Meijer goes green with new store on horizon

May 31, 2009
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Although LEED certification isn’t part of the design now, but compliance is, the new Meijer store planned for the intersection of 28th Street and Kalamazoo Avenue on the city’s southeast side could qualify as a green building in another way.

The design of the new store solved many of the ecological and environmental concerns the Grand Rapids Planning Commission and nearby residents had when the first site plan was unveiled last fall.

“They’re trying to be proactive in taking care of the big issues,” said Suzanne Schulz, city planning director, to city commissioners recently.

The environmental and ecological actions Meijer Inc. took included:

  • Installing a sound-barrier fence 120 feet in length between the store and the nearby homes. The fence will reach 10 feet high in the most affected area and will screen residents from the noise made by delivery trucks.

  • Increasing the landscaping on the Kalamazoo Avenue side from 39 trees and 32 shrubs to 57 trees and 152 shrubs.

  • Growing the landscaping plans on the west and south property lines from 76 trees and 21 shrubs to 89 trees and 25 shrubs.

  • Adding a row of maple trees and evergreens on the south side of the 120-foot sound-barrier fence, which also features a row of arborvitae.

  • Committing to building a rain garden and an underground retention system to manage stormwater.

  • Building the loading zone 40 feet from the property line of the nearest home.

Meijer agreed to upgrade the store’s Kalamazoo Avenue façade to improve the building’s appearance and add five windows over the truck dock. The company also agreed to keep the existing store open while the new one is being built to ensure that the locations of the new store and loading docks remain the same as the old sites.

Mayor George Heartwell expressed his admiration that Meijer was willing to make the necessary changes and make the additional investment those changes will cost the company.

“I just appreciate Meijer for finding the time to create a solution,” said James White, 3rd Ward city commissioner.

“I think this will be very good for the city, especially for the Third Ward,” said Elias Lumpkins, also a 3rd Ward commissioner.

Construction calls for the demolition of one house and the removal of 16 mature maple trees. The new store will be 156,000 square feet — the same size of the Meijer that opened in Cedar Springs last month. The Cedar Springs outlet became the 188th store in the Meijer chain.

Meijer CEO Hank Meijer said a few months ago that the company planned to open five new stores this year. Three will be 156,000 square feet, while the other two will be superstore versions at 190,000 square feet.

Meijer said the retailer also will build a new distribution center this year between Detroit and Monroe and will remodel eight stores, mostly on the state’s southeast side.

“We are committed to new stores in Michigan and the remodeling of others,” he said.

Meijer added that all the company’s new stores would be LEED compliant, but the company wouldn’t seek certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. He explained that the difference between the two is the cost of seeking certification.

“In terms of new store construction, that is what we will do,” he said of complying with LEED guidelines.

City commissioners approved a zoning change for the Kalamazoo Avenue store last week. Construction could begin as early as this month.

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