$10 million project begins at LP Shopping Center

By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK – Redevelopment of the Lincoln Park Shopping Center may symbolize more than just the considerable $10 million investment at the corner of Dix-Toledo and Southfield roads.

With permits pulled and plans approved, crews began construction and renovation work at the site for the project, which has the potential for bringing up to 600 jobs once complete.

“It’s a trend changer,” Lincoln Park City Manager Steve Duchane said. “It puts a new mark in the ground we can build off. The tide has to turn.”

Envisioned as a gateway to Lincoln Park and Allen Park, the shopping center sits on 22 acres with, currently, about 300,000 square feet of retail space, much of it no longer active. Once the home of a Farmer Jack, the center’s occupancy rate declined along with its infrastructure.

Yet the location remained attractive to some, including Farmington Hills-based Grand Sakwa Properties, which purchased the strip mall in September 2010. Believing the site had the potential to stimulate the local economy and serve as the foundation for a community gateway, Sakwa plans more than $10 million worth of improvements. Buildings will be rebuilt, exteriors upgraded and infrastructure repaired under the plan, which is expected to be completed by year’s end.

Sakwa is reportedly in negotiations with several key tenants to occupy the currently empty spaces.

“They have some they’re working with,” Duchane said. “There are quite a few open spaces, some are still active. Most of (the $10 million) is going to upgrade the center physically.” Officials declined to speculate on which retail businesses may set up shop in the center.

The renovation project is a joint enterprise with the cities of Lincoln Park and Allen Park, and Wayne County, officials from which worked together to secure Brownfield and other grants for the project.

“A major shopping center is significant,” Duchane said. “It means there are some things we can count on to bring traffic to the district. In a bad time in the economy, any of these good news stories are welcome and outstanding.”

(James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)