Meijer Inc. plans to open its third Detroit store on East Jefferson Avenue near Lafayette Park in a $60 million mixed-use project, according to three sources familiar with the plan.
The store would be part of a new development on an empty patch of land at 1475 E. Jefferson. The project also includes the construction of more than 200 apartments, 120 retail parking spaces and 221 residential parking spaces, according to information posted on the website of the developers involved.
The store by the Grand Rapids-based Meijer is being described as a “small-format grocery story” according to the developer’s website, and others called it an “urban store.” Yet it would still be one of the largest grocers in Detroit, which is dominated by small independent grocers.
Few national grocers have been willing to set up shop in the Motor City. But the moves by Meijer, as well as Whole Foods Inc. in Midtown, signal that the city’s redevelopment and more solid financial footing in City Hall appears to be changing the investment thesis for retailers, including grocers.
The new Meijer would be 42,399 square feet, according to the information on the developer’s website. That developer, Lormax Stern Development Co. in Bloomfield Hills, has since taken that information off its website because the developer and the city wanted to release details at the official announcement, a source said.
Based on one of its first small-format stores being built now by Meijer in Grand Rapids, the new store would be around 40,000 square feet. That’s nearly double the size of the Midtown Whole Foods store in Detroit. The average square footage of a grocery store in Detroit is less than 20,000 square feet, according to an analysis by Data Driven Detroit, a nonprofit that provides a variety of statistics and other data about the city.
Lormax Stern didn’t return telephone calls Wednesday, nor did representatives for Meijer.
An announcement of the project will be made Thursday afternoon at the site. On hand will be Mayor Mike Duggan, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans and others. The official press release, just one paragraph, mentions a grocery store as part of the development but does not name the specific grocer. The press release also states some of the apartments will be set aside at “affordable housing rates” compared to market rates.
The East Jefferson store would be Meijer’s third Detroit location. The company opened its first Detroit store in 2013 in the Gateway Marketplace at Eight Mile and Woodward. That Meijer is a “supercenter” that covers 217,000 square feet, about the average size of a Meijer.
Its second location opened in 2015 at the former Redford High School at Grand River Avenue and McNichols Road on the city’s northwest side. That, too, is a supercenter, which is slightly under 200,000 square feet.