‘Momentum we’re seeing in Hazel Park is remarkable’

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published February 2, 2016

 The developer plans to revitalize nearby areas as well, possibly turning them into a mix of retail and office space.

The developer plans to revitalize nearby areas as well, possibly turning them into a mix of retail and office space.

HAZEL PARK — The property at 1839 E. Eight Mile Road has been unused for years — something of a rarity in Hazel Park, a town where land is a hot commodity.

But that’s about to change.

Once the home of a Warehouse Club that was vacant as early as 2001, the blighted eyesore has since been demolished and turned into an empty lot. A developer, Hazel Park Development, started talking to the city about building a Save A Lot there and developing adjacent properties into a mix of retail and office space. But those plans were tabled when the economy tanked in 2008.

Around this time last year, the developer contacted the city again, and said they wanted to pick up where they left off. Now the Save A Lot — a big box store, and one of the largest grocery store chains in the nation — is approaching completion, aiming for a spring opening.

The overall cost of the project is over $1.6 million. The building is 16,800 square feet, and will occupy 2 acres of property, including the parking lot. While it’s too early to estimate the taxable revenue the city will receive from the deal, Hazel Park Assistant City Manager Jeff Campbell said it will be a nice boost for the city. There are no tax credits being offered to the developer at this time.

“This is one of the last large open spaces left in Hazel Park,” Campbell said. “It’s a brand-new building that will bring in new revenues to the city. We’ll get a taxable value increase that isn’t affected by the Headlee Amendment and Proposal A. New builds help us more than rehabs from a tax revenue standpoint.”

As for the additional developments, the developer is looking at areas to the east and north of Save A Lot. To the east, they’re considering a small shopping center that would provide a variety of businesses supplementing the store. But first, the Save A Lot must be completed. Right now, they’re doing the final trimmings on the inside and outside.

The Save A Lot comes on the heels of new businesses in town such as the critically acclaimed restaurant Mabel Gray and the microbrewery Cellarmen’s. And then there’s the upcoming multimillion-dollar Tri-County Commerce Center at Hazel Park Raceway, which will bring hundreds of permanent new jobs to the city. The raceway itself is enjoying renewed success thanks to the return of the thoroughbreds. And there are other businesses in the works yet to be announced.

“I think the business and neighborhood momentum we’re seeing in Hazel Park is remarkable,” Campbell said. “It comes from years of hard work and resident support of millages ensuring services that make residents and businesses feel comfortable moving to Hazel Park. I also think the identity of Hazel Park is unique, and it seems the business community is catching on to that uniqueness. We’re becoming an attractive destination for both local entrepreneurs and large corporations.”

Hazel Park City Councilman Andy LeCureaux noted that the Save A Lot development coincides with renewed interest in business opportunities all along the Eight Mile corridor, and that all of these separate developments should enjoy a synergistic effect where one benefits the other.

“When people think Eight Mile, they think cars, but there are many neighborhoods there, and now the residents will be able to walk a couple blocks and be at a store. It’s another piece in the walkability picture,” LeCureaux said.

He said one of the city’s goals is to continue lining up complementary businesses to generate more foot traffic for all of the stakeholders.

“That’s the plan,” LeCureaux said. “It helps everyone to have a diversity of people that come in for other reasons, and while they’re there, they check out the other businesses too.”

He also said it’s a relief to finally see the property at 1839 E. Eight Mile Road put to good use.

“The vacancy there has been a long problem, and the city’s hands were tied since we didn’t have any money to spend on projects there,” LeCureaux said. “This development has been a long, long time coming.”