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Kalamazoo Community Foundation moving to ex-depot

Kalamazoo Community Foundation in process of making former Arcus Depot building its home

Posted on July 1, 2014 at 4:17 a.m.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — The Kalamazoo Community Foundation is busy making the former Arcus Depot building its own.

Renovation work on the 15,756-square-foot structure started in early May and is expected to be completed in August, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette (http://bit.ly/1nXTLbG ).

Tom Vance, director of marketing communications for the foundation, said it will provide new office and meeting space for the community foundation and its 30 workers, as well as meeting space for those in the community who are partnering with the organization on ideas.

“The working areas between the columns, will have staff not only working in ‘open’ areas,” Vance said in an email, “but we are mixing our staff up, so within one area, or neighborhood, there will be a combination of donor relations and community investment staff, along with the communications and finance people too.”

The Kalamazoo Community Foundation has leased space for more than 40 years on the third floor of the Comerica Building, about a half-mile to the west. Founded in 1925, the community foundation attempts to address community needs in greater Kalamazoo as they relate to: early childhood learning and school readiness; economic and community development; individuals and families; and youth development.

The organization manages approximately $438 million in assets.

The Arcus Foundation gave the office building to the Kalamazoo Community Foundation last year along with a one-time grant of $1 million to help with the renovation and community foundation’s transition.

“We will be spending the $1 million provided by the Arcus Foundation on the renovation and our relocation,” Vance said, “plus an additional $750,000 provided by a small group of donors who gave specifically for our new home.”

Five nonprofit organizations that had utilized space in the building along with the Arcus Foundation have relocated and found other homes since Arcus announced the gift last July.

Separate office spaces that those organizations used on the ground level of the building will become open space for community foundation workers.

Vance said the “wintergarden” area of the former Arcus Depot building, an airy, glass-enclosed gathering space with an arched, 28-foot-high ceiling, will remain primarily unchanged. The radius area at the top of four of the structure’s 8-foot-tall barn doors will become glass to allow more natural light. Such doors, which now have the appearance of huge shuttered windows, allowed house-drawn wagons and, later, trucks to back up to the station and pick up cargo. There are six of them in total.

The two-story portion of the building, which housed the offices of the Arcus Foundation, will be used for meeting space. The office of Jon Stryker, founder of the Arcus Foundation, will be converted into a workout facility for members of the foundation’s staff. The area has a second-floor walk-out terrace.

Vance said the main entrance to the building will be on its south side, rather than from the north, as it was previously.

Carrie Pickett-Erway, president and chief executive officer of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, said, “As we work to increase our focus on impacting the community, we firmly believe the best way to do that is to be present and engaged in the community. This street-level presence will help us bring people into our space. Our emphasis on collaboration inspired us to go from the three meeting rooms we currently have to 12 as a resource for our community partners. Meanwhile, just as we want to increase our engagement with the community, our open office concept will facilitate increased collaboration among our staff.”

She has said that the value that having a permanent location that the foundation owns, is tremendous. And making that home in the iconic former depot building “will deepen our connection to grantees, donors and community groups.”

For 75 years, until 1954, the depot building handled passenger train traffic and warehoused cargo shipments, serving as the Grand Rapids & Indiana Depot and Freight House. Rich Paff, project supervisor for general contractor Miller Davis Co., said there was a depot building on the site in 1871 that burned and was replaced by the structure built in 1874.

In 1963, the facility became the Whistle Stop restaurant/nightclub and continued as such until the mid-1980s. It was purchased in 2002 by Jon Stryker, working as Depot Landmark LLC, and underwent an extensive, $2 million rehabilitation. That included the installation of a new roof, new footings, masonry and structural repairs. It was opened in 2005 and donated to the Arcus Foundation.

Founded in 2000 by Jon Stryker, the Arcus Foundation works to advance social justice causes and address conservation issues. Key among those is its work to advance lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality, and to conserve and protect the great apes. It has had offices in New York City for quite some time and continues to operate from there as well as Cambridge, in the United Kingdom.

The nonprofits that relocated from the building:

— ISAAC (Interfaith Strategy for Advocacy & Action in the Community) moved to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in downtown Kalamazoo.

— Fair Housing Center of Southwest Michigan moved to the Cornerstone Building in downtown Kalamazoo.

— Parent to Parent relocated into shared space with other nonprofits.

— Advocacy Services for Kids moved to Balch Street.

— Kalamazoo River Watershed Council moved into city of Kalamazoo space.

Information from: Kalamazoo Gazette, http://www.mlive.com/kalamazoo


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