WMU News

Tentative Aboretum deal reached

June 10, 1999

KALAMAZOO -- The Western Michigan University Foundation, WMU and the City of Kalamazoo have reached a tentative new agreement on the 183-acre Arboretum housing project that is consistent with the approved development plan but will reduce its density by 15 percent and set aside 50 acres as public open space.

The agreement among the three parties will require approval by the City Commission. That action is expected within the next few weeks.

"We have listened to the concerns of the community and tried to be responsive to them," said WMU President Elson S. Floyd. "The new plans represent shared respect and effective communication between the city, its citizens and the University."

The revised plans call for a reduction in the number of housing units by 15 percent from 1,001 units to 850 units. A 50-acre parcel in the northeast corner of the property will be purchased for $450,000 by the city for public open space. The City of Kalamazoo also will provide infrastructure improvements to the public areas in the amount of $500,000.

"This is a win-win situation," said Kalamazoo City Manager Pat DiGiovanni. "The WMU Foundation is able to realize some proceeds from property it owns and the city can anticipate an increase in its tax base while preserving a significant portion of the property as public open space."

The WMU Foundation is entering into agreements with two developers for the property, located on the west side of Kalamazoo between Drake Road and Kendall Avenue.

One of them, the Capstone Development Corp. of Birmingham, Ala., will develop 240 apartment units for student-oriented housing on 18 acres just south of the American Youth Soccer Organization fields and east of the Dover Hills Apartments. The units will be accessed off both Drake Road and West Michigan Avenue. Construction would begin this summer.

The City of Kalamazoo Planning Commission will consider approval of the Capstone phase of the development at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 15, in the City Commission chambers at City Hall.

The other developer, United Homes of Rolling Meadows, Ill., will develop the remaining 115 acres in a combination of apartments and owner-occupied condominiums, town houses and single-family homes. This represents an increase in the number of units for sale from 41 percent, or 411 units, in the previous plan to 53 percent, or 450 units, in the modified plan. The increase is the result of conversion of some apartment units to condominiums.

"This is consistent with the goals of the comprehensive plan," said DiGiovanni.

WMU has agreed to pay the cost of a traffic study of the area and of installing a traffic signal at West Michigan and Emajean Avenue, if recommended by the traffic study. WMU also agreed to enter into discussion with the city regarding a cooperative venture to locate a new public safety station on the west side of Kalamazoo if a public safety needs study recommends a new station.

Media contact: Matt Kurz, 616 387-8400, matt.kurz@wmich.edu

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