WMU News

WMU research center is part of proposed redevelopment

May 20, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- If the current proposal becomes reality, Western Michigan University will be a major community partner in a $70 million redevelopment of the Crown Vantage paper mill brownfield site in the neighboring community of Parchment.

Parchment Mayor Daniel Degraw unveiled the proposal, which calls for a mixed-use redevelopment of the 256-acre site, anchored by a new National Brownfields Redevelopment Research Center, which would be led by WMU researchers.

The redevelopment has been dubbed, "The Community at Riverbend," and calls for a master-planned mixed-use complex, which will include housing, office space, a job retraining site, retail and recreational opportunities and the WMU-led national research center.

"Make no mistake about it, a project of this magnitude will require a hurculian public/private effort, and we will need the strong support and help of both our federal and state elected officials if we are going to be successful," said DeGraw. "We have taken the first steps by assembling a private sector investor willing to
invest in this $70 million project and the local leaders in our county and community who are willing to stand with us in support of this national brownfield redevelopment showcase."

Under the proposal, funding for the plan would come from a partnership of federal, state, and private monies and programs, according to Joseph Moch, president of Riverbend LLC, the developer of the project and a WMU alumnus. Moch has indicated his intent to donate the Crown Vantage headquarters building to Western Michigan University to serve as the new headquarters for the National Brownfield Redevelopment Research center, once the project is off the ground.

It is estimated that "The Community at Riverbend" could generate more that $2.2 million annually in tax revenue to the city of Parchment and Kalamazoo County and could have in excess of a $250 million
impact annually on the southwestern Michigan economy. In addition to business and retail buildings, the site could provide housing for an estimated 388 families in single-family homes, town houses, condominiums and apartments. Plans also call for recreational development, including an extension of the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail, which currently terminates one mile south of the site and development of an 18-hole golf course.

"The National Brownfield Redevelopment Research Center will be a living laboratory for brownfield redevelopment and a natural outgrowth to the substantial Kalamazoo River watershed research already under way through the university's Environmental Institute," said Robert G. Miller, WMU associate vice president for community outreach. "This site would provide us with the ability to generate new techniques for successful redevelopment, monitor their impact on the environment and pass the information on to be used at brownfield sites throughout the country."

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
269 387-8400