Gateway Marketplace signals transformational change to the new "Uptown"

The much-anticipated Meijer located at the new Gateway Marketplace on the southeast corner of Eight Mile and Woodward Avenue is scheduled to open July 25. While this might not actually be the most buzzed-about grocery store opening in recent memory, it is no less significant.
"(Gateway Marketplace) allows us to command a higher and better use (for vacant land along the Eight Mile corridor)," says Tami Salisbury, Executive Director of the Eight Mile Boulevard Association. "It makes our large parcels of land more and more attractive. (We) have very large parcels of land that are available for investment."
Large parcels of land that include the currently unoccupied State Fairgrounds, which is now under development consideration by a group of investors. Governor Granholm twice issued a RFP (request for proposals) for this parcel without success; now there is a proposal in place and moving forward from partners Marvin Beatty, Joel Ferguson, and Earvin "Magic" Johnson under the name Magic Plus, LLC. Beatty is also a partner in Gateway Marketplace, and so has a vested interest in the success of both the Fairgrounds and the Marketplace, which means the two massive developments "won't cannibalize each other."
While construction has taken just over a year, for Salisbury, this has been a project nearly a decade in the making. "We started having meetings about this nine or ten years ago," she says. "The DNR sold this property to the Marketplace folks in 2003 or 2004." Three years ago the investment group behind the Marketplace hired Redico to be the property developers and management company. The development officially broke ground last May.
At 325,000 square feet and sitting on 36 acres, Gateway Marketplace is most likely the largest commercial retail development in Detroit's history. In addition to Meijer, the Marketplace will also be home to a Marshall's, K & G Superstore, PNC Bank, Five Below, Payless Shoes, Petco, McDonald's, Subway, SVS Optical, Dots, and Wingstop. The Eight Mile Boulevard Association will also be moving its offices into one of the spaces. Meijer will be the first to open, followed by staggered openings through September.
The entire development is creating 800 new jobs, 500 of which come from the 190,000-square-foot Meijer alone. Salisbury says that this is the first kind of all-in-one store that has been built in the city, offering not only groceries but also a pharmacy, clothing, home and garden supplies, and a gas station.
They expect to see 2,500-3,500 people per day in the Marketplace: 100,000 cars pass this intersection every single day, and it is also located along the route of two major bus lines.
Salisbury sees this development as a huge boon in the stimulation of economic investment to the area, in addition to the significant amount of tax revenue it will create for the city. But perhaps equally as important is the shift in perception it could create for the oft-maligned "8 Mile," too long seen as a divider instead of a connector. In fact, Salisbury and her organization are trying to rebrand the area as "Uptown" to create a new identity for Eight Mile.
Source: Tami Salisbury, Executive Director of Eight Mile Boulevard Association
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Nicole Rupersburg is a former Detroiter now in Las Vegas who regularly writes about food, drink, and urban innovators. You can follow her on Instagram @eatsdrinksandleaves and Twitter @ruperstarski.