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News & Press: Lansing News

Potential Development in Okemos Moves Forward

Thursday, February 21, 2019  
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True North Development presents concept plan for $100 million development in Meridian Township

Imagine sitting on a patio along a tree-lined street, sipping a drink before heading across the boulevard for a haircut. And imagine this idyllic village-like setting replacing the current blighted vacant buildings on the southern corners of Okemos and Hamilton Roads.

 

Local developer Will Randle, of True North Development, and his team are taking the next steps to move forward on a potential $100 million-plus investment into a mixed-use development on the blocks surrounded by Hamilton Road, Okemos Road and Ardmore Avenue in Okemos. The proposed project is a mixed-use, multistory community with public and private parking centered around a small downtown with restaurants and boutique shops, including a space proposed for Douglas J Salon and Spa.

 

The project — currently being referred to as The Village of Okemos — is being designed by a team of the nation's best planning, architecture, engineering, landscape, community engagement and traffic experts, including Gibbs Planning Group, Presley Architecture and Hobbs+Black Architects, to ensure it is a national model for redevelopment. The team's goal is to reinvigorate this historic hamlet, rebuilding it into a thriving village with a walkable downtown and establishing it as a true commercial and cultural center for Meridian Township.

 

Now the project is moving ahead with its next steps: the presentation of a concept plan to the Meridian Township Board of Trustees on Feb. 19, and the continuation of a feasibility assessment including environmental and construction costs.

 

The proposed building designs are an elegant take on the historic structures commonly found in Michigan's early 20th-century village downtowns, leveraging varied roof lines, abundant windows and different building materials such as wood, brick and stone. In response to community feedback, the original idea of five-story buildings was reduced to four stories with a handful of fifth-story penthouses with terraces. Additionally, based on feedback received from neighboring residents, the plan now includes three-story buildings near the neighborhoods to ease the height transition and fit better with the existing neighborhoods.

 

The currently proposed residential component includes up to 200 luxury units. Housing options include one-, two- and three-bedroom flats, as well as two-story townhouses with a variety of unique features ranging from balconies to outdoor terraces. Parking for the development will be provided underground and through surface lots behind the structures. A traffic study has been conducted to ensure changes to parking don't negatively impact residents and visitors.

 

The project also provides the opportunity to address significant environmental concerns and costs that have been a driving factor behind the failure of previously proposed developments. There is extensive environmental contamination from previous businesses in the area. Meridian Township and True North Development are working with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to secure funds for clean-up. The recently passed Meridian Township Downtown Development Authority TIF Plan is another key tool in providing the necessary funding to develop the site. Through the partnership and collaboration with the township and state, as well as the scale of the proposed development, it is expected the environmental contamination can finally be addressed through this project.

 

"This is going to be a wonderful place to live and it’s been very important to me all along it reflect this unique community and the people who already live here,” Randle said. “This is going to bring value to the township as a center of community, but more importantly, it will reflect the vision of the people already here as well of the aspirations of what we hope to become. This will bring activity again to our downtown."

 

The planning team has already hosted multiple community and neighborhood meetings to gather resident and visitor feedback. The next opportunity to engage will be for members of the 4 Corners Alliance on Feb. 28, 2019 at 6 p.m. at Henry’s Place in Okemos. Those interested in attending should RSVP via the Four Corners Alliance of Okemos Facebook page.

 

Residents, neighbors and interested individuals can also receive ongoing project updates and provide feedback via Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/VillageofOkemos/), Twitter (https://twitter.com/VillageofOkemos) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/villageofokemos/).


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