Sydney Smith

Sydney Smith

Staff Writer, covers real estate and economic development
Twitter: @BizSyd
Email: [email protected]

Two department store properties in West Michigan will hit the auction block this month.

The Hinman Co. is expanding its property holdings with the acquisition of a downtown Kalamazoo building.

KALAMAZOO — A market aims to “fill the void of groceries” for those living in downtown Kalamazoo.

Even with a number of large-scale projects being built, West Michigan developers say they’re still thinking big for 2019. Multiple real estate and construction executives say they see no sign of the industry slowing down in the new year, although many believe companies’ focus could shift away from market-rate housing in downtown Grand Rapids. 

Rex Bell has served as president of Miller-Davis Co. for the last 22 years and has never seen a worker shortage like the company faces today. It’s a problem he expects to continue throughout 2019. With a busy year ahead for the Kalamazoo-based general contracting firm that focuses on higher education, K-12, nonprofit and industrial projects, he hopes for a renewed focus on training by companies and encouraging high school students to go into skilled trades.

For Housing Next Executive Director Ryan Kilpatrick, 2018 has been about laying the groundwork to get more affordable housing online in Ottawa County. Next year is “where the rubber hits the road,” when more than 600 new housing units will come online, with more yet in the pipeline, Kilpatrick said. Since January, Kilpatrick has worked with multiple municipalities to increase the amount of affordable housing in the county. He expects more tangible results to emerge in 2019. 

More so than many other areas of the country, West Michigan has experienced tremendous growth in 2018, according to Anirban Basu, who serves as the chief economist of the Associated Builders and Contractors, a national trade group. His outlook is less rosy for 2019, which could be a transitional year for the U.S. economy. Meanwhile, he thinks 2020 could be the beginnings of the next economic downturn. 

A new year means a fresh start for the Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership. Andrew Haan, president of the nonprofit organization, said with the beginning of the Downtown Economic Growth Authority and the rebranding of the Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership, formerly known as Downtown Kalamazoo Inc., there’s a more stable future moving forward as the city continues to grow. 

Catalyst Development Co. LCC’s latest project in Kalamazoo, located at the southwest corner of North Edwards Street and Water Street, will bring more housing, offices and parking spaces to the growing downtown, which could spark some more retail development in the area. That’s according to Managing Director and Vice President Patti Owens, who said she does not see a slowdown in development coming any time soon for the Kalamazoo area. 

After a busy year on K-12 school projects, Triangle Associates Inc. is expecting more of the same in 2019 with the passage of multiple school bonds in the November midterm election. According to Senior Vice President and Partner Mitch Watt, these long-term school projects will carry the general contractor in the event of a slowdown in the construction market.

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