Big Box Building In Grand Haven

    GRAND HAVEN — A new home-improvement center and additional retail outlets will rise from the broad pile of rubble that was once a Meijer Inc. store along U.S. 31 on Grand Haven’s north end.

    In addition to a 127,000-square-foot Home Depot store, Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust is planning to develop 50,000 square feet of new retail space and sell two or three additional outlets as part of the new shopping center planned for the site at U.S. 31 and Jackson Street.

    Interest in the retail space that will accompany the new Home Depot store is high, said Rich Gershenson, executive vice president for Ramco-Gershenson Properties.

    He said he expects interest to grow as the new Home Depot store begins to rise, enabling Ramco-Gershenson Properties to give careful consideration to potential tenants.

    “We’ve got lots and lots of action on it and we’re very confident we’re going to be choosing instead of looking” for tenants, Gershenson said.

    The Southfield-based real estate investment trust owns 63 shopping centers in 12 states that have a combined 12.5 million square feet of leasable space.

    The firm recently acquired Lakeshore Marketplace in nearby Norton Shores, and is “working on quite a few things” to fill the new retail space in Grand Haven, he said.

    The Home Depot store is expected to open during the first quarter of 2004. The property it will occupy lies across Jackson from a new node of retail outlets on land that for decades was a vacant industrial site.

    The world’s largest home-improvement chain and second-largest retailer after Wal-Mart, the Atlanta-based Home Depot operates some 1,500 stores in the United States, Canada and Latin America.

    After opening a new location in Muskegon less than two years ago, Home Depot selected Grand Haven for a store to address a perceived “retail void” in the market, according to Ramco-Gershenson Properties.

    Rich Gershenson hopes the real estate trust can have tenants signed and that construction can begin on the additional retail space by the time the new Home Depot opens.

    “We’re chomping at the bit to get started,” he said.

    The new shopping center will replace a former Meijer store that closed three years ago.

    That building became vacant when the Grand Rapids retailer closed the store and opened a much larger one on the south side of town.

    Ramco-Gershenson Properties had the old Meijer building demolished last month and is clearing the site for construction.               

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