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The Kalamazoo Promise is Promising for Real Estate

11:56 PM, Jan 20, 2006   |    comments
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The housing market in many parts of the country is slowing down. But not in Kalamazoo, Michigan. There, it's heating up. The Kalamazoo Promise got national attention in November when school district officials announced free college tuition for many students. Now, realtors and home builders in Kalamazoo are attracting attention from around the state, and the country. Signs of the Kalamazoo Promise are evident all around town. Next to many for sale signs, you'll see signs that promise free college tuition. Real Estate Agent Gayle Zientek says, “The Kalamazoo Promise just came around at the right time for us." She raised her three children in a home on Douglas in Kalamazoo. They all attended and graduated from Kalamazoo Schools. Now, Zientek is selling the home to a buyer with a school aged child, who started looking in Kalamazoo after the promise was announced. And Zientek says this buyer is not alone. She says, “People considering moving out of Kalamazoo have decided, no we're going to stay and move within the Kalamazoo boundaries." The biggest selling point in Kalamazoo right now may be ... location, location, location. That's what builder Allen Edwin Homes is counting on. Allen Edwin Senior Vice President Greg DeHaan says, “Purchasing land in the Kalamazoo School District was not on the boards. We're heavily invested in many areas surrounding the area. But, we had not had the demand that we're seeing now." Now, Allen Edwin Homes is planning to build 500 new homes in the Kalamazoo district in the next five years. Twenty to thirty of those should be ready for sale before the end of this school year. Before the Kalamazoo Promise was announced, one neighborhood on Rock Valley Drive was mostly full of empty lots. Now there's a building boom going on, Allen Edwin started construction on five houses just a few weeks ago. Neighbor John Bolhuis says, “We didn't know how long it would take to fill this neighborhood. And now, it appears that things are moving along quite rapidly." That's good news for neighbors like Bolhuis, even though he doesn't have children. He says, “If the area is more desirable, it could be easier to sell the house, later, if we chose to do that. If this attracts business to the area, that means more better jobs, so that's always a benefit." Allen Edwin homes recently spent $7 million dollars on land in the Kalamazoo School District, to build new homes. The Kalamazoo Public Schools are already seeing increases in enrollment, and the district is preparing for even more students to start in the fall.

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