Rochester Hills developers continue to repurpose sites for retail projects / by Jennifer Jurek

By Paul Kampe, The Oakland Press

Across the street from a Rochester Hills retail development expected to feature big-name national retailers and restaurants sits another building poised for business.

Rochester Square, developed by Southfield-based Versa Real Estate, is located along the perimeter of the Meijer parking lot at the southeast corner of the intersection of Rochester and Auburn roads.

“(That corner) is a hot spot,” city planning director Ed Anzek said.

The more than 15,000-square-foot building is expected to feature a Panda Express, Dibella’s Old Fashioned Submarines, Eyeglass World, Verizon and SuperCuts.

The businesses are expected to open by Oct. 1, according to Ryan Schultz, vice president of development for Versa.

The building was constructed on an outlot in the Meijer parking lot, a role Versa has filled for the retail giant at its locations around the state, including a nearby Shelby Township store.

“Instead of creating urban sprawl, (these projects) densify existing retail corridors and outlets,” Schultz said. “It’s a much more successful way to spread.”

Versa was drawn to the area by a high traffic count and strength of other retailers in the area, Schultz said, adding the project has been in the works for about a year.

“It was a dynamic site,” he said.

Across the street, Rochester Auburn Associates plans to house 12 tenantsin more than 30,000-square-feet of space, including McDonald’s and relocated Qdoba Mexican Grill and Starbucks stores.

The group is redeveloping a lot which used to be occupied by a gas station and car dealership.

At the nearby intersection of John R and Avon roads is the redevelopment of a once-popular Avon Country Market, being developed by the owners of several nearby businesses, Anzek said.

“They were tired of looking at the eyesore,” he said.

The group purchased the building and leveled it last fall, Anzek said. They’re now trying to attract a convenience store and beauty shop to fill the space.

Meanwhile, across town, the owner of a shopping center located on Walton Blvd. near Adams road is working with multiple possible new tenants for the space recently vacated by Peet’s Coffee and Tea.

The California-based company is reportedly closing its other Oakland County locations in Royal Oak, Novi and Commerce Township, as well.

Loretta Adams of Adams Commercial Real Estate Group said the nearly 2,500-square-foot space will remain open while the company vets potential new suitors.

“We could put someone in right away,” she said. “But we don’t want to rush. We want a good tenant mix.”

An insurance agency will fill a nearby vacancy soon, Adams said.

Anzek said the city will be working with developers in the future to encourage more redevelopment.

“The city would rather see redevelopment than new zoning,” he said.

Anzek noted retail vacancy rates in the city have rebounded nicely from the economic recession and are currently at about 7 percent.

Versa is also developing a Starbucks location on Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak scheduled to open in the early fall.