Progress seen for shopping center, roads

By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers

LINCOLN PARK — Plans are made, agreements ready to sign, and the city took steps last week to begin local road improvements and a rebuilt Lincoln Park Shopping Center.

The City Council on Monday approved an amended Brownfield Act and intergovernmental agreement with Allen Park to clear the way for demolition work at the Shopping Center, a 22-acre complex at Southfield and Dix-Toledo roads.

The property, acquired by Grand Sakwa in 2010, fell far from its glory days with the closing of Farmer Jack. Only a handful of businesses remain in operation at the complex, which once housed 26 reail addresses.

Last year, an easement granted to Grand Sakwa was challenged by neighboring Sears, further stalling progress. Mayor Patricia Diaz-Krause said that the revised agreements signed by Lincoln Park officials last week should clear the way for progress.

Wal-Mart developers are interested in building the “big box” anchor at the complex that should inspire additional businesses.

“My fingers are crossed that once Allen Park signs off, all obstacles are removed,” Diaz-Krause said. About one-third of the property under development is in Allen Park, the rest in Lincoln Park.

After demolition is done, Grand Sakwa will begin an estimated $10 million worth of redevelopment.

Attracting businesses to revitalize Lincoln Park is a multi-pronged plan, Diaz Krause said. A crumbling infrastructure is a “tough sell” to investors, she said, and residents and retailers alike need to see road improvements among other signs of progress.

Last week, the city council approved ballot placement for November of a bond proposal to raise $30 million over 10 years for road and infrastructure improvements. Diaz Krause said that any election question involving funds will face challenges before gaining voter approval.

“We need to do a good promotion and provide a lot of details to the residents,” Diaz Krause said.

Several miles of residential streets have been identified as needing repair work, as do a number of public facilities and parks. A group of volunteers painted the Memorial Park bandshell earlier this summer before the annual concert series season; additional work remains to repair and make usable facilities such as public tennis courts.

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