Revamped position works to revamp downtown Okemos
The Meridian Township Board announced Amber Clark as the new Director of Neighborhoods and Economic Development during its last meeting on Oct. 5.
Clark proposed the position be restructured to serve neighborhoods, as most of Okemos and Haslett residents live in suburban areas.
Keeping neighborhoods in the loop
As Clark moved into the director position, she told the city manager and team about her plans to reinvigorate the role.
“Upon taking the position, I told the team I was interested in drawing in the neighborhoods of such a residential-heavy township,” Clark said. “The core areas looking to develop immediately touch the residents in these neighborhoods, and economic development isn’t just about bringing in new businesses.”
If redevelopment funding is secured, the development team plans to complete demolition and asbestos abatement of buildings on the west side of the community by Dec. 15.
Energizing a community
The township’s Downtown Development Authority, or DDA has plans to transform the downtown Village of Okemos, starting at the corner of Hamilton and Okemos roads. Clark updated board members and viewers on the progress of the revitalization project.
Clark identified the downtown Village of Okemos project as the DDA’s biggest project.
A Haslett resident, Clark said she hasn’t seen much development in the area over the past five to seven years. Clark explained that her goal is to bring more Okemos and Haslett residents in on the projects through community engagement, as many other residents are looking for development.
Nearby residents should expect construction within the next few months. Okemos resident and Michigan State senior Shea Ward said she looks forward to seeing plans put into action.
“Meridian Township is a great place to live, work and attend school,” Ward said. “But I am over the moon excited about improvements to a downtown that hasn’t been fully utilized.”
Residents have seen this project come to life with the construction of a new Chipotle and Aspen Dental that have temporary permits for occupancy to prepare for opening.
Meridian Township is keeping citizens updated on business developments and plans on its community website. Businesses that have been approved to open in Okemos are listed among downtown revitalization updates.
Okemos resident Spencer Price said she looks forward to seeing the positive effects this project will have on her community.
“I’ve lived in the Okemos area for a few years, and I have seen community engagement and economic development increase,” Price said. “This development project brings me hope that the Village of Okemos will continue to draw in new businesses, new opportunities and new visitors.”