment will be a welcome beautification of the corner property but neighbors have been concerned about how the land would be reused. Their concerns included how a commercial center would impact traffic (how cars would enter and exit the property as well as how much new traffic it would generate) and whether new buildings would be set back far enough to allow motorists to see oncoming traffic at the intersection.
 
The new Woods Lake Square will offer office and retail suites at the corner of Oakland Drive and Parkview Avenue.“They promise us that they are going to have good lighting so it’s not going to shine on people’s homes around the lake,” Lord says. And she says Consumers Credit Union has been working with the city to make sure the new development will have no run-off of water from parking areas down to Woods Lake. It is bound by guidelines set by the city’s Natural Features Protection Committee.
 
There has been concern about the erosion of the land leading down to beachfront property that the Oakwood association owns there. While the City of Kalamazoo owns Woods Lake Beach, a public beach primarily along the east side of the body of water, an adjoining section to the south is a park owned by the Oakwood Neighborhood Association and is open to any resident of the Oakland Neighborhood.
 
The new credit union branch will feature Consumers’ newest teller technology and drive-thru lanes to provide a wide range of services, including new accounts, loans, credit cards, mortgages, investment services, and business services. Inside, the Woods Lake Branch will have banking stations, a free coffee bar, Wi-Fi, and loan and member service areas.

While no additional business tenants have been announced for the property, Post says it is open to any commercial uses that would not compete with the credit union, such as a financial services operation. The property may serve well as a home for a real estate firm or a law firm, he says. Office and retail suites will be available from 526 to 6,627 square feet, and end cap areas will feature outdoor seating.
 
Consumers Credit Union is a Kalamazoo-based thrift that has been reporting18 percent annual growth for each of the last 35 years. It is celebrating its 70th  anniversary with 23 locations in West Michigan and more than $1.8 billion in total assets. According to information provided by Snyder, the business hopes to expand into other new markets during the coming year, including Lansing and Muskegon.

Read more articles by Al Jones.

Al Jones is a freelance writer who has worked for many years as a reporter, editor, and columnist. He is the Project Editor for On the Ground Kalamazoo.