FLINT TOWNSHIP, MI-Construction is expected to begin early next year on a boulevard-style outdoor development on the former Montgomery Ward’s site in the Genesee Valley shopping center. Mall officials believe the wrecking ball could hit the store in December, setting the stage for the new construction.

Ward’s closed in January 2001. The outdoor development will include a new entranceway and glass-tower atriums, restaurant, large-format bookstore, a cafe and other stores. The mall is spending $17 million to $20 million on the new development and interior renovations.

Drew Barkett, executive vice president for Florida-based Turnberry Associates, the Flint Township mall’s marketing agency, says the project remains on track, despite missing the summer building season following a May announcement. “We’re just fine-tuning the deal,” Barkett says. “We’re real gung-ho. We’re going to have a lot of quality tenants that are first-timers to this market.”

Barket says final negotiations with tenants are underway and mall officials should announce the stores soon. Barkett previously had announced that Talbot’s likely would move from a nearby location to the new development, but other tenants remain undisclosed.

The renovated Genesee Valley is expected to face new competition from two mammoth shopping centers planned for Grand Blanc Township. Heritage Village, a 600,000-sf shopping center, is planned for Deer Park, while the 300,000-sf Trillium Circle Village “lifestyle center” is set for the intersection of Holly and McCandlish roads.

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