WHITE LAKE TOWNSHIP, MI-Ground has been broken for Village Lakes, a 39-acre, mixed-use development that will include 168,000 sf of retail that will include a J.C. Penney store, a 90,000-sf medical office for nearby St. Joseph Mercy Hospital and a residential component that may feature senior apartments. A few much-varied figures have been quoted for the development, from $34 million when it was introduced months ago, to township officials being told $184 million by developers.

The developers, a joint venture between Gershenson Realty and Kirco Development, did not return phone calls for comment. Gershenson Kirco is made up of brothers Bruce, Richard and Joel Gershenson, who left brother Dennis Gershenson in charge of Ramco-Gershenson Realty Trust, and Alan Kiriluk and son Matt from Troy-based Kirco.

Mike Kowall, township supervisor, tells GlobeSt.com that bulldozers have started moving earth for the project. “We’re still working on the final aspects of the planned unit development, but it is an approved plan,” he says. “We know there’s going to be at least four more larger retailers, we don’t know who yet. There will also be one small Starbucks site, and three restaurant pads.”

The residential portion of the property is still in question, Kowall says. A senior housing facility had been talked about, he says, but there has not been a site plan brought before the township Board of Trustees. Across Elizabeth Lake Road, there’s property approved for 70 large single-family homes, but again, no plan has been approved.

The township is northwest of Detroit, and is one the edge, or maybe even just slightly beyond, the new development growth in the area. White Lake is mostly made up of green space and large home sites; in fact, 51% of the township is un-buildable parks, wetlands, rivers and other protected areas, Kowall says. However, the parcels are on M-59, the only main east-west corridor that’s west of the major I-75 north-south corridor for the Detroit area, and new retail development has been steadily creeping west along M-59. White Lake saw the development of a Meijer department store three years ago, along with other retail additions. “There’s a major demand for retail in this area; the closest mall is the suffering Summit Place Mall in Pontiac,” Kowall says.

He says the township board will meet today, Wednesday, with the Oakland County Road Commission and the Michigan Department of Transportation to discuss what could be done to M-59 to allow for the Village Lakes development. “Ideally, I’d like to see them turn it into a boulevard,” Kowall says.

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