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Village is ripe for condos, retailers

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Study: Village is ripe for condos, retailers

Grosse Pte. district probably won't draw another big tenant.

By R.J. King / The Detroit News

ROSSE POINTE - The Village of Grosse Pointe's shopping district, which steadily has lost retailers since the closure of Jacobson's department store two years ago, is hoping a new study can provide a road map for reinvigorating the area.

City leaders hired Detroit-based retail consultant Bieri Cos. last spring to recruit another major department store or other retailers to fill the void left by Jacobson's. The firm, which earned $33,000 for the study, found that national department stores such as Lord & Taylor, Nordstrom and Parisian weren't interested in the Jacobson's site due to its location near Lake St. Clair and Detroit.

"Because we don't have a true radius of shoppers, department stores were hard-pressed to justify spending millions of dollars on a new store," Mayor Dale Scrace said.

But Bieri concluded that the shopping district is ripe for a project that combines condominiums, retail outlets and offices similar to those in Birmingham or Northville. The report also recommended the addition of new storefronts in a series of surface parking lots near Kercheval. It could allow existing tenants to expand their operations.

Most of the parking lots, along with a small deck behind Jacobson's, are owned by the city. Overall, about 150,000 square feet of retail space could be added, Scrace said.

"This report was welcome news for us," he said. "It gives us a plan to move forward."

The two-story Jacobson's site, which spans a city block, is owned by The Velmeir Cos. in West Bloomfield Township.

Since the departure of Jacobson's, half a dozen retailers have closed in the affluent shopping strip, which extends three blocks along Kercheval, between Cadieux and Neff. On Wednesday, Bill Leonard closed Dennison's, a ladies apparel store that had been in business for 20 years.

"I'm retiring and moving to Florida, but there wasn't much interest in selling the business to someone else," Leonard said. "Since Jacobson's closed, we have seen retailers leave . . . "

In addition to Dennison's, recent closures include a clothing store, luggage shop, gallery and the consolidation of a Hallmark store.

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