Public Hearing, Open Houses Set for Downtown Kalamazoo Economic Growth Authority

On July 2, the Kalamazoo City Commission adopted a resolution declaring its intent to create a corridor improvement authority which would be known as the Downtown Kalamazoo Economic Growth Authority (DEGA).

A public hearing on the adoption of a proposed resolution to create the DEGA and designate the qualified development area was set for Monday, August 6, 2018 at 7:00 PM at City Hall, 241 W. South St., Kalamazoo, MI 49007.

Since 1989, the Downtown Development Authority has funded the majority of its activities through tax increment revenues. In recent years, the values within the district for which those revenues are calculated and collected have plummeted. Similar to the City, the DDA was negatively impacted by the great recession, and due to constitutional constraints, has not recovered fully. Additionally, upon its creation, the values of the district were largely concentrated with one major industrial complex. Changes to that complex resulting from mergers and acquisitions have led to demolitions, transfers in ownership to tax-exempt entities, and assessment appeals. Due to these factors, the overall value of the district has fallen below the initial assessed value, eliminating the primary funding source of the DDA.

Over the last year, Downtown Kalamazoo Inc., on behalf of the Downtown Development Authority, and in partnership with the City Manager’s Office and the Community Planning and Economic Development Departments have explored multiple tools afforded by state Law to replace the DDA revenue shortfall.  Engagement with multiple outside consultants and State of Michigan’s economic development staff have led to the conclusion that the creation of the DEGA under the Corridor Improvement Authority Act of 2005 is the best solution to the current crisis faced by the DDA.

Act 280 of 2005 authorizes the governing body of a municipality to create corridor improvement authorities when certain qualifying criteria are met.  The intent in creating these authorities is to aid in the redevelopment of commercial corridors and qualified development areas to promote economic growth. The powers granted to a corridor improvement authority board are similar to those granted to the DDA and Brownfield Redevelopment Authority so as to be able to carry out the intent of the Act.

The activities of an authority are largely funded by proceeds from a tax increment financing (TIF) plan. As with the current DDA, corridor improvement authorities are also able to issue revenue bonds, accept donations, levy special assessments and receive fees/rentals from property and facilities operated or controlled by the authority. The creation of the DEGA will reset the basis on which tax increment revenues will be collected, placing the DEGA in a strong position to reinvest increased TIF revenue from recent and upcoming downtown developments.

The proposed boundaries of the DEGA largely mimic those of the existing Kalamazoo Downtown Development Authority, existing almost exclusively with the boundary of the Central Business District Neighborhood and so as to meet the definition of a qualified development area, the under the Act, necessarily includes the Kalamazoo Transit Center. Significantly the boundary excludes the aforementioned industrial parcels now owned by Zoetis. The proposed boundaries extend down Stadium Drive to Oliver Street allowing for investment in the southwest gateway into downtown. Also included are the commercial blocks of West Michigan Avenue and Academy Street between Westnedge Avenue and Stadium Drive. Lastly, the proposed boundary crosses the Kalamazoo River, to include the redevelopment site known as Merchant’s Crossing.

The creation of this corridor improvement authority is consistent with the goals of Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 and the Urban Growth Initiative, and will provide a much-needed source of revenue towards the development of downtown and ongoing infrastructure investment.

Meetings & Open Office Hours

The City of Kalamazoo and Downtown Kalamazoo Incorporated (DKI) invite members of the community to learn more about the proposed Kalamazoo Downtown Economic Growth Authority during two public meetings and open office hours in the months of July and August.

Public Meetings

  • Wednesday, July 25, 1 - 2:30 p.m. Kalamazoo Public Library, Central Library, Van Deusen Room (315 S. Rose St.)
  • Monday, July 30, 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. Anna Whitten Hall, First Floor Conference Room (202 N. Rose St.)

Neighborhood Meeting for Downtown Residents

  • Thursday, August 2, 6 - 7:30 p.m. Downtown Kalamazoo Inc. Office (162 E. Michigan Ave.)

Downtown Kalamazoo Inc. Open Office Hours

DKI staff members will be available to answer questions at DKI’s new office location, 162 E. Michigan Ave., during the following dates and times:

  • Tuesday, July 24, between 1 and 3 p.m.
  • Wednesday, July 25, between 2:30 and 4 p.m.
  • Thursday, July 26, between 1 and 3 p.m.
  • Tuesday, July 31, between 1 and 3 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 1, between 1 and 3 p.m.
  • Thursday, Aug. 2, between 1 and 3 p.m.

Two More 'Movies in the Parks' on Friday July 27, August 17

 

The 2018 summer Movies in the Parks series continues with two more chances to enjoy a movie outside, under the stars in one of our great city parks! All movies are free and everyone is invited! Family-friendly activities begin at 7 p.m. and continue until the movie starts at sunset. Popcorn and food will be available for purchase. The series is on select Fridays throughout the summer:

July 27, Coco at South Westnedge Park
Chosen by popular demand!

August 17, Sherlock Gnomes at Frays Park

The movies shown on July 13 and 27 were chosen by community members from a selection of films. You can RSVP to Movies in the Parks on Facebook here.

 

Community Input Sought for Long-term Parks & Recreation Planning

 

The City of Kalamazoo’s Parks & Recreation Department will start working on a new Master Plan and Strategic Vision this summer. The planning process will begin in June and include community meetings as well as opportunities for community members to offer feedback at Parks & Recreation events.

The Parks & Recreation Department will host meetings at the following times and locations:

  • Tuesday, June 12, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m., LaCrone Park
  • Saturday, June 23, 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Southside Park
  • Tuesday, July 10, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m., Woods Lake Park
  • Thursday, July 26, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m., Rockwell Park

In addition to these meetings, Parks & Recreation staff will be available at Lunchtime Live! and Movies in the Parks events this summer to speak with community members about future planning. Lunchtime Live! takes place in Bronson Park every Friday between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. (from June 8 to September 28), and Movies in the Parks are held on select Fridays at City parks.

The Parks & Recreation Master Plan and Strategic Vision will guide park improvement projects and recreation programs over the next 5-10 years. It also identifies land that should be considered for future parks as well as current park space that is unused or not needed. This work will build upon the Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 Master Plan with a focus on more specific goals, including Inviting Public Places and Youth Development.  

The process was last completed in 2013 and included improvements to Woods Lake Park, Hays Park, and several extensions of the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail, which have since been completed. The 2013 plan also examined recreation programs and led to the expansion of successful programs and changes to programs that weren’t thriving. The 2013 plan is available in the Parks & Recreation Office located at 251 Mills Street.

Parks & Recreation Departments are required to update their plans every five years to be eligible to apply for grants from the Department of Natural Resources. Plans are required to meet specific guidelines including the entire inventory of parks, amenities, and programs.

Parks & Recreation staff expect to have a draft prepared in the fall of 2018 and anticipate approval by the City Commission in early 2019.

 

City of Kalamazoo

Home to the Kalamazoo Promise, three institutions of higher education, two nationally recognized healthcare systems, cutting-edge medical research, world-class brewing and dining, outstanding parks, and an extensive variety of music, art, theatre, and cultural attractions.

Contact

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 (269) 337-8047
 (269) 337-8182
 241 West South Street
     Kalamazoo, MI 49007

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