Meijer outlot development: 3 national restaurants could open on Ann Arbor-Saline Road / by Kelsey Courtley

The Ann Arbor News
By Lizzy Alfs

A Southfield-based real estate firm is under contract to purchase the Meijer outlot property on Ann Arbor-Saline Road, which could pave the way for a major development project.

Versa Development plans to purchase the properties fronting Meijer from the Grand Rapids-based grocery store chain, according to Meijer real estate manager Roger DeHoek.

Several parcels fronting the Pittsfield Township store were put on the market last year, after the township completed a redesign of its master plan. The redesign favors mixed-use development at the site off Ann Arbor-Saline Road, said Pittsfield Township Supervisor Mandy Grewal.

"The vision we have in the township…(is to) increase density through infill development, and our hope is to partner with existing developments to sort of promote that vision," Grewal said. "(This project) fits with that vision."

Michael Lippitt of Landmark Commercial, the broker who is marketing the outlot properties for lease, said development plans would include constructing three full-service restaurants and two retail/fast casual restaurant buildings.

“If all goes according to plan, we could have a couple (leases) signed by the end of January,” Lippitt said.

A berm currently separates the Meijer parking lot and Ann Arbor-Saline Road, which extends from Oak Valley Drive to Lohr Road. A total of five buildings would be constructed along that stretch of land.

Lippitt said family-style restaurant chains would occupy three of the buildings, although he declined to reveal any possible tenants. Versa marketing materials list CheddarsLonghorn Steakhouse andBonefish Grill, but Lippitt said the materials are outdated and just examples of the types of tenants that could open.

“We have commitments on all three of the restaurant buildings,” he said. “It could be some of those (tenants), but not all of those.”

He added: “The intention is that all three will be of national caliber. We have strong interest levels, so we’re confident that’s what will happen.”

In addition to the restaurants, two 6,000-square-foot retail buildings would be constructed for fast casual restaurants, retail or professional use. Lippitt said tenants such as a sandwich or coffee shop, and medical or professional office could open in those buildings.

“We have a variety of letters of intent on those as well,” he said.

If plans are approved by Pittsfield Township, Lippitt said the project could break ground in spring 2013 and open in spring 2014.

The Ann Arbor-Saline and Lohr Road intersection is one of the most highly trafficked in the area. It leads to the Target shopping center on the west side of Ann Arbor-Saline and a shopping complex with Best Buy, Kohl’sBig Lots and Dick’s Sporting Goods on the east side.

Just across the street from Meijer, developers have targeted a vacant plot of land behind Chuck E. Cheese’s for a multi-family residential project. The owners of the Target shopping center intend to build an apartment complex and eventually redevelop the shopping center.

Grewal said the township is in discussions with the Washtenaw County Road Commission to look at the traffic impact of both developments off Ann Arbor-Saline Road and how to best ease traffic congestion in the area.