LANSING, Mich. — The Gillespie Group is at it again, this time on Lansing's east side. President and CEO Pat Gillespie plans to spend tens of millions of dollars to transform the vacant site at 3131 east Michigan Ave.—where the former Sears, Roebuck and Co. flourished for 66 years—into what will be called ROECO, a hotspot for entertainment.
The vacant 14-acre, 200,000-square-foot site will soon be packed with anywhere from 15 to 20 businesses and restaurants.
"Everyone's telling us they want entertainment, they want more restaurant options, they want more bar options and they want some higher-end retail," Gillespie said. "So, we're taking this to the marketplace this week. When I say marketplace, we're going all over the country talking to the best retailers, the ones that we think will fit here, the ones that came back in the study, the ones that we've heard from the people in the area, of what they'd love to see here."
Gillespie Group has owned the building for 15 years, and it has been vacant for three, apart from Sparrow Health System's COVID-testing and mobile medicine site.
"Since 1954, Sears was here, and Sears was the retailer—everything from hardware to paint, clothes, candy, automotive parts," Gillespie said. "Sears had some financial troubles nationwide, so they're pretty much out of business around the country."
Gillespie said the name of the development is a nod to its predecessor, "playing off the Roebuck name."
"Seeing this ROECO proposal, with all these restaurants and retail and shops, and the restructuring of the building is going to activate the corridor," Lansing Mayor Andy Schor said. "It's a tremendously important area of the city."
"It's right on Michigan Avenue, down the road from campus, on the highway," Gillespie added.
The timeline of the project is subject to change as Gillespie Group finds partners, but Gillespie said that, optimistically, the group will receive letters of intent in the next six months, have a site plan developed in 2023 and start construction in early 2024.
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