Trustees approve moving ahead with downtown property shifts

contact: Cheryl Roland
| WMU News
Cole-Gilmore property before proposed shuffling.

This map shows the current property ownership, with WMU-owned areas in green.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Acting at their March 15 meeting, Western Michigan University's Board of Trustees authorized the administration to execute a series of actions to sell downtown Kalamazoo land known as the Cole-Gilmore property and acquire additional parcels in a newly reconfigured four-block area slated for future development.

The land transfers are contingent on Kalamazoo County entering into a purchase agreement with MW Acquisitions LLC for one block of property in the development. Owners of the reconfigured area would then be MW Acquisitions and then Kalamazoo County, and WMU.

Vice President for Business and Finance Jan Van Der Kley reported to the board that, together, the purchase price offered for the WMU property and adjacent property owned by Downtown Tomorrow Inc. is $2.85 million.  Closing would occur not later than June 30.

Cole-Gilmore property after proposed shuffling.

This map details property ownership after the shuffle, with WMU-owned property in light green. (Note: "WM Acquisitions" should read "MW Acquisitions.")

As a result of the overall shuffle, WMU would own, debt free, one of the four blocks in the development—a parcel bordered by Kalamazoo, Westnedge, Eleanor and Cooley streets. MW Acquisitions would own two adjacent blocks and Kalamazoo County would own the fourth block it purchases from MW Acquisitions.

The Cole-Gilmore property was gifted to WMU in 2001. A series of agreements between WMU and Downtown Tomorrow were entered that prohibited either entity from selling their parcels without the express consent of the other. The agreements also set deadlines for WMU to commence construction on a significant project or allow DTI to purchase the property. Those deadlines were extended three times, with the final extension due to expire March 31.

The University is not expected to contribute any cash to the land deals—for either closing costs or extinguishment of an existing mortgage on the Cole-Gilmore property. There are currently no plans for the University to develop the land owned by WMU as a result of the action.

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