Drive along Okemos Road near Hamilton Road and there’s a void. Yet that emptiness is setting the stage for creation of a walkable downtown district.
The $100 million Village of Okemos project will result in new mixed residential and commercial space. It will rise on sites that until recently consisted of empty, blighted buildings.
“Getting the buildings down creates a blank space,” said Meridian Township Neighborhood and Economic Director Amber Clark. “The Village project site is back to a clean area, and Okemos isn’t embarrassing to people new to the community.”
Will Randle, co-founder of True North Development, said most of the asbestos abatement and waste removal is finished, and crews will be ready to start installing utilities and laying the foundation for the new construction. He said the development — expected to be completed in 2024 — will make the downtown area a family-friendly walkable neighborhood.
“The vision is for people to be able to walk out the door of their homes, grab a cup of coffee at a cafe, walk down to the river and park, grab some groceries on the way home, and be able to live this village-feel lifestyle all in a few blocks.” Randle said.
During construction, road improvements will be taking place on Okemos Road from Mount Hope Road to Grand River Avenue.
Clark said that might be messy.
“It may seem like a cocoon for a while, but people will see a beautiful butterfly at the end,” she said.