Inside This Issue - News
Detroit retail revival
August 12th, 2013
DETROIT – Although the city may have declared bankruptcy recently, mass market retail has not given up on Detroit. Meijer Inc. has opened its 203rd supercenter here, its first in the city.
The opening followed the June debut of another well-known mass market retailer: Whole Foods Market Inc. opened its first location here on Mack Drive in midtown Detroit.
Meijer’s $20 million investment was heralded as a vote of confidence in a city that has struggled economically for decades.
"We are thrilled to offer the Meijer experience to our new neighbors," said cochairman Doug Meijer in a statement. "There’s so much history and pride here, so many people who have lived their entire lives in the city of Detroit, that the opportunity to provide healthy living options and help encourage growth is something our company is grateful to be part of."
The Meijer flagship unit measures 190,000 square feet and is located at 8 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue, in the new Gateway Marketplace shopping center on the site of the former Michigan State Fairgrounds. The shopping center, which is 95% leased, will also house such national chains as Marshalls, Petco, Payless ShoeSource, Wingstop, Subway and K&G Fashion Superstore.
Local residents lined up before dawn on July 25, the day of the grand opening. It was preceded the evening before by an invitation-only ribbon-cutting event for VIPs, who listened to live jazz and a performance by the Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences Choir while enjoying wine and catered appetizers. Attendees included Mayor Dave Bing, Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano, and James (Buddha) Edwards and Rick Mahorn of the Detroit Pistons.
"The opening of Detroit’s first Meijer store means new jobs, continued economic growth and greater convenience for the residents of our city," said Bing. "As the anchor of the new Gateway Marketplace shopping center, Meijer represents another important business investment that is transforming Detroit into a retail destination."
The Meijer store will create more than 550 jobs, while the shopping center as a whole will generate about 900 jobs. "During this difficult economic time, that’s huge," said project lead developer and civic leader Marvin Beatty in a published report. "To Meijer’s credit, they have taken a very aggressive position to make sure that Detroiters get most of the jobs. Many of the other outlets in the complex, and the ones coming, are looking to do the same. It’s extremely important that jobs for Detroiters become a big part of the success story of Gateway Marketplace."
The shopping center is located at a high-traffic intersection, with nearly 120,000 vehicles passing daily. It will serve a neighborhood of 68,000 households, or 175,000 residents, living within a three-mile radius of the center.
Residents and employees will be able to access the store easily by public transportation as well, since there is a Detroit Department of Transportation transfer stop on the site. The Detroit Police Department also has a hub adjacent to the Meijer fuel center on the site to ensure security.
"The vision of the developers, investment by so many entities and the talent of so many people create success, and it means that all of us had to work together to make this happen," Bing said during the ribbon cutting. "This project represents the future of Detroit."
Many civic and business leaders in fact are pointing to the Meijer investment as a meaningful indicator that private sector investment in the beleaguered city is increasing and will eventually fuel the city’s revitalization. Indeed, Meijer is proceeding with plans for a second store in the city in spite of the bankruptcy filing.
"It’s not unexpected," Doug Meijer said of the filing in a published report. "We think of it as the closing of one chapter in Detroit’s history and the opening of another. And we would like to think of this store as the opening of a new chapter."