Upscale grocery growth hints at economic rebound

Posted on July 12, 2012

Busch’s Fresh Food Markets Inc. is planning to build a store in Canton Township, a possible sign of improving economic conditions in Metro Detroit.

The 54,000-square-foot store would be the 16th in the Ann Arbor-based chain of upscale groceries that sell local and organic produce, meat and seafood, bakery and deli items as well as beer and wine.

It will employ up to 100 full-time and part-time workers and is scheduled to open next summer, the company said in a statement.

The rebounding economy in Michigan played a role in the decision, Busch’s said, along with the company’s desire to expand in western Wayne County, where it already has stores in nearby Plymouth and Livonia.

“We have been looking to bring Busch’s to the neighboring Canton community for several years,” Busch’s CEO John Busch said in a statement.

“The economics did not make sense in recent years, but the timing and opportunity are now right for us to expand our market share in western Wayne County.”

Upscale groceries have been expanding in Metro Detroit.

Whole Foods Market Inc., the Austin, Texas-based chain of natural and organic food stores, plans to open a 20,000-square-foot store in Detroit’s Midtown area in spring 2013.

Tony Curtis, part owner of the three-location Papa Joe’s Gourmet Market & Catering chain in Oakland County, told The Detroit News in May that he is exploring the viability of setting up a store in Detroit.

Busch’s real estate entity bought the empty former Farmer Jack grocery building and the accompanying shopping center shopping plaza at 225 S. Canton Center Road. The shopping center has several tenants.

Busch’s said Canton Township Supervisor Phil LaJoy and Terry Bixler of ROC Real Estate helped complete the transaction.

LaJoy said the township didn’t provide any incentives, but he worked to recruit a grocery store to the location. Canton has more than 90,000 residents.

The three highest-profile grocery announcements in the Detroit region in the past year have involved state incentive money.

The developer of Whole Foods received $4.2 million in private and public incentives.

A Meijer superstore is scheduled to open at Woodward and Eight Mile in Detroit in spring 2013 at The Gateway Marketplace project, which has received approval for $6.1 million in brownfield tax credits and a school tax break valued at about $10.8 million, among other incentives.

A developer also has received approval for state money to tear down the old Redford High School and prepare the site for a Meijer superstore.

Metro grocery developments

Other food markets planned in Metro Detroit:

A 20,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market store in Detroit’s Midtown area scheduled for spring 2013.
A Meijer superstore to anchor the Gateway Marketplace project at Eight Mile and Woodward in Detroit. Scheduled opening is spring 2013.
A developer has received state incentives to tear down and prepare the old Redford High School site in Detroit for a Meijer. No opening date is set.
Papa Joe’s Gourmet Market & Catering is considering starting a grocery in Detroit

By: The Detroit News