DETROIT-A 35-acre, 330,000-sf outdoor shopping mall will be built in Detroit, along Eight Mile Road, on part of the Michigan State Fairgrounds. The Detroit city council approved the project Wednesday.

The Shops at Gateway Park will be built at Eight Mile and Woodward Avenue by a consortium of business owners being led by Joseph Nederlander, who has put forward several development proposals for the area around the fairgrounds in recent years. The plans call for more than 330,000 sf of retail space for approximately 100 stores and restaurants, and 1,400 parking spaces. Plans also include the creation of a 250-seat theatre, featuring off-Broadway and children’s productions. Gateway Park will be the largest retail development in the history of the city and the largest such urban “lifestyle” center in the nation, according to the developers.

“This opportunity will cater to retail needs and ‘lifestyle’ pursuits of consumers,” Nederlander says. “Many national retailers and restaurants have expressed strong interest and were waiting for the city of Detroit to approve the zoning change before signing a lease.”

Other developers involved in the project are Howard Sims, chairman of the Detroit-based architectural firm Sims-Varner & Associates; Detroit attorney and former Ford Motor vice president Elliott S. Hall; Marvin Beatty, a retired deputy fire commissioner and managing partner with Greektown Casino; Ricardo Solomon, a principal in the firm Strategic Partners International, and local building contractor Bernard Schrott. J.L. Dumas Construction is the general contractor for project.

“Retail is no longer just shopping,” says Jim Ryan of JPRA Architects, which will perform the design work on the project. “It is entertainment, communication and lifestyle; it is an environment that invokes a sense of hospitality and vitality.”

A timeline for the project has not been announced. “Gateway Park will end what has at times been contentious debate about what would be best to build on the corner site at Eight Mile and Woodward,” says Bethany Holland, co-chair of the Ferndale-based South End Homeowners Association. “Gateway Park will provide desperately needed shopping for loyal area customers who are currently forced to spend their dollars outside the city at suburban malls.”

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