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As summer approaches, Kalamazoo's development downtown is in full swing

Downtown Kalamazoo buildings
Posted at 4:33 PM, Apr 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-14 11:08:19-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — As downtown Kalamazoo goes through some development changes, many questions have been left unanswered as to what the future will look like.

Previously, Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership was under contract with two other organizations including the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and the Downtown Economic Growth Authority (DEGA).

They handled almost everything downtown-related like attracting new businesses, parking and events.

Earlier this year, the city of Kalamazoo took the responsibility back.

"[There are] some changes in the the downtown management, but I can tell you, the events and everything else going on downtown Kalamazoo are going full speed ahead," said City of Kalamazoo's Deputy City Manager Jeff Chamberlain.

The changes were made so the city could help back the financial structure as they continued to see less revenue than expected from tax increment financing (TIF) in the downtown district and aggressive projected future revenues.

"City staff are working on a lot of finances that go into how we manage downtown and how we take care of downtown, so you have staff that are working on that through the city. We are still working with outside contractors and partnerships that we've already had in place, and those are continuing on," said Chamberlain.

Those partnerships include the chamber of commerce, the Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership, and even the expansion and building upon work already done with downtown merchants.

Much of the work in other areas has also been taken over by city staff including events and parking.

"The events going on in downtown Kalamazoo, some of them are run by the city, but a lot of those are run by outside organizations that want to come into downtown Kalamazoo and host an event," said Chamberlain.

Chamberlain said this summer will be busy with annual events like June Jubilee, Beats on Bates Alley as well as new events through partners.

As for parking, this summer won't look much different. However, going forward, there may be some changes from recommendations they received prior to COVID.

"Some of those recommendations include how can we encourage more free parking in our ramps downtown Kalamazoo make that available for people who want to come in and shop or they have maybe a professional appointment. Those are kind of coming back onto the table but would not expect to see any of those changes quite yet the summer but maybe later toward the end of the year," said Chamberlain.

The city's number one goal though as they move forward is to stay transparent through these changes.

"We need to stay in touch with those individuals that have businesses and live downtown, or shop downtown also. So yes, that very much so is a consideration of ours is making sure that as we go through any changes of staying very much in communication with our key stakeholders and our residents in the downtown area," said Chamberlain.

Chamberlain also added they plan to be very upfront through discussions at the DDA meetings. Any downtown stakeholders can participate in those and bring up any concerns they may have.