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Demolition of Kmart HQ remains a possibility for new development

Some concepts for any redevelopment of the former Kmart Corp. headquarters in Troy still involve tearing it down.

However, nothing is firmed up and any redevelopment of the existing 1.1 million-square-foot, long-vacant behemoth or new development on the 40 acres on which it sits are easily years out. In general, it’s been a high-octane recovery from an economic disaster in 2007-08 (and the years leading up to it in Michigan) and there hasn’t been anything tangible put into play for the site during that time.

“Concepts go through our mind, they come and go, and there’s not something that we have a definitive plan on at this point,” Nate Forbes, managing partner of Southfield-based Forbes Co., said during the last few minutes of a Tuesday afternoon interview about a new retail concept in downtown Detroit.

He owns both the vacant, gnarly Kmart property at 3100 W. Big Beaver Rd. at Coolidge Highway and its polar opposite — the posh, bustling Somerset Collection shopping center across the street that’s widely acknowledged as a paragon of mall success in an era in which they have been dying and, in some cases, demolished.

It’s been nearly a decade since Forbes Frankel Troy Ventures LLC paid a reported $17.5 million for the Kmart property in December 2009 in a defensive real estate move. Beyond occasional whispers, there hasn’t been much movement on repurposing it, although Forbes said three years ago that a master-planning process was underway.

He said Tuesday that whatever takes the place of the Kmart property has to be “representative of what the gateway to that whole (Big Beaver) corridor is all about.”

“Today that gateway is Somerset. So the old Kmart headquarters has to be something that is representative of what the corridor is today and what it needs to be in the future.”

After Kmart vacated the office complex in the mid-2000s and moved to Illinois as a subsidiary of Sears Holding Corp., continuing its well-documented implosion across state lines, the plan was for a $320 million redevelopment called the Pavilions of Troy. Reston, Va.-based Richardson Development Group Inc. was to be developer; New York City-based equity fund BlackRock Inc. owned the property at the time.

BlackRock paid $40 million for the Kmart property in December 2005, according to CoStar Group Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based real estate information service.

That project would have had 440,000 square feet of commercial and retail space, 132 residential units, a public ice rink, a 3,000-seat theater, restaurants and a grocery store. But under the weight of the economic recession, those plans collapsed.

Sidney Forbes, founder of Forbes Co., told Crain’s in 2012 that the purchase of the Kmart property “was a defensive move” after Farmington Hills-based Grand/Sakwa Development began courting Somerset Collection tenants for a retail development.

“So when we had the opportunity to buy that land, we took it,” Sidney Forbes said seven years ago.

Grand/Sakwa’s plans stalled at the Troy City Council and there has been little action on it since.

At its peak, the Kmart property accommodated 5,000 employees. When it was sold in 2005, it had fewer than 1,900, many of whom were transferred to Illinois.

Kmart has been closing stores in Michigan and elsewhere for years.


Posted By: Crain’s Detroit Business on September 18, 2019.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

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