Showcase Site Gets Green Light

November 8, 2002
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CASCADE TOWNSHIP — A local company recently got green lights from the feds and the state to develop the largest remaining commercial parcel on 28th Street, the second most-traveled road in the state.

Hund-Fink Acquisitions LLC received permission from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Environmental Quality to turn 65 acres of a 120-acre parcel into a new retail center. The property at 5100 28th St. SE currently is home to the 10-screen Showcase Cinemas theater and is valued at roughly $8 million.

The deal between Hund-Fink and National Amusements, the chain that owns the movie house and the property, should close on Jan. 2.

The developers had hoped to build on 75 acres of the site when they began discussions with the DEQ last summer. But Jeff Hundley, a partner with Ed and Mark Finkelstein in the limited liability company doing the project, told the Business Journal that 65 acres gives them enough land to go ahead with their plan.

"We have about 65 acres that is fully developable," said Hundley. "I'm not certain that we've removed all of our contingencies, but we are going to purchase the property on January 2nd."

The plan has the developers building at least 500,000 square feet of retail and hotel space. The exact size and value of the development won't be known until the site plan is completed and the tenants are lined up. But a fair estimate places the value between $50 million and $75 million — and quite possibly just south of $100 million — while the size of the project could stretch from 600,000 to 700,000 square feet.

"Now we can actually start to figure out what we're going to do. We're going to try to make it unlike other centers, the standard big box deals. We're going to try to make it a little higher end," said Hundley, also the director of Colburn-Hundley Inc., a commercial real estate firm in Grand Rapids.

"But it's all market driven. If we get the higher-end guys, great. If we can't, the market is what the market is," he added. "But our intention is to try to go after a higher end, which Home Expo is."

Hundley said Home Expo has two outlets in the metro Detroit area and the stores carry just about everything imaginable in the upscale home-building and home-improvement line, except for the lumber. If they can land the store, it would be the only one on this side of the state.

"Let's say someone is building a house and they want to look at Viking stoves. They might find a place in town that has one, maybe two on display. If they go to Home Expo, they'll have 20," he said.

"If someone wants to build a house, they can buy anything except the lumber there."

In addition to their retail plans for the site, Hundley said they are setting aside about 10 acres for hotel rooms. He added that a couple of major higher-end chains have expressed an interest in the site, which is just west of I-96, a busy east-west expressway.

About 52,000 vehicles travel past the Cascade Township property every day, and more than 91,000 people with an average household income of nearly $65,000 live within five miles of the site. Those numbers make the parcel a valuable chunk of commercial real estate and the last large one left to be developed.

"We'll start on our site plans now," said Hundley, "and we'll start meeting with people."           

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