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Rising With the Sun, Eastside Is a Gateway to Downtown 

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If you traveled back in time 20 years, the one square mile sitting on top of a hill in Kalamazoo may be unrecognizable. Known as the Eastside Neighborhood, the place used to be home to upwards of 30 businesses, explained Neighborhood Association Director Pat Taylor. “As the years went by and the paper mills died down, it was kind of a forgotten type of geographic area,” said Pat. “We’ve lost a lot of businesses and services over on the Eastside. They either went to the outskirts of town or simply shuttered their doors.”

While the main streets look different, Pat said that the overall community has remained the same. “The neighborhood has always been friendly and helpful and family-oriented, but at the same time, there is a sense of privacy,” said Pat. “One of our slogans is, ‘The Sun Always Rises on the East Side,’ and when we think of the sunrise, we think of bright new days. We think of warmth. We think of green space which we have lots of.”

With a love of supporting others and cheering on the underdog, Pat took on the role of director 15 years ago. She is eager to begin implementing changes with the support of the city and local organizations including neighborhood enhancement, beautification, enhancing the quality of life, and encouraging more economic development. “One of our visions is to make it an inviting gateway so people can anticipate more exciting things to come,” said Pat. “We’re really excited that we have partners like the Land Bank and City of Kalamazoo, working with us and having a receptive ear to our ideas and us being able to brainstorm with them on what is sustainable for our neighborhood.”

In the coming month, visitors will see changes made to the neighborhood businesses’ exteriors through a façade improvement project. This project was developed in the hopes of developing a partnership between businesses, residents, and the greater community. “I don’t believe businesses should go it alone,” said Pat. “It should be a give and take. It should be a partnership between the neighborhood and the businesses.”

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