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Shaping Our Square
Neighborhood Walkabout: November 2005
This planning process began by walking the neighborhood with architect Isaac Norris, urban planner Jay
Hoekstra and several neighborhood stakeholders.  Results of that event are

Isaac Norris, Isaac V. Norris Architect
Jay Hoekstra, Grand Valley Metro Council
George VanderLaan, Breton Auto Body Shop
Sandra Latham, Southeast End Neighborhood Association
Jim Nienhuis, Fuller Area Neighbors
Garry Reenders, Fuller Area Neighbors
George Vander Weit, Fuller Area Neighbors
Bob Veenstra, Fuller Area Neighbors
Tom Bulten, Oakdale Neighbors

A Planning Walkabout is an opportunity to walk a neighborhood and make observations about strengths,
weakness, and opportunities of the neighborhood.  This walkabout began at the Oakdale Neighbors’ office at
1260 Kalamazoo SE.  It proceeded south on Kalamazoo to Boston/Fuller, north on Fuller to Adams, west on
Adams to Kalamazoo, and north on Kalamazoo to Hall.

Jay Hoekstra of the Grand Valley Metropolitan Council and Isaac Norris participated as design professionals
(Isaac also participated as a neighbor).

Several observations were made during the walk:
  1. empty spaces should be filled with houses or townhouses
  2. Kalamazoo @ Noble
  1. Traffic should be slowed here
  1. A median could be put in here?
  2. Parking/curb bulbouts?
  3. Trees to define the space
  1. Kalamazoo @ Oakdale and Adams
  1. Consolidate the residential areas
  2. residential area could be made MORE residential
  1. more attractive to live there
  2. trees
  1. The former Boston House could become a flower/knick/knack shop with a stage coach theme.
  1. Kalamazoo @ Evergreen
  1. This is a mixture of houses and businesses
  1. Kalamazoo @ Boston/Fuller
  1. This area could use a coffeeshop or another Boston Square restaurant
  2. Other retail (rather than office space) could help make this place a center and destination.
  3. Outdoor seating could be provided in front of Sam’s Oasis
  1. Oliver’s Market
  1. Trash, glass
  2. Allegations of selling alcohol to minors
  3. “it’s a bad neighborhood anyway”
  1. Fuller @ Adams Park Apartments
  1. Much open space here that could be used/densified
  1. Townhouses could be placed in front of the apartments.
  1. A pleasant walkway could be created from the apartments to the businesses.

Other observations and generalizations were made after the walk in debriefing:
  1. Street design is needed that
  1. Complements / supports uses
  2. Slows traffic
  1. The neighborhood has available space.
  2. The neighborhood has valuable architecture.
  3. Commercial land uses (retail properties) should be clustered to create positive, lively outdoor spaces.
  4. Attractive places attract residents/businesses
  5. We should transform barren space with “defined” spaces
  6. People like to go to PLACES.
  7. Businesses should face other businesses.
  8. Retail space can be combined with townhouses.
  9. Development/developers require or are attracted to increased value through:
  1. Aggregated properties
  2. Zoning approvals
  1. Proactive planning is more valuable than reactive action.
  2. Ownership of property is a tough/tricky issue when development is being conceived/planned.
  3. Using storefronts as offices/storage is negative.
  4. Bulbouts can be used to create on-street parking.
  5. Walkability is enhanced by:
  1. Smooth sidewalks
  2. Defined parking
  3. Slowed cars
  4. Trees to enclose the roadway
  5. Place-making
  1. Some local developers could make interesting observations about the opportunities along Kalamazoo:
  1. Mark Muller
  2. Guy Bazzani
  3. Jim Reminga