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Kalamazoo’s $100 million quarry, tech hub takes shape in new renderings

KALAMAZOO, MI — Development plans are due next week for the new vocational and technical training being built in Kalamazoo, funded by a $100 million grant.

Documents submitted to the City of Kalamazoo show the planned educational facility, through a handful of three-dimensional renderings and a virtual flyover.

A site plan review is scheduled for Wednesday, September 7 for the new Kalamazoo Regional Educational Services Agency school site at 3500 VanRick Drive in the Milwood neighborhood of Kalamazoo. It is next to the Wings Event Center and close to Interstate 94 (I-94). The site plan review is a virtual meeting with applicants and their representatives.

Architectural renderings show a 101,655 square foot building with separate employee parking and another larger parking lot that will connect to the existing Wings Events Center parking lot.

Related: Schematic Designs Released for New Career and Technology Center in Kalamazoo County

Wightman’s Director of Architecture, Greg Monberg, told MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette that the building was designed with community input in mind. The intention is to help students gain the skills they need to find good jobs straight out of high school, he said.

“They’re not concrete boxes,” he said of the design. Wightman is the project architect and DLR Group is the design architect, Monberg said.

The design helps to bring together different areas of study instead of separating them, for example by dividing them into separate areas, as in some designs of the past.

“This learning commonplace interconnects all programs for real sharing and collaboration,” Monberg said, and the design is intended to support those kinds of connections.

The collaborations will include things like an agricultural program growing food that can be prepared and served in the culinary program, he said. Another idea is a collaboration between the transportation and culinary programs to create a food truck that could visit area high schools that will feed the school, he said.

A discovery trail will run through the building, Monberg said. The design aims to send the message to students that the community values ​​them and their education, he said.

Plans show that elements of the overall design include a greenhouse, a welding yard, a bus landing, a reception area, a transport yard, a construction yard, an outdoor event space, an outdoor plaza, a industrial/event space and a main entrance. The plan also shows an area available for future expansion.

During the school day, the Career Center will only host high school vocational technical training courses.

“For our students to graduate fully prepared for the future, they will need a world-class education that will provide them with in-demand skills, industry-recognized credentials, and experiences that lead to successful employment,” said Tom, acting superintendent of the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Services Agency. Zahrt told MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette on August 30.

Related: Vision for New Career, Technical Education Center for Kalamazoo County Students Revealed

Revamping Kalamazoo County’s vocational education system will allow KRESA to provide a unique opportunity for a diverse group of area students that aligns educators with employers, he said.

“It is exciting to be able to bring together educators, industry and community partners to design a world-class system that will foster cross-sector cooperation and include historically non-traditional students, leading to a brighter future for our community” , Zahrt said.

During after-school hours, the career center will also be open to the wider community to provide employability and job training opportunities for adults and partnerships with local employers, the Regional Employment Agency said. Kalamazoo Educational Services.

After the site plan review next week, the project will also have to go through another site plan approval for construction of the building, scheduled for later this year, Wightman said.

Citizens can provide feedback on the plans to the city by emailing

The Kalamazoo Regional Educational Services Agency shared a digitally rendered virtual tour of the space:

Donors of $100 million to the school asked not to be named, Southwest Michigan First previously said, and they asked the economic development organization to act as their representative in the transfer of ownership. and funds.

The land was also donated for the school. Public records show ownership transferred from Catalyst Development LLC to Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency for $0 in April.

Catalyst Development is the property development and management arm of Greenleaf Hospitality Group. Bill Johnston is Chairman, CEO and President of Greenleaf, headquartered in Kalamazoo. Catalyst had owned the land since 2007. Wings Event Center is also part of Greenleaf.

Planned Career Center course offerings are designed to provide industry-recognized credentials, as well as develop essential 21st century skills in collaboration, communication, problem solving, critical thinking, and learning. self-management, Southwest Michigan First previously said.

The institution’s goal is to ensure that students, once they leave the institution, can access well-paying jobs and earn enough to live on and progress in their chosen career, said George Kacan of Wightman.

“It’s going to give students a career that will give them a future,” Kacan said. He is the main person in charge of the project.

The new facility is expected to open in the fall of 2024, according to early estimates. However, it is difficult to predict changes in the labor market, supply chain and other pandemic-related obstacles that could delay construction, the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Services Agency said on a dedicated page. to the project.

A list of new courses offered after the installation was completed was recommended by a steering committee to the KRESA school board. Changes to the Vocational Technical Education curriculum would come into effect in the fall of 2024, when the institution is expected to open.

Work on the site is expected to start in September, Monberg said. Another approval will be needed for the building’s construction site plan, Monberg said, and the building will go to tender in December.

Area employers are also interested in the school and are working to provide input and collaboration, Kacan said.

“They see it as a pipeline,” Kacan said.

A new school will be funded through an anonymous donation of $100 million. A site plan is scheduled for Wednesday, September 7 for site work at the new Kalamazoo Regional Educational Services Agency (KRESA) school. Project design and renderings by Wightman, the project architect, and DLR Group, the design architect.

The October 2021 donation announcement was the third anonymous multi-million dollar donation announced last year.

Anonymous donation commitments due to the various entities total more than one billion dollars. Some of the amounts will be received over several years.

In June 2021, anonymous donors gave Western Michigan University $550 million.

The City of Kalamazoo announced in August 2021 that its Foundation for Excellence had received a $400 million donation, which will be structured into $40 million per year over 10 years, and will be combined with the $100 million already raised. , for a total of $500 million for the fund. donation. Johnston is one of the first donors to the Foundation For Excellence.

The dollar amount for the new Kalamazoo Regional Educational Services Agency school is more than the cost of the $95 million Kalamazoo County Courthouse being built. The courthouse is the largest capital expenditure the county has ever made, council chairman Mike Quinn told MLive previously.

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