Kalamazoo Valley Community College plans $42M campus downtown


Kalamazoo Valley Community College operates three campuses, with a total enrollment of about 12,500. Photo via fb.com

A site has been chosen in downtown Kalamazoo for a new health-focused campus of Kalamazoo Valley Community College — in partnership with Bronson Healthcare and Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

A downtown campus

KVCC plans to expand its curriculum to include training in organic food production, distribution and preparation — all part of the college’s efforts to increase community understanding of and access to healthy food and nutrition.

The new campus near Bronson Methodist Hospital will be developed on three separate parcels, totaling 13.3 acres, of unused land donated by Bronson Healthcare.

Three new facilities are planned: KVCC will develop one for food production and distribution; a second for nursing, allied health and culinary programs and the third will be a new psychiatric clinic for KCMHSAS.

Designs will be developed over the next several months and construction of the $42-million campus is expected to begin in spring 2014, with initial course offerings becoming available during 2015.

Linda Depta, a spokesperson for KVCC, said it was too soon to determine how many new jobs will be created or how many patients and new students will be at the new campus downtown, which does not yet have a name.

The property includes 8.4 acres along Crosstown Parkway east of the city of Kalamazoo’s Crosstown Center, 3.6 acres between Walnut and Dutton streets and 1.3 acres north of Crosstown Parkway and south of Dutton Street.

View Kalamazoo Valley Community College new downtown campus in a larger map

KVCC vision

“Working with our partners and multiple community groups, our goal will be to impact the health of our communities by providing the next generation of culinary and agriculture leaders with the skills and knowledge needed to work at the intersection of health, environmental and social concerns,” said Kalamazoo Valley President Marilyn Schlack.

“Kalamazoo Valley Community College has a nearly 50-year track record of investing not only in the lives of the students it serves, but the very community in which it operates,” Schlack said. “We expect that this generous gift from Bronson will spur redevelopment of currently underutilized space. We are welcoming others to join us, creating additional positive outcomes for the Vine and Edison neighborhoods and the entire community and region.

“We are very grateful to Bronson for its commitment to the project,” added Schlack, “and for making such a wonderful location available to us in the heart of the community.”

Kalamazoo partners

Mike Way, Bronson senior vice president, said, “This is the highest and best use of the land, the majority of which runs along Portage Creek and is not useful for hospital development. We look forward to having urban farming and production facilities nearby, along with training programs.”

Way said Bronson Methodist Hospital currently sources about 30 percent of food locally, and the initiative could help it hit its goal of 50 percent or greater in a few years.

Acknowledging the well-established link between diet and health, Kalamazoo Valley has been actively engaged with others in developing new strategies and solutions to improve health indicators in the region, including obesity, diabetes and pre- and post-cancer and mental health therapies.

“This collaborative venture is a very positive step toward a more healthy community that will provide a new, state-of-the-art psychiatric clinic, along with opportunities for those we serve and the community as a whole,” said KCMHSAS CEO Jeff Patton.

Bronson Healthcare President/CEO Frank Sardone said, “This is a great concept, and we applaud Kalamazoo Valley for championing it in our community. Being a partner in this initiative aligns with Bronson’s mission and values, which include a commitment as a locally owned and managed organization to help sustain the quality of life essential to a healthy regional community.”

Downtown development

Mike Collins, KVCC’s executive vice president of Academic and Student Services, said that in addition to the new buildings being planned, “We envision the complete redevelopment of the property, including landscaped walkways in an environmentally sensitive design, which will support other activities in the area. Conversations are underway with the city of Kalamazoo regarding the city’s plans for improvements to the Bank Street Farmers Market, which will complement the project.”

KVCC already has three other campuses: the main campus in Texas Township, southwest of Kalamazoo; the nearby Groves Campus and Arcadia Commons Campus, which is in downtown Kalamazoo and the location of Anna Whitten Hall, The Kalamazoo Valley Museum and the Center for New Media.

The Arcadia campus serves as a hub for a community, business and education partnership in a renovated and revitalized downtown area, according to KVCC’s website.

Kalamazoo Valley Community College was established in 1966 and has a total enrollment of about 12,500. 

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