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Bringing a city corner back to life in St. Clair Shores

Special land use, site plan approved

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published March 6, 2020

 The restaurant is planned for the outlot of the future Kroger, which is proposed to be constructed on the site of the former Kmart at Nine Mile Road and Harper Avenue.

The restaurant is planned for the outlot of the future Kroger, which is proposed to be constructed on the site of the former Kmart at Nine Mile Road and Harper Avenue.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

ST. CLAIR SHORES — A Panera Bread with a drive-thru window is one step closer to making its way to an unused lot on the corner of Nine Mile Road and Harper Avenue.

City Council voted 5-0 in favor of a special land use for the drive-thru, and approved the site plan for the restaurant at its March 2 meeting. Councilmen Peter Rubino and John Caron were excused absent for the meeting.

The restaurant will join a gas station in the outlot of the Kroger grocery store planned to be constructed on the site of the former Kmart.

City Planner Liz Koto said that they worked with developers to improve the site plan, moving the drive-thru to the south side of the property so that it would not be visible along Nine Mile Road.

The north side of the building will include an outdoor patio with seating when the weather permits, said Derik Leary, the engineer representing the developer. He said that they were hoping to begin construction on the all-brick building in the spring or summer.

Scott Marsh, a representative with Panera Bread, told the City Council that the company is trying to decide if it will open the corporate-owned store early or time its opening to go along with the completion of Kroger.

“It’s a beautiful plan, beautiful building. I think it’s really going to bring some life to that corner again,” said Councilman Chris Vitale.

He said that he is glad that the city was able to get such a good business for Nine Mile and Harper.

“We’ve held our ground and it pays off with this good, quality development,” he said.

Vitale encouraged owners of smaller, empty storefronts along Harper Avenue to work together to market their buildings.

“This Panera Bread is 3,500 square feet. That’s a pretty good-size building,” he said.

Councilwoman Candice Rusie said she’s excited to be working with the company, which she has heard has a good reputation for working well with municipalities.

“Thanks a whole lot for picking St. Clair Shores. I know you’ve got plenty of communities” to choose from, echoed Councilman Ron Frederick.

Marsh said that, typically, construction takes about 160 days from the ground up.