Small-format Meijer store to break ground near downtown Detroit this summer
A small-format Meijer store on East Jefferson could become the first new high-profile Detroit development to break ground since the coronavirus pandemic brought the economy to a standstill.
Businessman Dennis Archer Jr., son of former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, said Tuesday that he and his development partners hope to start construction of the 42,000-square-foot grocery store within 60 days for a summer 2021 opening.
The store, to be built at 1401-1475 E. Jefferson Ave., less than a mile from downtown, would be the fourth small-format Meijer store concept and, like its predecessors, wouldn’t have “Meijer” in its name.
The first store, Bridge Street Market in Grand Rapids, opened in August 2018 and another, Woodward Corner Market at 13 Mile and Woodward in Royal Oak, opened earlier this year. A third, Capital City Market, is slated to open in downtown Lansing.
The tentative name for the Detroit store is The Rivertown Market, Archer said. It will be roughly one-fifth the size of most Meijer supercenters but twice the size of the Whole Foods in Midtown Detroit.
The store will mostly stock groceries, not the full array of merchandise found in supercenters.
The East Jefferson Meijer was first announced in October 2017 as part of a larger $60-million mixed-use project that called for 214 apartments to be built on top of the store.
But Archer said they dropped the idea for apartments last year because construction costs, including for a proposed 200-space underground parking garage, would have been too high to make the project profitable at Detroit rent levels.
The Meijer store will stand alone and be the same size as proposed three years ago, he said. It will include a 100-space surface parking lot and 30 on-street spaces.
Archer said coronavirus did delay the start of construction, but the pandemic only reinforced the business case for the project.
“Grocery stores have always been and will always been an essential need,” Archer said. “So everyone has remained bullish on it, from the Meijer corporation to the city to us as developers.”
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer allowed commercial and residential construction work to resume last Thursday.
Planning documents filed with the city put the project’s total investment at $15.6 million. The project is seeking a Brownfield tax-increment financing plan worth $2.7 million, which would reimburse Archer and his development partners over 17 years from future tax revenue generated by the store.
The store will hire about 85 workers, Archer said, and nearby residents will be encouraged to apply for the jobs.
It will be the third and the smallest Meijer store to open in Detroit city limits. The first, a full-size Meijer supercenter, opened in 2013 on 8 Mile, and the second supercenter arrived in 2015 on the site of the old Redford High School at Grand River and McNichols.
Archer said his partners in the East Jefferson project are Bloomfield Hills-based Lormax Stern Development Co. and Jefferson Tower LLC.
The 2-acre East Jefferson site was once occupied by commercial buildings that were demolished in the 1960s, as well as the old University Club fraternal organization, which closed years ago and was demolished after a 2013 fire.
A Meijer representative did not respond to a request for comment.