Multi-Million Dollar Redevelopment in Store for Downtown Okemos
OKEMOS - On May 24, 2018, a press conference was held at the Four Corners in Downtown Okemos in Meridian Township to discuss the redevelopment soon to take place. The redevelopment is being called New Spaces, Hometown Faces and is being led by True North Development.
Anchoring the new development will be Douglas J. Aveda Institute and Salons. This business has been local to Okemos since 1967, when the first salon was opened under the name Village Hair Shoppe. As a part of the anchoring deal, Douglas J. is investing more than $3 million into the project.
"My parents' company has been a part of the fabric of the community for many years," Scott Weaver, President and CEO of Douglas J. Company, said. "Mom and Dad had a vision 20 plus years ago of a walkable community in downtown, with residential, retail, and professional all inclusive. So when this property became available six or seven years ago, my brother TJ and myself jumped at it, saying, 'Hey, we can acquire that to start of the process of building a mixed use community down here.'"
Meridian Township, being led by Director of Community Planning & Development Mark Kieselbach and Economic Development Director Chris Buck, have worked to modify Township ordinances to be welcoming for new businesses in this development. The shift from use-based zoning code to form-based code will allow for more diverse businesses to move into the new development at street level, while allowing for apartments or offices on upper levels.
"We had to wait until Meridian Township adopted the new amendment to the ordinance that basically defines the parameters of the development and what we can build," Will Randle, Chief Operating Officer of True North Development, said. "So what we'll start out with is massing of building footprints to where we'll put buildings and then we'll talk about how tall those buildings will be, and then we'll look at putting retail uses on the first floor and residential and/or offices uses above that first floor."
"We've been working for years to have this happen and now we're finally at a stage where it looks like it all come together and within about three years we'll see actual occupied buildings on this site," Ronald J. Styka, Meridian Township Supervisor said. "For an area like this, I'd love to see a boutique area of shops. Little family-run businesses, some good restaurants, just a little bit of everything so there's a reason to walk down here. When I first moved to Meridian in 1978, this was a thriving area where you had reasons to come, there was an ice cream shop, a stamp collector's place, there was a lot of different things, and so we'd come down here with our kids. I want to see that again."
Currently, True North Development is hoping to break ground in fall of 2018 to begin environmental cleanup, with construction officially starting in spring of 2019.