Sterling Heights Senior Economic Development Adviser Luke Bonner said this former Denny’s building, by M-59/Hall Road near Lakeside Mall, will become the site of a new Jollibee location.

Sterling Heights Senior Economic Development Adviser Luke Bonner said this former Denny’s building, by M-59/Hall Road near Lakeside Mall, will become the site of a new Jollibee location.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Investments, dining choices discussed in economic update

New Jollibee location creates stir

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published September 2, 2021


STERLING HEIGHTS — The Sterling Heights City Council was jolly about an upcoming Jollibee location, as well as other upcoming business and residential developments in Sterling Heights during an Aug. 17 meeting.

It started with a presentation by Sterling Heights Senior Economic Development Adviser Luke Bonner, who previewed some new economic developments that are poised to arrive over the next 12-24 months.

Before sharing some of the new development news, Bonner shared some of the city’s economic high points over the past few years, such as redeveloping the former Sunnybrook Golf Course into an industrial park that is home to Mitchell Plastics. Another victory was turning the former Liberty Park sports complex into an Amazon delivery station, which opened last year.

Bonner added that, since 2018, the city has seen $773 million in total residential, commercial and industrial capital investments — based on building permits pulled — with the amount going up total year by total year. In 2020, the city had $358 million, and it has had $118 million to date in 2021, according to city statistics.

Bonner called the expansion of investment in 2020 “probably surprising,” but he welcomed it.

“It was a very difficult year for many people,” he said. “But we know that there continued to be a lot of expansions, a lot of new construction, a lot of renovation projects last year.”

Looking ahead, Bonner said Sterling Heights’ upcoming economic initiatives include the future of Lakeside Mall. Bonner said the city is working with the mall’s ownership and that the latter is putting together a plan for the mall’s future within 60 days.

In terms of new residential development, Bonner outlined some new and upcoming multifamily complexes, including some in a more urban style. For instance, an upcoming project along Schoenherr Road would build a four-story complex where a parking lot currently is.

The Chaldean Community Foundation’s mixed-use project also plans to get going, featuring ground-floor retail and residential units on higher floors. Bonner said that project caters “more towards the walkability of Van Dyke and the proximity to Dodge Park and downtown Utica.”

But it was restaurants that most captured the City Council’s attention. In recent years, the M/59-Hall Road corridor has been the place where eateries like BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse and Portillo’s hot dogs have recently made their home.

In that same vein, Jollibee is a Filipino fast-food restaurant that is slated to be located where Denny’s used to be, along Hall Road, near Lakeside Mall. Bonner predicted that Jollibee fans from all over the region will be flocking to it.

“I’m guessing that the lines will be significantly long when it finally opens, similar to Portillo’s,” he said.

According to an Aug. 12 post on its website, Jollibee said its chain was founded in 1978 and has more than 1,400 locations worldwide. It opened its first United States location in 1998 in California, and there are also locations in Europe and Asia. It added that it “plots (a) North American takeover.” A Jollibee representative did not reply for comment by press time.  

Councilwoman Maria Schmidt gave her perspective on the Jollibee phenomenon and how it has manifested elsewhere in North America.

“Those of us that have never experienced Jollibee don’t understand the people that are elated that they don’t have to drive to Toronto or to Chicago when they want Jollibee,” Schmidt said.

“There are so many people excited about this restaurant coming to Sterling Heights. ... I’ve never seen anything like it. We thought Portillo’s was big. Well, you know what? I think Jollibee is going to be bigger.”

Councilman Michael Radtke said his best friend, who is Filipino, is “ready for Jollibee.” Mayor Michael Taylor said he had looked up the chain’s eclectic menu selections, which includes fried chicken, spaghetti and peach mango pies. He tied the chain to the city’s growing diversity and added that this will be Michigan’s first Jollibee location.

“We’ve seen a big increase in our Asian population, and I know we have a very active Filipino population in the city of Sterling Heights,” he said. “Even as Lakeside is transitioning, I think retailers are finding that ... what’s going on on Hall Road is somewhere that they want to be. And so it’s great to see that.”

In addition, Bonner said Mission BBQ and burger chain Shake Shack are also planning to come to Sterling Heights along Hall Road, in front of Lakeside. Both chains already have multiple locations in the tri-county area. Also, an upcoming Total Wine & More location is actively under construction, he said.

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