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Battle Creek unveils new vision
BATTLE CREEK — Battle Creek Unlimited economic development organization today announced a five-pronged plan to leverage current and future investments in food science, technology and education to revitalize and grow Battle Creek’s downtown business district. BCU officials estimated the revitalization plan could require more than $86 million in new investment and are looking into various public and private sources of funding.
The vision includes:
- A new six-story, LEED-certified office building to be financed and constructed by a local developer McCamly Office LLC and leased long-term by Kellogg Co. The estimated $22.5 million project would enable Kellogg to relocate approximately 600 employees from its Porter Street office complex to downtown Battle Creek. The office tower would likely be operational in 2010.
- Infrastructure improvements to enhance the aesthetics of downtown, including a gateway enhancement project on M-66, lighting improvements and more useable public spaces.
- A research center to be established to promote the creation and attraction of new companies and jobs by increasing research, development and commercialization of new technologies in food sciences and food protection.
- Possible relocation and expansion of the Battle Creek Area Math and Science Center, which is operated by Battle Creek Public Schools.
- Creation of a first-class fitness and recreation center downtown through collaboration between the Battle Creek Y-Center and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, which is now underway.
“The increased concentration of people and spending power will benefit our existing businesses and will also enable us to attract additional restaurants, retail, professional offices and residential activity,” said Karl Dehn, BCU’s marketing director.
As part of the plan, the W.K. Kellogg foundation has approved up to $35 million to support various aspects of the redevelopment. Foundation President and CEO Sterling Speirn said the money will be invested as opportunities arise that resonate with the foundation’s mission and vision. Kellogg has a rich legacy of funding food science and healthy living programs, as well as education, Speirn said.
“We’re particularly excited about the potential for building a community that actively engages scientists, young people and educators in learning and discovery around the critical issues of food supply and safety,” Speirn said. “By building on both our legacy and existing community assets, this project will help position Battle Creek as a world leader in food science research and place innovation at the center of the community’s ongoing downtown revitalization efforts.”