Property: Downtown Okemos, Okemos

Gertrude Stein is credited with coining the phrase “There is no there, there” to describe the pervasive anonymity of our built environment. This state of "placelessness" is frequently used to describe the modern suburban fringe. Urbanists apply the pejorative description to the nearly endless string of strip malls, office parks and residential subdivisions that mark our towns and cities.

Rarely can this the lack of identity be applied to a city’s main crossroads. Rather, the central core is the very place where a town’s identity is created. However, if the “four corners” of Okemos and Hamilton roads ever provided an identity for Okemos, they do not now.

The former Travelers Club International Restaurant & Tuba Museum sits vacant, awaiting demolition for the past few years. Shrubbery and vines have overtaken the building since its closure, which was accepted to make way for business relocation. One block south of the intersection, at 4675 Okemos Road, the shuttered MARC building (pictured above) sits in a state of semi demolition, covered with weathered plywood panels and surrounded by Jersey barriers.

Downtown Okemos is small, so even minor flaws are magnified. The current situation, with vacant spaces and deteriorating buildings, projects an unacceptable municipal image.

“Eyesore of the Week” is our look at some of the seedier properties in Lansing. It rotates each week with Eye Candy of the Week. If you have a suggestion, please e-mail or call Berl Schwartz at 999-5061.