AP News

New grocery store, retail plaza opens in Detroit

DETROIT (AP) — As Detroit enters bankruptcy to clear billions of dollars of old debt, a major new shopping plaza is opening on the city's north side that city leaders hope will spark future economic development.

The Gateway Marketplace will open at 6 a.m. Thursday when Meijer Inc. unlocks the doors to a $20 million grocery supercenter at the intersection of Eight Mile Road and Woodward. The plaza is expected to bring 900 jobs and expand grocery and retail options in a city lacking in both.

The project follows the opening of a Whole Foods store in the city's growing Midtown area. Urban leaders consider high-end grocery stores essential to regenerating neighborhoods that have lost residents and other businesses.

Dale Watchowski, president of REDICO, the developer of the 353,000-square-foot Gateway Marketplace, said he hopes Detroit's bankruptcy filing last week will help the city move beyond its past problems and begin focusing on rebuilding. "It's about time that we just put this chapter behind us," he said.

The $72 million project is expected to draw customers from the city and from communities in Oakland and Macomb counties to the north. A half-million people live within a five-mile radius, said Watchowski.

"Some great things are happening in the central business district and there is a lot of activity in Midtown," he said. "We've come on the perimeter of the city with a major development. There is some potential here for some connectivity."

Grand Rapids-based Meijer will anchor the development, which Watchowski said is 95 percent leased.

Retailers Marshalls and Dots expect to open this summer. Other shops will include PNC Bank, K&G Menswear, Petco, 5 Below and Payless Shoes.

When Whole Foods opened in Midtown in June, it became the first national grocer to open a store in the city in years. Many Detroit residents had complained that local grocers offered little fresh produce.

Meijer spokesman Frank Guglielmi said the new store has hired about 550 full- and part-time workers.

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