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WALKER, MI-This suburb of Grand Rapids may be getting a $400 million, Cabela’s-anchored, mixed-use center, thanks to a recent $39 million approved tax capture. However, it’s not clear that Cabela’s, the large outdoors distributor, will join in, as the retailer continues to eliminate planned stores across the country.

The state recently touted the $400 million Orchard Park project in a set of brownfield redevelopments. The property is a former apple orchard, at Interstate 96 and Walker Ave. NW. Proposed are 1.4 million sf of retail, 135,000 sf of office, 325 apartments, 114 townhomes and condos, a 150-room hotel and a 160-room resort/water park hotel, with the possibility of employing more than 3,600 people.

It’s a unique situation for Walker–this property will not, technically, be considered part of the city. Because of how brownfield laws are written, the city could not apply for state funds to help redevelop the property. However, the city of Wyoming, eight miles away, could apply. To gain the $39 million, Wyoming will transfer the property and will use the funds in a TIF to fund the infrastructure for the development. “For all intents and purposes, it will be in the city of Walker, they’ll handle all the services. We’ll get the base property tax; on an annual basis a little over $50,000,” Wyoming’s city manager Curtis Holt tells GlobeSt.com. “”We’re really doing it because we want to help bring in the jobs to the area.”

Urban Retail Properties Co., based in the Chicago area, and Trademark Property Co. had announced their joint venture to build the project in November 2006, with about half of the project planned today and with an opening date of 2009. However, Trademark has dropped out of the project, says attorney Zachary Bossenbroek, who represents Urban for Orchard Park. Ross Glickman, CEO of Urban, did not return a phone call for this story.

Bossenbroek tells GlobeSt.com that it’s not clear if Cabela’s is going to make good on an earlier plan to anchor the development with a 125,000-sf store. The company’s wares have been very popular, as another store in Dundee, MI has been the most popular tourist attraction in the state. “We can’t get into too much detail about Cabela’s. Back in January, they announced a delay in opening stores, that’s the latest they’ve publicly announced. However, there’s a lot of positive things going on behind the scenes.” He says there’s a lot of interest by retailers and other tenants for the property, but they are all waiting on an anchor announcement. “Our expectation is that, if an anchor is found, we can start construction in 2009 on the public infrastructure, and ultimately on the first phase in 2011,” Bossenbroek says.

A Cabela’s spokesman did not return a call for comment, and a published future store list does not show any Michigan properties. The company had pressed hard for a new store in 2006, submitting marketing materials to the city of Walker that promised 3.5-million annual visitors to the store, and sales exceeding $52 million in the first year. Wyoming’s Holt tells GlobeSt.com that he thinks there will be good news soon. “We’re waiting on Cabela’s to make the final commitments,” Holt says. “The discussions have been positive. I expect there will be an announcement by the company in the next month or so.”

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