Trade Group Sees Hope in Retail Projects

July 24, 2009


Detroit Free Press
Greta Guest

July 24, 2009

Jul. 24--Retail development has slowed to a trickle in Michigan this year as credit for commercial projects has dried up, but there is hope.

Attendance was lighter at this year's Michigan Idea Exchange hosted by the International Council of Shopping Centers on Thursday at the Rock Financial Showplace in Novi. Last year, 625 people attended and this year the number was 425, said Philip Cody, chairperson of the event.

"There is no new development in the pipeline for Michigan," he said. "Financing is next to impossible."

So the trade group highlighted the positive.

Developments mentioned were:

--The Livonia Marketplace, a Wal-Mart-anchored remake of the Livonia Mall, set to open in 2010.

--Emagine Entertainment's plan to build a theater and boutique bowling center at 11 Mile and Main in Royal Oak.

--The Raleigh Michigan Studios project in Pontiac that would reuse an abandoned General Motors plant.

--Panera Bread's continued expansion in Michigan with two new stores this year and another four being negotiated.

Some projects that were still green-lighted last year are now sitting and waiting for better days such as the Bloomfield Park mixed-use development on which construction was halted last year.

Christopher Tarrant, real estate manager for Panera Bread, said that the two years he has been working in the Michigan market have shown him how resilient it is.

He said the drive-through service added to the Roseville location has increased sales by 21 percent.

"We remain very committed to the state of Michigan," he said.

Wal-Mart has said it would open 10 stores in Michigan this year and create 1,500 jobs. The retailer also plans three new stores next year, said spokesman Nick Infante.

Grand Rapids-based Meijer plans to open three stores in Michigan next year in Petoskey, Grand Rapids and Rochester Hills.


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