Still For Sale In Acme

You can’t drive through Acme without realizing that two large and prominent former retail properties – over 20 acres total just off busy US-31 – are vacant. The former Tom’s Market and the former Kmart are still in the market, the former with some potential bites lately and the latter with two redevelopment proposals that ultimately failed.

Tom’s Acme closed in Spring 2019, went on sale in February 2021, and is now priced at $ 1.397 million. Each new owner will take over a 44,534 square meter brick building, 288 parking lot, storage garage and a total of more than 9 hectares. A stroll through the now-vacant store evokes nostalgia for Tom’s heyday, when founder Dan Deering struggled to keep up with the growth in the area, only seeing Meijer as a major competitor, and decided to build the state-of-the-art Acme store in 1983 during construction and the opening of the Grand Traverse Resort on US-31. Today scrap companies have cleared out most of the furnishings, and the remains of the giant refrigeration units will soon be gone. It’s a white box waiting for a new owner.

“It has many options,” says Jim Christians, Real Estate One agent, during a walkthrough. “Flex zoning in the township enables so many uses, including retail, residential, light industry – or almost any combination.”

Multiple sources tell The Ticker that Horrocks Market in the Grand Rapids area viewed the location as a possible location for expansion, although Christians were unable to confirm these reports. But if that’s true, you’re not alone: ​​Christians says the former grocery store is getting keen interest with 13 serious demonstrations. He adds that everyone who toured the site said they would keep the building and have multiple uses on the property.

Next door, the property – and the problems – are much bigger. The former Kmart store, spanning over 11 acres, closed in March 2017 when Sears dismantled the Kmart concept nationwide. At its peak, Kmart had 2,486 stores in all 50 states; there are only 17 left today. In July 2018, Paul Bandrowski and his affordable housing company Inphastos announced an ambitious plan to convert the three hectares under one roof into a technology research and development facility. The following year, Bandrowski said his investment firm intended to take over the former Pugsley Prison in Fife Lake as well. Though both ideas were backed by the local communities – and the company itself had the financial backing of dozens of prominent Traverse City business owners – Inphastos grew too fast and crashed just as quickly. This went hand in hand with the possible redevelopment of the Acme Kmart site.

Bloomfield Hills-based real estate company Lormax Stern bought the property from Sears-Roebuck in 2019 for $ 1.4 million. The company had a planned development that would include retail, self-storage, office space and apartments within the building and in several planned “outlot” buildings. After years of talks with Acme Township, developers returned in 2021 with a revised plan that included self-storage in the existing building and workers’ apartments along US-31. These efforts would have been made in collaboration with the HomeStretch Affordable Housing nonprofit.

“Economically, the workers’ apartment was a big loser for us,” says Daniel Stern from Lormax Stern to The Ticker, “but we integrated it because the community asked for it.” At public hearings on the proposal, however, several residents spoke out against the idea of ​​self-storage at the “gate to the community”. Ultimately, the Acme Planning Commission advised against proceeding because the project did not meet zoning ordinance standards and it was rejected, leaving Daniel Stern frustrated.

“We’ve had properties before that potential users haven’t contacted us,” he says. “But a lot of people have contacted us here, but no interest from the local community. He says it was only four months ago that a company in the Traverse City area considered moving its headquarters to the site and “creating a tremendous amount of jobs. We talked to the community and they weren’t interested. “

Karly Wentzloff, Chair of the Acme Township Planning Commission, says no proposal was made to the commission for this company and that one of the main reasons for rejecting the original warehouse and housing estate was because the proposed housing was not included in Phase 1 and would not have been guaranteed.

Today Stern’s asking price depends on it. “If someone came with cash and could close in 30 days, it could be a prize. But if their use required community rezoning, there might not be a number high enough to accept. ”After developing real estate across the state, Stern was asked if Acme Township was proving to be a difficult place for the Closing a deal has turned out. “I just want to point out his story,” he replies, referring to the years of argument with Meijer and his own experiences. “The place has no traffic or people walking around. It needs to be powered. “

Wentzloff agrees on this last point.

“The growth will eventually expand to Acme, and we’re trying to plan for that and keep development tight. We need vitality, and these are two very large plots with the potential to anchor Acme as a community. “

Stern adds that one option he might consider is opening a marine superstore in the former Kmart space. Lormax Stern already owns KAM Marine and Yacht Sales with two locations in Detroit and also the Northport Boat Yard in Leelanau County.

One factor any potential user of the land would face is the lack of communal water supply in the community, although the community’s trustees recently voted to consider building their own water system.

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