Developer interest in city parcels continues

Sunday Times Newspapers

SOUTHGATE – While no official announcements are ready on three of the largest unused properties in Southgate, City Administrator Bryce Kelley said it’s just a matter of time as all signs point to continued investment.

“I’m getting at least one call a week from some business or interested investor,” Kelley said. “With the questions they’re asking it means they’re taking a serious look at properties.”

Earlier this year Mayor Joseph Kuspa, in his State of the City address, indicated that he anticipates progress on what may be the three largest parcels in need of development: The PNC Bank Tower on Trenton Road; the site of Aquinas High School on North Line Road; and the former Kmart building at the intersection of Fort Street and Pennsylvania Road.

Kelley said announcements should be forthcoming on these parcels. Meetings were expected this month with a broker and “an interested party” for development of the PNC facility; a developer is currently doing due diligence to consider use of the old Aquinas buildings or property; and there are developers interested in the old Kmart property.

Interest in these parcels is matched by inquires about idle car dealerships on Fort Street and the remaining store fronts at Southgate Shopping Center, which Kelley said has been on the rise thanks to city development of Market Center Park and business investment to include Downriver Gymnastics, Planet Fitness and several restaurants.

“The retail activity and food businesses are doing great,” Kelley said. “We don’t have a lot of industrial land but we’re getting some looks on what we have. The kinds of questions they ask mean they’re giving it a serious look.”

Callers who ask about the city’s demographics are told that last year the city posted a 267 percent increase in commercial permit activity. Property values improved last year by nearly 3 percent on average; sites such as the new Holiday Inn Express and the former O’Dell Chiropractic clinic have been treated to millions of dollars in investments; and the city’s stability continues to grow as it erases what had once been a multi-million dollar deficit.

The developments have been desirable for potential investors, Kelley said, with an emphasis on consumer activity.

“I believe that Southgate will be part of the new investment into consumers and entertainment venues,” Kelley said. “Those seem to be popular in all high-end areas, and we’re following that trend.”

(James Mitchell can be reached at