Gateway Marketplace Meijer in Detroit. (July 2013)
DETROIT (WZZM) - Meijer, Inc. next week will cut the ribbon on its first store in the city of Detroit. It's located at 8 Mile and Woodward and will bring 500 jobs to a city struggling with unemployment and blight. It's the anchor in a new retail development with other stores including Marshall's.
Tami Salisbury of the Eight Mile Boulevard Association says, "It's the biggest development ever built in the city of Detroit."
The high-traffic site has been empty for decades; nearby are neighborhoods full of abandoned, burned-out homes. Developers are also improving the Penrose neighborhood, putting in new rental homes and a community garden.
"I think there's a level of confidence -- there's a lot of change going on in the city of Detroit," Salisbury said.
Meijer's president, J.K. Symancyk, and many other West Michigan business leaders believe that investing in Detroit is essential for the economic health of the entire state of Michigan.
"In this case in particular, the stakes are so much higher and there's so much investment in the community- - so many more need for us to fill," said Symancyk.
The new Meijer, like other new stores, will feature a Huntington bank branch with extended hours. Its furnishings were designed and built by Steelcase of Grand Rapids.
"We have to collaborate as a state, because we have to win as a state, not individual regions," said John Irwin, the regional president of Huntington.
A Whole Foods store opened in downtown Detroit last month. Meijer, however, is the first full-service, big box retailer to open in Motown in many years.
Meijer's Symancyk said, "There aren't a lot of places where those stories are being told across the U.S. The fact that it's happening in Detroit is great because frankly Detroit needs a few more of these stories."
The ribbon cutting for the 190,000 square foot Meijer store will occur on Thursday, July 25.
For more on this story, watch WZZM 13 News tonight at 6 p.m.