Proposal would demolish Kalamazoo restaurant for affordable housing space downtown

The potential project would be built at the current location of Rugger’s Up and Under Pub and Restaurant.

New affordable housing options could come to downtown Kalamazoo in the near future.

The area has been booming with big developments and ideas. However, the latest proposal could cost one local restaurant to be demolished.

Woda Cooper Companies, of Columbus, Ohio, is proposing to build a 49-unit apartment building. The potential project would be built at the current location of Rugger’s Up and Under Pub and Restaurant.

Jeff Chamberlain, deputy manager for the City of Kalamazoo, said downtown Kalamazoo is seeing a lot of new growth and change.

“Cities all across America are having a rebirth and Kalamazoo is one of them,” Chamberlain said.

Several construction projects for businesses, offices and parking continue to pop up in the area.

“We’re trying to work with developers to bring some affordable housing to those projects also, because we really want a mix of individuals, a mix of housing types to be downtown,” Chamberlain said.

Woda Cooper Companies is requesting a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT). The company will have to send its project plans and an application to the State of Michigan.

The company would be approved from low income tax credits if the state allows the proposal. Chamberlain explained that means Woda Cooper Companies would receive government dollars to build the affordable housing project.

“Some of those costs can be reimbursed back to the developer. So, it actually helps with their bottom line. We do that through tax abatements in the future,” Chamberlain said. “It’s a competitive application through the state of Michigan.”

Working singles, families and seniors who can’t afford living downtown may have their chance if this development happens. Woda Cooper Companies want to begin construction in April 2020 and finish by March 2021. Rent for the one- and two-bedroom apartments would range from $305 to $950 per month.

A representative from Up and Under said business will run as usual through April 2019. During that time, Chamberlain said the city will help developers to bring affordable housing downtown.

“Sometimes they have to make sure they have the right zoning in place, they have to get preliminary plan approvals,” Chamberlain said.

The deputy city manager explained the proposal is still in the very early stages. He said the city is looking forward to all possibilities for new housing and business.

“Every time you bring a new household downtown or in one of these neighborhoods, they bring with them their buying power. And not only that, it makes the place more vibrant,” said Chamberlain. Developers are starting to pay attention to that, and so here in Kalamazoo, we’re seeing more developers who are interested in not only office buildings but new housing and we think it’s a really positive sign.”

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