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City's Development Director Recaps Year of Lakewood's Economy

Dru Siley presents Lakewood's economic snapshot at Lakewood Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Friday.

The city has seen more than $60 million in development during the past four years. 

Dru Siley, the city’s director of planning and development, has been a part of most of it.

Siley, who is also the city’s director of building and housing, was the featured speaker at the luncheon at on Friday.

He talked about some of the city’s achievements — showing a slideshow presentation with some improvements  — as well as a few of the challenges ahead.

“We’ve been so busy over the last few years,” said Siley, who marked his four-year anniversary with the city last week. “It’s nice to have the opportunity to talk about some of this. I am in awe over what we’ve been able to accomplish."

The “Year of the Bicycle”

So far in 2012, the city has been taking toward its goal of making Lakewood one of the most bike-friendly cities in the state. There’s a ; to the commercial corridors; and all over the city. “Bike racks represent more than a little inverted tube of metal,” Siley said, adding that a surprisingly large number of residents use bikes as a primary source of transportation. “Lately, it’s been the year of the bicycle.”

Development projects

Siley pointed to some of the major renovations along Detroit Avenue, including the and the Bailey Building. “You forget how bad some of these building were before (renovation).” He also talked about some of the other projects including into the McDonald’s on Sloane Avenue; on Detroit Avenue; the along the river; and the campus.

Dollar stores the four horsemen of the apocalypse?

Siley said that the recent announcement of a couple of to open on Detroit Avenue has caused some panic. “There are rumblings that dollar stores are the four horsemen of the apocalypse, and will lead to the undoing of Lakewood.” It’s not true, he said. He noted that the city doesn’t have much say in private transactions. “But by no means are they the identity our community.”

Housing Forward

Siley also talked about the mayor’s aggressive and comprehensive to get as many as 95 percent of Lakewood homes up to housing code. With 32,000 housing units and about 13,000 homes, “Housing is our biggest economic engine,” he said. “We have the kind of housing stock that can be around for more than another 100 years.”

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