The Comprehensive Plan for the City of Kalamazoo is intended to direct "the future physical development of the community" by "serving as a policy guide to decision makers." Its overall intent is to provide employment and housing opportunities while preserving the quality of life and unique natural and manmade features of the City. The "Community Profile" of existing and projected conditions documents the background studies and analyses serving as the foundation for this Comprehensive Plan Update.
    The profile of The City of Kalamazoo, that appears below, highlights existing and projected conditions for the year 2015 based on the continuation of present trends. Tables ES-1 and ES-2 summarize existing and projected population, employment and land use characteristics. The most significant findings are that the amount of vacant land suitable for new urban development is very limited and the City is land-locked by surrounding jurisdictions. Other key facts by topical area are as follows:

1. Population, Housing and Economy

   a. Continuing Trend of Modest Population Decline, 1995 to 2015

  • 79,089 persons in the year 1995 compared to 80,277 persons in 1990; 79,722 persons in the year 1980 and 85,555 persons in the year 1970
  • 79,493 persons in the year 2015; 404 more people than the year 1995
  • 0.5 percent total decline or 0.025 percent per year

   b. Decline in the Number of Senior Citizens

  • 21.1% decrease in population over 64 years old

   c. Slower Decline in Household Sized.

   d.  Increased Concentration of Distressed Population

  • Lower percentage of City's residents graduated from high school than balance of the County
  • 64.3% of the County families in poverty live in the City
    91.3% of the County African-American families in poverty live in the City and 41.3% of the City's African-American families are in poverty

TABLE ES-1 Existing and Projected Population, Housing, and Employment

TABLE ES-2Existing and Projected Land Use for The City of Kalamazoo

e. Largest Contributers to New Housing is Rental Housing Development

  • 4,865 new housing units forecast during next 20 years to year 2015
  • Recent new housing for the university market
  • Multiple-family homes account for 89 percent of new units since 1980

f. Lack of Affordable Housing

  • Nearly 10% of the homeowners pay a disproportionate share of their income for housing (1,501 low-income and moderate-income households)
  • 73% of the moderate-income and low-income households that rent pay a disproportionate share of their income for housing (7,008 households)

g. Continuing Trend of Modest Employment Growth, 1995 to 2015

  • 4,017 new jobs over next 20 years
  • 37% of the City's labor force worked outside the City
    • City supplies labor to the balance of the County (and other counties) as the labor force in the City exceeded jobs in the City by 8.6% in 1990
  • Services Sector will show greatest growth and remain the largest employment sector

2. Land Use

a. All Neighborhoods Contain Multiple-Family Residential Uses

  • Modern apartment complexes can be found in nearly every neighborhood
  • Many large formerly single-family homes have been divided into multiple units
  • There are only three mobile home parks in the City

b. Housing Quality Issues in Several Areas

  • Housing quality problems are concentrated in north-central and east-central portions of the City
  • Isolated areas with housing quality issues are the Oakwood area south of downtown and the southeast portion of the City
  • Substantial resources have been committed to meeting the demand for affordable housing, but some low-income individuals continue to live in substandard housing

c. Multiple Commercial Areas and Corridors

  • General commercial uses are located along the City's major arteries
  • Commercial uses will focus on redevelopment given limited undeveloped land along major thoroughfares
  • Projected decline in the demand for retail space (about 130 acres) and office space for financial/insurance/real estate (about 33 acres) offset by demand for commercial land by the services sector (about 280 acres)
  • Downtown should avoid competition with suburban shopping malls and focus on specialty retail and service concerns
  • Existing neighborhood commercial uses are still needed

d. Strong Demand for Industrial Land

  • 525 acres needed for industrial expansion and relocation despite decline in industrial employment (reducing demand by 308 acres)
  • When older industrial uses cease operation, stronger consideration should be given to redevelopment for appropriate uses

e. Projected Need for Recreation Land

  • 149 acres - primarily community park land - are needed today

3. Transportation

a. Roads

  • Interstate access to and from Kalamazoo is via the I-94 and US 131 freeways
  • Business Loops of US 131 and I-94 are major connections through the City
  • Several thoroughfares need major widening to accommodate existing and future traffic such as -- Drake Road, Gull Road, Kilgore Road, Oakland Drive and Parkview Avenue and Sprinkle Road
  • Several future improvements are proposed to improve traffic flow such as the return of two-way streets to downtown, the Burdick Street/John Street Connector, the extension of Business Loop US 131 from Westnedge Avenue to Riverview Drive and others

b. Railroads

  • Amtrak east-west passenger rail service is available
  • Conrail and the Grand Trunk Western provide rail freight service
  • Abandoned and underutilized railroad right-of-way provide opportunities for non-motorized transportation such as extension of the Kal-Haven Trail through the City

c. Airports

  • Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport offers 25 daily flights

d. Intermodal Transportation

  • The Intermodal Transportation Center, located downtown, provides connections between AMTRAK and Greyhound and Indian Trail buses

e. Metro Transit System

  • Serves about 2,650 people per day accounting for about 2% of the work trips of City residents

4. Utilities

a. Adequate Sanitary Sewer Treatment Facilities for Immediate Future

  • The plant has a capacity of about 55 million gallons per day (MGD) and currently treats about 32 MGD
  • Plant serves most of the metropolitan area

b. Adequate Water Systems for Immediate Future

  • The system has a capacity of about 70 MGD and average usage is only 22 MGD
  • System serves most of the metropolitan area excluding other incorporated municipalities

c. One Utility Provides Power for the City

  • Rates are low compared to Southeast Michigan

5. Recreation Facilities

 a. Quality Issues Associated with Existing Facilities

  • Size limitations
  • Reliance on school sites
  • Reliance on leased facilities
  • Distribution of park sites
  • Need for barrier-free facilities

b. Given the Existing and Projected Population Additional Facilities are Still Needed

  • Additional tennis courts, volleyball courts and an archery range are needed
  • Greatest need is for a centrally located indoor multi-purpose community center

6. Community Facilities

a. Adequate Primary Education Facilities

  • Enrollment levels are stable and leveling off
  • Arcadia, Northglade, Spring Valley and Wenchell Elementary Schools are scheduled for major improvements over the next five years

b. Growth of Health Facilities and Services

  • Bronson Hospital will replace its existing facility with a new one to be completed by 2001

c. Need to Replace Older Public Safety Facilities

 7. Conservation

 a. Natural Environment Influences Development Patterns

  • Important water features are the Kalamazoo River and Portage and Arcadia Creeks
  • The Kalamazoo River corridor is of regional importance in providing drinking water and a habitat for plant and animal species
  • Other important natural areas include the belt of Moraines that form a ridge on the west side of the City and ponding areas along the Kalamazoo River

b. Rich Historical Preservation Heritage

  • Several designated historic districts
  • Very active "preservation community"

8. Intergovernmental Coordination

a. Coordination Occurs between Kalamazoo County, its Cities and Townships for Various General Purposes

  • Water and wastewater services through facility and wellhead protection planning
  • Public safety through mutual aid agreements and central dispatching
  • Metro Transit service provision to the metropolitan area
  • Street improvements through metropolitan transportation planning
  • Waste ordinances and hazardous waste materials clean-up
  • Environmental quality protection

b. Limited or No Coordinated Planning in Other Key Areas

  • Land use controls
  • Revenues
  • Capital Improvements

These findings will guide the development of community goals and objectives, and will assist in identifying and evaluating options to accommodate future growth in the process of updating the community's Comprehensive Plan.

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