Riverview Launch is a community space, designed to highlight the impact of transforming blighted spaces, the beauty of sustainable design, and the power of community engagement. It offers an opportunity for community partners to provide programs and services that promote healthy lifestyles, and creates a hub of activity for people from around Kalamazoo to meet, work, and play.
The old Riverside Greenhouse, a family-owned business since 1915, was forced to close and left behind buildings that needed TLC and a new purpose. The property comprises approximately six acres fronting the Kalamazoo River, which housed a vacant and tax foreclosed blighted structure on an underutilized portion of the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail. The Kalamazoo County Land Bank took over the main portion of the site in 2012.
In 2013, listening sessions with community stakeholders, a planning charette, and a community open house provided an opportunity for the Kalamazoo County Land Bank Authority to hear ideas from over 80 community members and stakeholders as they worked to imagine the possibilities for this space.
Stakeholders supported re-purposing the space as a vibrant, active hub for youth programs and community activities. Community leaders and residents called for sustainable approaches to redevelopment including restoration of areas with native plantings, green building design and space for people to stop and enjoy the trail and river.
After many meetings, planning sessions, and countless hours of volunteer work, the site started taking shape in 2014. Construction started late in 2014 and finished in 2015, with a final “unveiling” at the grand opening on September 10, 2015. The site now includes:
- An historic barn that serves as a gathering center for bikers, runners, walkers, community garden and growing enthusiasts, and others in the community.
- Office and meeting spaces that provide flexible and unique working areas for tenants, as well as a revenue stream to help support maintenance and ongoing expenses at the site.
- A newly renovated greenhouse, which is dedicated to providing year-round growing space for programs that allow people the opportunity to get hands-on with native plants.
- A Monarch waystation, rain gardens, a native bee “condo,” native plant restoration, perennial gardens, walking paths, informational signs, and space for event rentals.