Plans advance for Village of Okemos project — with a few key changes

Developers seek tax incentives for downsized development in Meridian Township

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THURSDAY, Aug. 6 — Despite some recent delays tied to the coronavirus pandemic, the $100 million mixed-use “Village of Okemos” development is gearing back up in Meridian Township.

And if developers are able to secure some extra funding, construction efforts are slated to continue in October with demolition of the former Travelers Club, Bottoms Up and ACE Hardware at the intersection of Hamilton and Okemos roads by mid-December, officials said.

“Traditional lenders have pulled back conventional financing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are no longer vetting possible loans until the future becomes clearer,” said Will Randle, spokesman for True North Development, noting developers will instead seek other incentives.

The Meridian Township Board of Trustees approved the mixed-use development plan last July, which is designed to transform two full blocks into more than 200 “luxury living” units and over 50,000 square feet of leasable commercial space. Douglas J will also lease a significant portion.

In an effort to secure additional funds, developers at True North and WestPac Communities are leaning on the Meridian Township Redevelopment Fund to cover an unnamed portion of asbestos abatement and demolition costs on all buildings within the two-block site. If the request is successful, developers said they could have the area cleared before the end of the year.

The township’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority meets virtually later this month.

Additionally, the development team now plans to increase available residential space along Okemos Road within the proposed buildings and reduce the amount of available commercial space. The layout of the development proposal along Hamilton Road is not expected to change.

“Given the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on commercial lending over the past several months, we agree that a small reduction in the available commercial space is the right decision, especially if it can secure financing to keep the overall project going forward,” officials explained.

To date, more than $4.4 million has been privately invested into the $100 million project. Developers are also working to extend Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Eagle funding for asbestos abatement and demolition work, originally slated for spring 2020.

“We’re eager to move forward with this work and look forward to starting this fall,” Randle said.

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