Dividing Downtown into 3 Districts
Thank you for your interest in the Downtown Zoning Code Update. With the limitations of gatherings, we are seeking your ideas through different tools, including this survey. This first activity will be dividing Downtown into three district areas. To start the discussion City staff has created a draft map of how it could be divided and is asking you to review it, confirm, or adjust it, and make decisions between districts in noted locations.
Before starting the survey please watch the kick off video or read the background text below (You may need to click "Read More"). This presentation serves as the project introduction and provides you with information useful to completing the survey. The presentation video is just under 9 minutes.
When you are ready to begin the survey please click "Take the Survey" below. The survey takes about 15 minutes to complete. We look forward to seeing you in person later this summer and thank you for giving us your input now.
If you need assistance please call our engagement hotline at 269-226-6524
You can learn more about all the zoning districts being discussed here: Zoning Types & Descriptions.
Why are we updating the code?
The City of Kalamazoo last updated its zoning code in 2005. Since that time, the City completed 2 new Master Plans, the most recent in 2017, setting the vision for the Kalamazoo moving forward. It is time to update the code to reflect this vision, be clear and understandable to all users, and providing a predictable outcome for development projects. This summer the City is reviewing the zoning for Downtown Kalamazoo.
Current Downtown Zoning
Downtown is currently zoned CCBD (Commercial Central Business District ) This one size fits all approach for such a large and diverse area makes it difficult meet the vision for Downtown Kalamazoo, as described in the 2025 Master Plan - Downtown Life. The 2025 Master Plan described a downtown that meets housing needs, has a thriving business community, is an active and inviting place, and is accessible by any means of travel.
The use of one, large zoning district has the following impacts on these goals:
- Limits the ability to support different types of housing. For example, row or attached houses are not appropriate in the center of the Kalamazoo Mall, but would be great on other streets and as the Downtown core shifts to the adjacent neighborhoods.
- Prevents the use of best zoning practices to support economic vitality and the active Downtown core because all areas are treated the same. For example, limiting uses on the ground or first floor of a building that are not active (such as residential or parking) on key blocks can support the economic health by limiting quiet or dead spaces and creating inviting stretches of activity. Having these limitations throughout all of Downtown could stifle the market causing increase in vacancies.
- Doesn’t take into account the impact streets and buildings have on one another. The City is wrapping up a community process on Street Design, with a focus on the Downtown street network. Through this process, it was clear that streets serve different travels in different ways – the Kalamazoo Mall is different than Kalamazoo Avenue is different than Edwards Street is different than Academy Street. The buildings and uses on these streets should also differ as a result.
It is also time to review and update the Downtown zoning to consider how the zoning works with the guidelines of the Downtown Design Review Committee (DDRC) that also shape development projects in Downtown. The 2025 Master Plan calls for zoning that incorporates form-based standards, like those that currently exist from the DDRC, and for development processes that are streamlined with clear predictable outcomes. A review and update are required to meet these Master Plan tasks.
How are we updating the code?
This summer we will be engaging the community on Downtown zoning. The first discussion will focus on dividing Downtown into three districts. Once divided, a discussion on permitted uses, including such topics as ground or first floor uses and marihuana business locations, and physical standards, such as height or parking location, will occur.
Later this summer, the standards and the maps will be combined in a complete draft that will be reviewed and confirmed before being discussed at the City Planning Commission and City Commission. More information on the project and timeline can be found at www.imaginekalamazoo.com.
More information on zoning best practices
If you wish to learn more about recommended planning practices for supporting Downtowns and areas of walkable, mixed use development. Please check out any of the following:
Designing at the Ground Level. The importance of the first floor of a building.
Strategies for Good Urban Retail. Discusses focusing retail in key area and then being flexible with uses around these key blocks.