WMU launches Colony Farms planning process, outlines next steps

contact: Cheryl Roland
| WMU News

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University this week began the process of identifying an architectural engineering firm to develop the infrastructure that will prepare the Colony Farms Orchard property to become Phase II of WMU's Business Technology and Research Park.

The 44-acre Colony Farm Orchard property is located at the northwest corner of Drake Road and Parkview Avenue, adjacent to U.S. 131. The University plans to expand its Business, Technology and Research Park on the property, which is near the existing business park. The original BTR Park, located just south of the acreage, has no room left for development.

WMU has advertised its intent and developed a Request for Qualifications it is seeking in a design firm. Following the qualifications screening, a Request for Proposal will be issued to qualified firms during the first week of September. The goal is to have a firm selected by Oct. 15.

Public comment sessions to be scheduled

According to Bob Miller, associate vice president for community outreach and point person on the BTR Park, planning is already underway to provide opportunities for public comment and questions once a firm is picked and before any design work is done. A number of steps in the design and development phase are already in the planning stages. The steps include:

  • Selection by the end of September of a project advisory committee to work with the selected firm, which will be made up of community members along with WMU faculty, staff and students.
  • A minimum of three public input sessions beginning in November as the design process begins, with a second in January to view the work's direction and a meeting in April to see final designs before construction documents are drawn up.  
  • Construction slated to begin in September 2016.
  • Completion of Phase II infrastructure construction by June 2017, with parcels available for development by private-sector partners immediately thereafter.

Miller says in addition to design prowess, one of the major qualifications the University is seeking as it makes its determination about a firm to hire is that its team be experienced in working with the public through public presentations or design charrettes.

Those interested in this development will have a number of opportunities to make their views known, provide feedback and have their questions answered, Miller says.

For more news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.