Kalamazoo considers new way to help struggling downtown development authority

Kalamazoo considers new way to help struggling downtown development authority. (WWMT/File)

Kalamazoo city leaders are looking to generate new revenue for a struggling Downtown Development Authority (DDA), the group developing and maintaining the downtown area.

The DDA lacks sufficient revenue sources to maintain the downtown people enjoy everyday, according to city leaders.

"It's not necessarily being in debt, its about being able to meet current obligations. There aren't enough resources to keep downtown up as far as maintenance goes," Kalamazoo City Manager Jim Ritsema said.

The city believes they have found a way to solve the revenue problem.

Growing downtown Kalamazoo is an expensive effort that city leaders committed to when they approved a decade-long master plan in October 2017. The plan that includes general goals such as preserving historical neighborhoods and flood mitigation.

Ritsema said the financial issues at the DDA stem from the great recession in 2008 and plummeting property values. The main solution on the table is creating a new authority that generates more tax revenue.

"It's no tax increase on anyone in the district but it's where those taxes go once they are collected," Ritsema said.

The DDA would not be dissolved, but would oversee another taxing authority called the Downtown Kalamazoo Economic Growth Authority. Ritsema said that authority would allow the city to use more tax money on downtown development.

"Roads and sidewalks and all those features people appreciate when people come to the downtown," he said.

The overall goal would be the expansion and improvement of downtown, as well as marketing and business recruitment.

Leaders are looking for community input on improving downtown and have scheduled time for public comments on the idea during the Aug. 6 Kalamazoo City Council meeting.

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