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In a move meant to signal that it is 'open for business,' Hamtramck is at the start of a process to be certified as a redevelopment-ready community, the Detroit suburb announced Thursday.

The certification will be made by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and the process could take years, officials say.

Michelle Parkkonen, manager of the MEDC's Redevelopment Ready Communities program, said the effort started years ago as a statewide version of a program by the same name, run by the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, which focused on inner-ring Detroit suburbs.

"Hamtramck is definitely interested in working their way through the best practices," Parkkonen said. "We hope to help Hamtramck show that it is open for business." 

By the end of October, the 14th community will have completed the MEDC's redevelopment ready certification process. In Metro Detroit, this includes Eastpointe and Roseville in Macomb County and Ferndale, Lathrup Village and Southfield in Oakland County. More than 150 other communities are at some level of the process, including Detroit, Dearborn, and Farmington, according to the latest map, which was updated this month.

The work will start with Hamtramck conducting a self-evaluation of where it stands now. Its vision and process for development will be evaluated by the MEDC. Brett Hanlon, an MEDC planner who works in region 10, which includes Wayne County, will be involved in the process. 

MEDC will do an evaluation of its own, and offer a report on its findings. This will set a baseline on where Hamtramck stands compared to best standards and will outline the work needed to advance toward certification. 

Although certification can take years, one community did it in nine months. Getting certified could take years, though it took one community as little as nine months. As the MEDC's website describes it, the redevelopment ready program is a "no-cost, technical assistance, statewide certification program" that "evaluates and certifies 
that a community has integrated transparency, predictability, and efficiency into daily development practices through a set of best practices."

Longtime Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski said the city had actually started the process years ago, under the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, but that it "fell through the cracks" as the city went through emergency management and "transitions among department heads." So it's starting from the beginning.

In 2012, the MEDC bought the program, and in 2013 it took the program statewide. Today, the Michigan Suburbs Alliance is called Metro Matters.

Three years ago, Majewski bought and renovated a vacant, historic building on the city's main road, Joseph Campau. She opened a vintage clothing store called Tekla Village. 

"I could've opened an online store, but it was important to me that a vacant, historic structure be open again for business," Majewski said. "It was important to contribute to the street life" in the downtown area.

Majewski said "it can get complicated," trying to open a brick-and-mortar business. Many of the businesses in Hamtramck are small businesses, she said. The goal of seeking certification is to create, and be reputed for, systems that are "clear and easy to navigate" for potential investors. 

 

jdickson@detroitnews.com

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