Traverse City Record-Eagle

Meijer-Acme Township Dispute

April 14, 2010

Meijer moves to reduce Acme store design

TRAVERSE CITY -- A proposed Meijer store in Acme Township will sport a smaller design, possibly similar to a remodeled store in metro Detroit.

Developers for the proposed Village at Grand Traverse project cited the poor economy when they told township officials in recent meetings of plans to reduce the overall density of commercial development on the 182-acre Village site on M-72 east of Lautner Road.

The anchor tenant, Meijer Inc., will use a different store prototype that is about 10,000 feet smaller than a 207,364-square-foot store proposed in 2004.

A Meijer store near Waterford in Oakland County is the example most often discussed by developers from Jeffrey R. Anderson Real Estate Inc. of Cincinnati, said Sharon Vreeland, Acme Township manager.

"It's a little more of a downtown feel with not just a flat, expansive wall," Vreeland said. "Even though it's still a big place you get a feeling of a smaller place, and that's what we're looking for and what they are looking for, according to their own design guidelines."

Anderson Real Estate officials did not return messages left over two days both at their office and on their cell phones. Meijer officials and Steve Smith, managing partner for The Village at Grand Traverse LLC, also did not return messages.

In a Feb. 24 letter to the township, JR Anderson, vice president of Anderson Real Estate, asked Acme officials to start an informal process to work on a "less dense Village at Grand Traverse project."

Developers restarted a project initially approved in 2004 following five years of lawsuits, an unsuccessful recall effort that involved illegal campaign activity funded by Meijer, and plenty of political acrimony over previous development plans for The Village property and another nearby Meijer-owned site.

Denny Rohn, president of Concerned Citizens of Acme Township, a group that filed the initial lawsuit against the project in 2004, said she's not surprised developers want to go smaller.

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