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April 10, 2013

Eastpointe sees increase in commercial development

By Sara Kandel
C & G Staff Writer

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Eastpointe sees increase in commercial development
Construction at Legends — one of 10 development projects happening in Eastpointe — is nearing completion after a fire ruined most of the building in April 2011.

EASTPOINTE — Commercial and retail development is on the rise in Eastpointe.

In 2013, the city has seen a number of new construction projects and reinvestment efforts get under way from both new and existing businesses across the city.

From the $250,000 in planned renovations and improvements at Olive Garden, to continued progression at the Oakwood Senior Living construction site, the city is seeing a flurry of activity.

“There’s been a lot of business activity in Eastpointe and a lot of interest in Eastpointe from prospective businesses,” said Mary Van Haaren, director of building, public works and community development in Eastpointe.

“There will not be a big-box day again in commercial development,” said City Manager Steve Duchane.

“Those days are over. It’s like that analogy in baseball: have a lot of singles hitters, not as many home run hitters. We’ll be fine if we have a lot of people hitting singles, and we’ll still be winning in the commercial division if we can have a lot of unique, individualized shops. It diversifies you a little bit.”

In addition to Oakwood and Olive Garden, other projects currently under way in Eastpointe include a new Tim Hortons on Nine Mile; the complete reconstruction and renovation of the CVS at Nine Mile and Kelly roads; a grocery store on Eight Mile Road, east of Gratiot; a medical building on 10 Mile Road, east of Gratiot; the new Legends on Nine Mile Road; the new Little Italy restaurant, which is scheduled to open soon; the new credit union site at Gratiot and Toepfer; and a pickle plant on Stephens, just east of Gratiot.

“We’ve had a busy year so far in the Building Department and on the Planning Commission,” said Van Haaren. “We are thrilled to see all these new businesses. It’s a sign that things are picking back up.

“As a group, these 10 projects represent a substantial rise in new development and reinvestment within our 5.1-square-mile community,” Duchane said.

“I think there is a surprising number of things, like the reinvestment in Olive Garden, like the construction for Tim Hortons — the first one ever in Eastpointe — to our pickle and beet canning facility. I think they all add a dimension of activity into the community, and with them, you create a culture, an opening of people, that want to do business in our community.”

Not only does the development make the city a more attractive place for businesses, but it increases opportunities for residents and brings back some of the much-needed revenue the city lost in property taxes during the housing market crash.

“I’m sure that a number of the businesses are going to employ some of our residents, and that helps residents and helps the city,” Van Haaran said.

“We are seeing a decline in vacant structures; there has been an increase in rental properties, but that’s OK. We have a lot going on, and a diverse business community, and that makes people want to live here, and that’s good for everyone involved — the residents, the businesses and the city.”

For more information, call the City Manager’s Office at (586) 445-3661.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sara Kandel at skandel@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1030.