Redevelopment of Downtown Okemos is Moving Forward
MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - Things are looking up for Downtown Okemos, particularly the north and south side of Hamilton Road, west of Okemos Road. This area, also known as the “four corners” of Downtown Okemos, has had vacant storefronts for years, but not for much longer.
On July 19, 2018, True North Development closed on the properties that Evergreen Properties has owned for the past three years, which includes the Marc Building, the former Central Fire Station and most recently the Okemos Ace Hardware.
Acquiring these properties is all part of True North Development and Douglas J’s $100 million plan to revitalize Downtown Okemos, which they announced in a press conference on May 24th.
Meridian Township Economic Development Director Chris Buck gave insight into plans for the redevelopment of these properties and said it’s something that Meridian Township residents will enjoy.
"I don't have all of this confirmed, but my expectation is that almost all of those buildings are probably going to be demolished and there's going to be an entirely new concept plan presented that's going to be new buildings,” Buck said. “I'm very encouraged listening to the gentleman who's really working on the design of these buildings. He wants to build these two blocks in particular as though they've always been there. There's an expectation that we're going to put up buildings that look like they were built in the era that [they were] originally built, and the height, shape, style, materials used and the road systems need to match.”
Buck is optimistic about the development and believes having one developer oversee creative control and design control will result in a better project. He hopes the new development will make Downtown Okemos a destination and bring more people into town.
“I think that Downtown Okemos deserves to have a nice blend of residential office space and commercial usage,” Buck said. “I really hope that the people that live within walking distance of that area have a great new destination that would ask them to walk to that area. I'm hoping that it's going to have such great uses that people in subdivisions are going to have a good opportunity to get there, because right now, a lot of people just drive by in their car and feel unhappy when they see the empty buildings.”
It’s been nearly two months since True North Development and Douglas J announced their plan to redevelop Downtown Okemos. To update the community on what’s occurred since they announced the collaboration, they are speaking at a community forum put on by a resident group called "Four Corners Alliance of Okemos" on August 6 from 6-8 pm at Henry’s Place at 4926 Marsh Road in Okemos.
Buck said people involved in the development process will present general plans on what the building designs will look like as well as discuss environmental issues that could arise. Representatives from the Ingham County Road Department and an outside traffic study organization will also attend the forum to inform people about the road process and traffic patterns.
“It's going to be fun for the community to hear how much thought is being put into making that area as well done as it can possible be,” Buck said. “I think the community's going to be very excited to hear how authentic his plans are.”