Southwest Michigan Spark-November 2020

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and with the guidance of Byce and OCBA Inc., the Land Bank organized the first of several community input sessions. The responses were enthusiastic and impassioned. Over and over, residents expressed wishes for affordable, mixed-income housing; neighborhood services or business; and an attractive building that would make a statement on Portage Road.

The Kalamazoo Land Bank turns 10 as its very first transformational project, The Creamery, prepares to open its doors Ten years in the making, The Creamery, a nearly 60,000 square foot community-envisioned, mixeduse development in Edison, promises to help revitalize the neighborhood by providing affordable housing and much-needed round-the-clock quality drop-in childcare. As the Kalamazoo County Land Bank celebrates a decade of reusing, repurposing and reconnecting blighted property with the community, the agency is excited to see one of its formative projects come to fruition. “Some projects take longer than others while waiting for the right partners to come along,” said Land Bank Executive Director Kelly Clarke.

In 2010, shortly after the Land Bank’s formation, Clarke and Mary Balkema, KCLBA Board Chair and Kalamazoo County Treasurer, embarked on their very first property visit together to view the former Klover Gold Creamery Co., an abandoned, decaying building on the corner of Portage and Lake streets. After the buildings demolition, In partnership with the Edison Neighborhood Association,

“This was our first experience in listening to the community and providing platforms or how the community can envision their dreams for their neighborhoods,” said Clarke. This process of inviting resident participation and neighborhood leadership in community revitalization projects has become the Land Bank’s gold standard. In late August of this year, Land Bank staff were invited to tour the near-completed Creamery, which is scheduled to open in early 2021. The recent tour was a positive reminder of how “entities working together can make something that is bigger than the sum of their parts by bringing their unique capacities to the table,” said Clarke. A LEED Platinum Certified building, one of only two such certified in the state, The Creamery will be home to 48 studio, one and two-bedroom affordable housing units; a YWCA 24-hour childcare facility; and retail space that may include a small business accelerator and new offices of the developer, Hollander Development Corporation. The $14.2 million three-story project has had many hands and hearts involved since the original building’s demolition in 2011.

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