The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

February 22, 2012

Meijer looks to join north side

Watchfire expansion on agenda

DANVILLE — When Wal-Mart was opening in 1995, Meijer also had an interest in opening on the city’s north side.

Meijer withdrew its zoning petition prior to any city vote.

Now with Kohl’s set to open in early 2013 — pushed back from October — and another junior anchor also to open in the spring of 2013, Meijer is interested in joining the new retail shopping center at the former K’s Merchandise area.

With city zoning and annexation approvals, Meijer will be located southeast of Kohl’s on North Vermilion Street, and behind Tractor Supply Co., 3623 N. Vermilion St.

The store typically hires about 250 people and invests about $15 million in a site of the size planned for Danville.

Meijer’s gas station/convenience store would be located along Vermilion Street, north of Tractor Supply Co.

Two buildings will be demolished north of Tractor Supply, a two-story residence and a commercial building. Both are vacant.

The Meijer store is about 191,000 square feet. This compares to Wal-Mart’s 200,000 square feet of space, with its auto center.

Meijer will have a drive-up pharmacy.

Access for Meijer will be the intersection of Boiling Springs Road and Vermilion Street, where a traffic signal already is in place, and also a roadway adjacent to Tractor Supply Co.

The Danville Area Planning & Zoning Commission will consider a rezoning petition for 3629-3633 N. Vermilion St. to be changed from B2 highway business to B3 general business zoning at its March 1 meeting, as well as property east of and adjacent to the properties commonly referred to as 3623-3633 N. Vermilion St. be changed from agriculture to B3 general business zoning for the purpose of constructing Meijer’s store.

The store and gas station, in addition to another out lot that Meijer will own and likely try to sell to another entity and a detention basin area, will sit on about 23 acres. Woolpert, Inc. of Oakbrook Terrace is the engineering/design firm representing Meijer with the rezoning petition.

Also, the zoning commission will consider an expansion of Watchfire signs, 1015 Maple St.

Watchfire is requesting the zoning of the property commonly referred to as 1009 and 1011 Maple Street be changed from R2 single-family residential zoning to I1 light industrial and the property commonly referred to as 1012 Brook St. be changed from AG agriculture zoning to I1 light industrial zoning. A subdivision plat also must be approved.

According to Meijer’s website, Meijer has 190 stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky, with local stores in Champaign, Urbana and Lafayette, Ind.

The retailer has been family-owned for 75 years.

Corporate offices are in Grand Rapids, Mich.

The store started in Greenville, Mich., in 1934. Hendrik Meijer was meeting the needs of a small town with a small grocery store.

In 1962, Meijer pioneered the first supercenter, which now offers a one-stop shopping experience, from grocery and health and beauty care to more than 40 other departments including fashion, automotive, home decor, pharmacy, electronics, pets and more, according to Meijer’s website.

Meijer stores and gas stations are open 24 hours a day, 364 days a year. The chain was ranked No. 13 on Forbes’ 2011 list of “America’s Largest Private Companies.”

Danville Planning and Zoning Manager Chris Milliken said the eastern portion of land, about 12 acres, of where Meijer will sit, is not in the city limits. An annexation agreement is expected to come to the city council’s public works committee on March 13 and the full city council on March 20 for action.

Milliken said a variance also will be needed for signage, including for a larger freestanding sign for the store and its gas prices.

Property owners for the land being pieced together for the project are Danville Foundation for Industrial Growth, whose secretary is Vicki Haugen, president and CEO of Vermilion Advantage; Deborah Klein Investments and Stephanie W. Spiros; the Jerry G. Walker Trust; and the Ellen M. Walker Trust and Jeremy G. Walker.

Mayor Scott Eisenhauer said the city has not committed any funding for the Meijer project.

“The city has made no commitments for any type of sales tax incentive,” Eisenhauer said. “To date, they’ve not obligated us to anything.”

“We never really talked about (sales projections),” Eisenhauer said.

He also didn’t have a good estimate on the number of jobs to be created.

“It’s been a fantastic process, working with their development team,” he said. “Their entire development team has been wonderful to work with. They certainly came in interested.”

Serious talks started in April 2011.

“Because of the size of the project, there was a great deal of site work that needed to be done (and we) put together parcels to make the project work,” Eisenhauer said.

He said the project is being coordinated with the Kohl’s and junior anchor projects, such as how everything will tie in with traffic patterns, infrastructure, etc.

The city will continue to work with the developers and Illinois Department of Transportation on reconfiguring traffic movement in that area, Eisenhauer said.

With Kohl’s now not opening until spring 2013, Kohl’s sales tax incentives will be altered. That will mean some reimbursement back to the city for not meeting the certain time frames.

“Obviously we’re extremely excited (about Meijer coming to Danville),” Eisenhauer said. “Meijer had an interest in the city before, but for whatever reason they did not commit to the community.”

He said Meijer is very serious about this market and wants to be a member of the Danville community. Eisenhauer said while some businesses have some of the products that Meijer carries, none carry all of the same products.

“We think that will offer another retail opportunity (and) new merchandise into the marketplace,” he said.

Eisenhauer said Meijer was interested in the North Vermilion Street location because of the new retail stores planned there and knowing it would be one of the new anchors in a new retail center in the city.

Haugen said many details had to be worked out for this project.

“But we are very excited about the pace going now,” she said.

She said Meijer could be proud owners of the land at the end of June, with city approvals.

Haugen said “it’s an exciting time” for the community with a tremendous amount of activity along the North Vermilion Street corridor.

“There are some significant opportunities to fill leakage …,” she said of residents shopping outside of the county for items. “We think (the store) will be very strong in keeping more people in the area.”

Haugen said there’s really no difference than when Wal-Mart opened, then Lowe’s and Menards.

The new stores bring back some new dollars.

“There’s buzz on all of the (retail) projects,” she said.

COMING UP

The Danville Area Planning and Zoning Commission will meet at 5:15 p.m. Thursday, March 1 at the municipal building, 17 W. Main St.

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