Construction begins on Meijer store on Jefferson on Detroit's east side

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — Construction crews worked at a site along Jefferson Avenue on Thursday as developers and city leaders celebrated the groundbreaking of a long-awaited Meijer development on Detroit’s east side.

The 42,000-square-foot store, a small-format version called Rivertown Market, is on three parcels at 1475 E. Jefferson in the area of the Lafayette Park and Rivertown neighborhoods. 

A rendering of the small-format Meijer, called Rivertown Market, being built at 1475 E. Jefferson in Detroit.

The project will create 250 full-time construction jobs and 60 permanent jobs with access to health benefits and a 401(k) program with a company match. Construction is expected to be complete in 2021.

"I'm welcoming Meijer to my old neighborhood," developer Dennis Archer Jr., a partner with RDG Rivertown Market LLC, said during the groundbreaking. "Meijer has been steadfast. We were here three years ago with this same announcement. A number of things happened, the economy shifted, COVID happened. Throughout it all Meijer has never once said 'We have second thoughts.'"

Ceremonial groundbreaking Thursday for the 42,000-square-foot Meijer store, a small-format version called Rivertown Market. Shown from left are  Vik Srinivasan, senior vice president of properties and real estate for Meijer' Shane Napper, president of construction for Rockford Construction; developer Dennis Archer Jr., a partner with RDG Rivertown Market LLC;  Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones; and Mayor Mike Duggan.

Archer was joined Thursday by Vik Srinivasan, senior vice president of properties and real estate for Meijer;  Mayor Mike Duggan; City Council President Brenda Jones; and Shane Napper, president of construction for Rockford Construction.

Srinivasan said the market will provide a mix of local products, national brands and Meijer-brand groceries. This will be the fourth smaller scale store for the Grand Rapids-based retailer. The Detroit location will include 100 parking spaces.

"The small format has proven successful for us in Grand Rapids, Royal Oak and now Lansing, and we look providing new ways to provide our customers in this area of Detroit that has so much potential for growth," he said. 

A bird's-eye artist rendering of the small-format Meijer being built on East Jefferson.

The store on East Jefferson will be Meijer’s third Detroit location. The first opened in 2013 in the Gateway Marketplace at Eight Mile and Woodward. The second opened in 2015 at the former Redford High School at Grand River and McNichols. 

The development was initially announced as a mixed-use development including housing in 2017, but was scaled back due to the rising construction costs, Archer said. 

"This is the way development in Detroit should be handled," Duggan said. "We have a Detroit developer as the lead on this, a great Michigan company that's going to be operating the store in a way that the neighborhood will all embrace."

Council President Brenda Jones said that she’s passed the site for years hoping for a groundbreaking on the project.

“We have been saying for so long Detroit is a food desert,” Jones said. “So to know that we’re going to have some good food in this neighborhood with fresh produce, good fresh meat. I’m excited.”

Meijer and Rockford Construction, in partnership with the city and local unions, said they plan to hold informational gatherings for the community and for local businesses interested in vendor opportunities at the store. There will also be job fairs for employment at the store or in the construction trades.

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN