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Kalamazoo - An Exciting Place to Be!

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Over the last few years, Kalamazoo has been experiencing such positive news. This can be seen not only in the real estate market but also in the continued investments in our community. Southwest Michigan is incredibly vibrant and deserves more recognition. Although our outstanding schools are one of the many reasons the area is considered a great place to raise a family, that’s not all we have to offer! Many exciting initiatives at the end of 2015 will present new interest and opportunities for all generations.

Although there are many factors that contribute to the cost of living in any community, the real estate market is a major pillar. 2014-2015 brought the best year we’ve seen in real estate, and it continues to climb. 2014 was considered the recovery year in home sales, but 2015 was even better. In 2015 we experienced above healthy levels of home sales every single month.

On a national scale and on a local level, we are experiencing a deficit in inventory. Why is this good news? This deficit has caused home prices to go up. Prices have returned to the level before the decline of the market, with Michigan projected to experience almost a 4 percent appreciation. As a nation and a community, we need to stop using the word recovery, and start using the word recovered!

Southwest Michigan has been fostering growth of numerous national and international companies in recent years. More than $200 million dollars in cooperate expansions were planned for 2015-2016 in our area, between Denso, FAiST Light Metals, Landscape Forms, Summit Polymers, Whirlpool, Hanson Logistics, and many more. Over $175.8 billion in corporate acquisitions are in the works among Pfizer, Zoetis, and Newell Rubbermaid. Although no one knows the exact ramifications of what this will mean for Kalamazoo County, we do know one thing - it’s always positive news to see our corporate partners growing and doing well.

One of the main reasons many will agree Kalamazoo is such a great place to raise a family, is because of our outstanding school districts. Our schools are constantly growing and ranking among the best in the nation. A new K-5 academy (eventually K-8) has started construction and is planned to open by the fall of this year. This new academy is an environmentally focused charter school, located on 40 acres in Oshtemo Township. At the higher education level, K-College announced a $9 million dollar fitness center. KVCC’s Wellness and Sustainability campus a $54 million dollar project, is close to completion as a beautiful new development. WMU and KVCC have also announced a new degree in craft brewing. While there have been many jokes about this new degree, the truth is that Michigan’s craft brewing has a $1 billion dollar impact on the nation, ranking 10th among other states.

In July, a study commissioned by many local organizations showed an increasing need for residential housing in downtown Kalamazoo. The good news is that we have several projects underway. The Walbridge Commons is a great project that is taking an old building and redeveloping it into a community asset. This unique project is utilizing micro space rather than large, luxury space to help keep rent prices low in the downtown area. This project is located in an area that has already seen extensive updating and renovation. Harrison Circle Development, a $15 million dollar investment, will include both residential and commercial uses. In addition to these residential developments, Crosstown Commons, a $2.2 million dollar project, that will convert old buildings into a new 23,000 square foot retail/commercial center. These exciting developments are essential to the expansion of our downtown area, and will certainly be utilized by our growing community.

Kalamazoo is growing, and along with developments of housing to accommodate that growth, developments of leisure are equally as important to sustaining the community. The Tanger Outlet although not directly in Kalamazoo, help provide an alternative for people in this area who love to shop. Kalamazoo continues to add new unique restaurants and cuisine, including the opening of Principle this past year, and the upcoming opening of Maru Sushi & Grill. Our microbreweries also continue to grow, with Tibbs Brewing Co. and PawPaw Brewing Company expanding their locations in the next year. Natural development is also growing as Kalamazoo has become a biking/walking community. The City of Portage has committed to adding paved roads throughout the Eliason Nature Reserve Trail, a 123 acre reserve off of Shaffer Road. The Riverfront Garden & Launch, located in front of Arcadia Brewing Company, will also be an exciting new development for kayakers and canoers.

There are so many positive initiatives taking place in Kalamazoo, these seem to barely skim the surface. My hope is that our community continues to talk about these interesting things going on around us. These developments and advancements are what attract people to our area, and persuade people to stay. Let’s not let these gems go unnoticed. It’s an exciting time to live in Kalamazoo - let’s start spreading the word!

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