TROY, MI-The preliminary go-ahead for the $300-million plan units to replace the former 900,000-sf Kmart headquarters, with up to 600,000 sf of retail, 300,000 sf of office, a 250-room hotel and 750 multifamily units, could come as soon as Oct. 15. The city council will hold a public hearing then to consider the rezoning of the property to planned unit development, which would allow the multitude of uses proposed by the developers, a joint venture of Richardson Development Group and Boorn Partners. New York City-based BlackRock owns the property, purchased from Sears Holding Corp. in June 2005 following the exodus of thousands of Kmart employees to the Sears headquarters in Hoffman Estates, IL.

Though it announced the plan this spring, the joint venture presented its plan for the Pavilions of Troy to the council for the first time on Monday night. The city’s planning commission agreed at its Sept. 11 meeting to recommend the project to the council.

Hunter Richardson, a principal of the self-named firm, told the council that there’s a demonstrated need for more retail in the city, even though the project will be very close to the popular, affluent Somerset Mall. “We think Somerset will actually do better because of our development,” he told the council. “We’re going to make this a livable, walk-able community, with people places, places to dine and places to live. There’s not anything like it in the Metropolitan Detroit area.”

Brian Murphy, the real estate director for Troy, tells that Richardson is right about the retail. “This project will be complimentary to Somerset,” he says. “We had a study done by the Chesapeake Group, and they showed that Troy is well-positioned to be able to absorb greater levels of retail and development than what is proposed.” The city of 80,000 doesn’t have a downtown to call its own, and lost its last movie theater when Oakland Mall closed its AMC about a decade ago.

However, this new project will include a movie theater as an anchor, Richardson told the council Monday. The first phase of the project will include most of the retail, about 60,000 sf of office and about 200 of the multifamily units. “We’re looking at 290,000 sf of shops, and 210,000 sf of anchors. The anchors will include a major bookstore, health club, theater and grocery store. We haven’t had any leases signed, but there are a number of retailers who want to come in, including a couple of locations not in Michigan now who only had a handful of locations they would consider,” he said. Richardson has said the companies would like to start demolition at the start of 2008, begin construction in the summer 2008 and open in the fall of 2010.

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