EAST LANSING, Mich. — Trader Joe's is coming to Meridian Township.
The Meridian Township Zoning Board of Appeals approved a zoning variance Wednesday night to allow for more parking at 5030 Northwind Dr. right off Grand River Avenue. The building will be Trader Joe's first mid-Michigan store.
"It's something that people in the community and Lansing broadly have wanted here for many years," Meridian Township Community Planing and Development Director Tim Schmitt said.
"We know this from the thousands of people who have written Trader Joe's and that's probably one of the reasons why they finally ended up coming to the marketplace here in the Lansing region," Meridan Township Board of Trustee Dan Opsommer said. "We do know that people have been driving to Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids to do shopping at Trader Joe's."
"It's certainly a regional draw, obviously by the number of people that have said they travel out of the area up to an hour to go to what is essentially a grocery store," Schmitt said.
The store will have 115 parking spaces, which is 49 more spots than the township ordinance originally allowed. Schmitt said this variance approval was unanimous.
"It's a pretty unique user that has pretty specific data that shows they need additional parking," Schmitt said.
But there are still some concerns.
"Certainly there's going to be more competition for grocers, not only in the immediate area," Opsommer said. "Foods for Living comes to mind for a lot of people. But, it's all really the same economic base for the grocers."
According to site plans, the building will be 13,500 square feet, with 11,970 square feet for the retail store and 1,530 square feet for a loading area.
"I expect they may start demolition in advance of construction," Schmitt said. "There's two buildings right now that would be removed...a Chinese restaurant, a spa, a light store and I believe a couple of other smaller tenants."
Opsommer said the building will go where Golden Wok is today.
Both Rachel Broderick of Trader Joe's and Bob Ford of Landscape Architects & Planners, Inc. said they weren't yet able to discuss any details.
"This is very early in the process," Schmitt said. "This is literally the first step."
Meridian Township Neighborhoods and Economic Development Director Amber Clark said it's much too early to say when they will actually break ground, much less open their doors. But, Opsommer said he could see them opening as soon as late 2022 or early 2023.
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