Residents in the Houghton and Hancock area will soon have a new big box grocery and retail store to choose from. Discussions have been underway for nearly a year between Meijer, Inc. and the city offices about the possibility of a Houghton Meijer location. The sale of that property was recently approved by the City Council.
“The city council approved for the mayor to sign the closing documents and there’s a closing schedule for a couple of weeks from now,” said Houghton City Manager Eric Waara.
Earlier this year the Houghton City Council approved an intent to purchase agreement with Meijer, allowing the retailer to perform its pre-site research and surveys with a specific location in mind. Waara said, “They’ve been working on site plans for the site. It’s a little over 20 acres, so there’s quite a bit of work to do as far as site planning, driveways, they’re working on that, I know they’re working with MDOT right now on how the driveways may or may not be oriented on the site, and they’ll have to go through site plan reviews. Then once the site plan review is done, the next step would be a building permit.”
That location is on the edge of the city limits bordering with Portage Township. In fact, part of the parcel falls into the township limits, but the two municipalities were able to reach a zoning agreement that allows the city to assume zoning for the entire parcel under a State of Michigan 425 agreement. “Portage Township, once they got through fact finding and what not, as far as the 425, of course they voted for it, the city voted for it. We’re both on board there, so that’s all settled as well,” Waara said.
While local residents have mixed feelings about a new box store in town, rumors have surfaced that opening could be this year, but Waara says he’s not so sure about that. However, breaking ground may not be all that far away. “Realistically, looking at the magnitude of the construction, I don’t expect to see a store open in 2019, but that’s completely up to them, but probably within the next month or two, they’ll be eligible to get building permits,” he said.
The total lot that the store and gas station will be built on is actually made up of three pieces of property, two of them are privately owned. “The city’s portion, the landlocked portion was sold for $200,000, less a couple thousand in closing costs which have to be devoured between the buyer and the seller,” Waara said.
Waara believes that the addition of a Meijer will be good for the city’s economic development. “Construction is always fun and more shopping choices in town will certainly be an addition to what we have to offer here in Houghton,” he said.