RosevilleNovember 26, 2013
New Macomb Mall owners to redevelop Crowley’s building
By Kevin Bunch
C & G Staff Writer
ROSEVILLE — The development company that purchased the bulk of the Macomb Mall property last May has announced plans to demolish and replace the former Crowley’s/Value City building with a new one next year, and the company has an eye on redeveloping other parts of the mall.
Karl Zarbo, representing the Lormax Stern Development Company out of Bloomfield Hills, told the Roseville City Council Nov. 12 that the company wants to get demolition work underway around Dec. 2 so construction on a new building could begin as soon as weather allows in 2014.
“The exciting part is what we hope to redevelop there,” he said. “It’s a 50,000-square-foot box (storefront) and anchor. The footprint of where the Value City building was would house a single tenant.”
A tenant was not identified at the time of the meeting, though Zarbo suggested that the developers already had an interested company. He added that the developers hope to have the new store building completed by the fall of 2014.
“It’s aggressive, but as long as Mother Nature cooperates, it should be very achievable,” he said.
Lormax Stern owns and redeveloped Livonia Mall, which was built as the sister location to Macomb Mall, and Zarbo said he believed it has helped strengthen the businesses as a whole in that area.
“We think there is every opportunity for the Macomb Mall to become the regional center and presence that it was,” Zarbo said.
The Roseville City Council unanimously approved the creation of a commercial rehabilitation district around the Crowley’s building. City Manager Scott Adkins said that talks on this project began between Lormax Stern and the city shortly after the sale was completed in May. The Crowley’s building was deemed “obsolete” and full of issues by the city, he said, so the rehabilitation district gives the company a tax benefit.
Adkins said that if County Executive Mark Hackel signs off on the plan — which he has 30 days from Nov. 12 to do — it would freeze the property value for the property for 10 years, allowing the property owners to pay less in taxes if the property value would otherwise increase.
“We will still see an increase if the land value changes around there, and, while we have the personal property tax, we will still get that,” Adkins said. “Whatever they do is going to increase the surrounding value — there’s no doubt.”
He added that the rehabilitation district applies to the property itself, regardless of developers. He said the former K-Mart at 13 Mile Road was approved for an Emagine Theater project that eventually fell apart, but the building still has the rehabilitation district in place as an incentive to get another developer.
Adkins said the developers are also planning changes to the mall itself, which falls outside of the commercial rehabilitation district, as well as work on a multitenant building just south of the Crowley’s building, all of which could spur property value increases.
For the interior of the mall, Zarbo said Lormax Stern is evaluating amenity improvements, though planning is still in the early stages. He said they are interested in grouping retailers in the mall near each other so other areas could be redeveloped inside, adding a “junior anchor” store, in addition to Kohl’s, the new tenant, and Sears, which is still independent of Lormax Stern.
Zarbo added that changes to the interior of Livonia Mall seemed to make it more attractive to new businesses, and he felt that Macomb could follow suit and help the city spark additional commercial development along the Gratiot corridor.
He said the developers are also interested in tweaking the Macomb Mall sign, updating it with an electronic reader board, though since Sears owns the sign property, too, Zarbo said they would need to work together to make any changes there.
Public opinion seemed positive on the development during the city’s public hearing. Resident Dave Chesney pointed out that the mall has looked practically the same since it opened in November, 1964.
“The Macomb Mall definitely needs a new look,” Chesney said. “The mall will be exactly 50 years old. It opened right before the Christmas season of 1964. So Crowley’s definitely should come down.”
Charlotte Boyd said she wanted to see recognition of the historical events the mall has hosted over the years, including the U.S. bicentennial, and Zarbo said they would be interested in working with the city and the Roseville Historical & Genealogical Society to do that.
Lormax Stern plans to have a construction office on site so it can work closely with officials on keeping construction as close to approved plans as possible to keep costs in line, Zarbo added.
Adkins said the city has not discussed any further redevelopment assistance for other portions of the mall, but he did not rule it out.
“Certainly, there are other tools and programs they could use for the mall project, but this is the best-fitting tool to use for that case,” Adkins said, referring to the Crowley’s building. “We’re really looking forward to working with them. They have a great track record with projects they’re working on elsewhere.”