DETROIT
11/16/2011 12:27 pm ET Updated Nov 21, 2011

Meijer Set To Open Superstore On Detroit's West Side

An abandoned high school on Detroit's west side could be streaming with shoppers in the near future.

The Michigan-based Meijer grocery chain got approval from the Michigan Economic Growth Authority Tuesday to receive tax breaks for a project on the grounds of the old Redford High School at Grand River and McNichols.

Vacant since 2007, the 25-acre former school lot could potentially house a new $33 million superstore.

The $3.3 million tax credit would go towards the cost of demolishing the school building, cleaning the soil and installing new utilities, the Free Press reports.

The Grand Rapids company has not yet committed to any solid plans for the site.

"All Meijer is confirming at this point is that we are very interested in the site, but it's early in the process and we are still in the due-diligence stage," said spokesman Frank Guglielmi in an interview with the Detroit News.

UPDATE 4:40 p.m -- The Detroit Public Schools have announced the district was closer to closing a deal with Lormax Stern Detroit Development LLC to sell the old Redford High School property. Lormax Stern will be develop the property for use by the Meijer store.

According to a press release, the district stands to sell the property for $2 million. "Lormax Stern has been making monthly non refundable deposits to DPS since September 2011 and the agreement was additionally subject to finalization of Brownfield and other development incentives that have since been accomplished, including one this weel," the release said.

DPS Emergency Manager Roy Roberts is quoted saying, "This is a critical opportunity to put surplus property, which once served the community by educating scores of students over many years earlier, to positive use to benefit current and future residents of Detroit in such a key area as retail development."

The proposed store would feature full retail, grocery, a garden center and a gas station and would create 83 full-time jobs and 208 part-time jobs, according to MEGA briefing papers cited by the Free Press.

Proponents say a new shopping outlet would be a boon to the impoverished Brightmoor neighborhood.

"This is something the residents of this city have been asking for for years," George Jackson, president of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., the city's quasi-public development agency, told the Detroit News.

If constructed, the Brightmoor store would be the second planned venture for the chain in the city of Detroit. Meijer also hopes to set up shop near the former State Fairgrounds on Woodward, but is waiting on a commitment from another developer before it breaks ground on that project, the Detroit News reports.

If completed, the Meijers stores will face competition from a new Whole Foods grocery store planned for Midtown, which might also qualify for up to $4.7 million in state and city tax credits.

And, like Whole Foods, the Grand Rapids retailer may also face criticism for taking tax incentives, when the City of Detroit teeters on the brink of insolvency.

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