The new Whole Foods store opening Wednesday in Midtown Detroit won’t be the only new grocery to arrive on the scene this year.
A new full-sized Meijer store will open in late July in the new Gateway shopping center near 8 Mile and Woodward. The opening will mark the first Meijer store within the city of Detroit, employing more than 500 workers and encompassing some 190,000 square feet of space, making it a full Meijer Supercenter.
But even that won’t stop the influx of new offerings. Meijer also controls the site of the former Redford High School in northwest Detroit and may be building there in the next couple of years, although Meijer spokesman Frank Guglielmi said there’s no announcement yet about that site.
“It’s prepped for a store but our focus is on 8 Mile right now,” he said last week in an e-mail to the Free Press.
And the popular suburban grocery Papa Joe’s will open a full-service market next year in the first-floor space in the First National Building, one of the many downtown properties owned and being revitalized by Quicken Loans founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert in the central business district.
The Papa Joe’s store is now in the design and construction stage and is expected to open early next year, offering a full bar, wine system, prepared foods, outdoor seating and more.
The arrival of Whole Foods, Meijer and Papa Joe’s is not without mild controversy. In recent years, some of the existing grocers in the city have complained that developers have gotten city or state incentives to create the centers that will be home to Whole Foods or the new Meijer, incentives that typically do not go to existing stores that have done business in the city for years or decades.
After all, the city is home to about 85 existing grocers, including the Harbortown Market in the east riverfront district and Honey Bee Market in the Mexican Town area.
But industry officials say they still welcome the new high-profile retailers to a city that badly needs more of everything.
“The only issue we’ve ever had is incentives that subsidize some and not others,” said Auday Arabo, president and CEO of MIRA, the industry association for food and petroleum dealers.
“It’s great that we have more businesses opening in the city of Detroit,” he said. “Competition is a good thing. The retailers that have been there for a long time are looking forward to competing and really showing off what they can do.
“Just because they don’t have a big name doesn’t mean they don’t have the same type of quality and customer service.”
Contact John Gallagher: 313-222-5173 or firstname.lastname@example.org.