GRAND RAPIDS -- Spartan Stores Inc. plans to spend $8 million to build a two-storyD&W Fresh Market, capping a stretch of new medical buildings
going up along part of Michigan Street known as the Medical Mile.
The 40,000-square-foot facility will replace the aging Duthler's Foods at Michigan and Fuller Avenue NE, which will relocate to Spartan's Family Fare
store at Madison Avenue and Hall Street SE.
quot;There is a tremendous need for an upscale store,quot; said Craig Sturken, chairman and chief executive officer of Spartan Stores. quot;We are going to have
thousands of people on Medical Mile who will want to live near where they work. We want to be there when it happens.quot;
The new store, which will be visible from Int. 196, will be the D&W Fresh Market flagship store.
Spartan, which has many of its stores in the suburbs, is being praised for investing in an urban location on the edge of the city's downtown.
quot;They say it's as close to a Whole Foods (Market) that you'll have for awhile,quot; Mayor George Heartwell said before the State of the City address he
was to deliver today at DeVos Place. Whole Foods is an upscale grocery chain found mainly in larger urban centers.
Press Photo/Rex LarsenThe Duthler Foods store on the Michigan Mile
at Michigan and Fuller streets in Grand Rapids will be torn down to make way for an upscale D&W Fresh Market.
quot;This will be a one-of-a-kind supermarket that will serve as the east anchor to the Medical Mile,quot; Heartwell said, referring to a stretch of Michigan
Street that is home to nearly $1 billionin medical research, training and treatment facilities.
Spartan says it does not plan to pursue tax breaks for its new store, but Heartwell said he would favor the Byron Township-based retailer Brownfield
redevelopment tax credits.
quot;They are doing this on their own. They feel very strongly they can make it go without incentives. If they can do it without (tax incentives), it makes it
much quicker and easier to do (the project),quot; said Birgit Klohs, president of The Right Place Inc., a regional development organization.
The Michigan Street location was Spartan's first choice, she added.
Meanwhile, Duthler's Family Foods -- an independent grocer supplied by Spartan's wholesale division -- will take over a supermarket at Madison
Avenue and Hall Street SE that changed hands several times before becoming a Family Fare.
David Duthler says moving his business a few miles away will be better for customers.
quot;We think it will be better for our existing customers and the existing Family Fare customers,quot; said Duthler, president of the four-store chain he owns
with his brothers, Tom and Jon, and brother-in-law Ian Smith.
Duthler's are neighborhood supermarkets providing fresh meat, produce and other services, including check cashing and money orders.
The brothers had expressed interest in the Family Fare location over the years, and discussions with Spartan got serious last year. Under the
agreement, Duthler will continue to own the Michigan and Fuller site, while subleasing the Madison and Hall location from Spartan.
It's unknown when the Duthler's and the Family Fare stores involved in the swap will close.
Pending approval from the city, Spartan plans to begin redeveloping the Michigan site -- which opened as a Meijer store in 1952 -- in the spring.
Construction is expected to take a year or longer.
Once open, the store will have some of the extras found in the Cascade D&W Fresh Market, the first fully remodeled store under the new brand, which
focuses on fresh produce. There may be a second-story cafe.
Expected to be a draw will be The store's perimeter will feature organic produce and fresh meats and seafood, a bakery, deli and ready-to-eat meals.
A second-floor cafe also is being considered. But the selection of household items will be limited compared to other D&W Fresh Market stores.
Residents of downtown lofts have expressed a desire for an upscale grocery store, said Rick Chapla, vice president of urban redevelopment for The