Economic Development, Higher Education, and Real Estate

University eyes extending urban land deal

July 31, 2014
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A partial view of downtown Kalamazoo’s skyline, including the landmark Radisson Plaza Hotel at Kalamazoo Center. Photo via wikimedia.org

A university is ready to negotiate an extension to its agreement with an urban real estate development nonprofit, concerning a four-block parcel of downtown land the school owns in the region.

Western Michigan University said last week that its board of trustees has authorized the administration to negotiate and execute an extension to the set of development agreements between WMU and Downtown Tomorrow Inc., or DTI, for the Cole-Gilmore property in downtown Kalamazoo — a nearly four-acre site, south of W. Kalamazoo Avenue and east of N. Westnedge Avenue.

The deal

Set to expire on Sept. 30, the development agreements between WMU and DTI, which owns land adjacent to the Cole-Gilmore property, prohibit either organization from selling their parcels without the express consent of the other.

The agreements also state that DTI has the ability to purchase the land from WMU for $1 if the university doesn’t begin development on the land before the contract’s expiration date, but DTI would then assume responsibility of the $1.52-million mortgage.

WMU said “both sides are interested in a one-year extension to the current set of agreements.”

DTI

DTI serves as the real estate development and fundraising arm of Downtown Kalamazoo Inc.

DTI oversees the acquisition, management and development of properties.

Prior to the board’s decision, WMU was negotiating the acquisition of DTI’s nearby land parcels, about five acres, but "terms could not be agreed upon."

Land gift

WMU originally acquired the four-block parcel of land in 2001 when the school entered into an agreement with Gesmundo-Cole-Gilmore, GSG LLC and DTI to receive the land as a gift, with the goal of establishing a university presence in the area in the future, according to board of trustees 2001 meeting minutes.

WMU

WMU, founded in 1903, operates three campuses in Kalamazoo and regional locations across Michigan: Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Battle Creek, Benton Harbor, Lansing, Traverse City and Detroit.

As of fall 2013, more than 24,000 students were enrolled at the university.

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