About 20 people gathered last Thursday to hear what the director of Project Surge had to say about plans for downtown.
David Holcomb told the Clinton Planning and Zoning Commission that the group plans to buy the former Eoff Furniture building on Main Street and turn it into a day-care center, a thrift store and apartments to rent.
Holcomb, who is also the pastor at Friendship Baptist Church, said the upstairs of the building will be renovated and become "mid- to high-end apartments." Those apartments, according to an outline of the plan he gave to commissioners, are not intended for "low-income or income-assisted rental."
Holcomb said Project Surge intends to renovate the existing building on Highway 16 East, which used to be CJ’s One Stop, into eight apartments. He stated in the outline of the plan that three or four of those apartments will be leased to Birchtree residents and the others will be used to house low-income or homeless people.
Homelessness in Van Buren County is "astronomical," Holcomb said.
He outlined requirements for those who request help from Project Surge, including drug testing, working in a community garden to pick their own food, and proof that they are actively seeking employment.
"We’re tired of just dishing it (aid) out," Holcomb said.
He also said the board of director of the Dove House, a shelter for victims of domestic abuse that closed about two years ago, has decided to disband. He said Project Surge has stepped in to take it over. The Dove House thrift shop would be moved from its current location next door to the Eoff building.
City Zoning Officer Dwight Wilson said everything Project Surge plans is within the proper zones, but the City Council would have to issue a conditional use permit for a day-care center. The zoning commission will hold a public hearing on the permit.
The group plans to pursue grant money to make improvements to the property.