LANSING — Two years after Sears closed its store on East Michigan Avenue near the Frandor Mall, the property owner has begun working with a commercial real estate agency to market the site for “hundreds of national retailers and restaurants,” it said. Pat Gillespie, president of The Gillespie Group.
The Lansing-based developer wants to redevelop the nearly 200,000-square-foot building as ROECO, “a mixed-use regional entertainment destination,” according to a news release.
CBRE is actively marketing the property, Gillespie said.
The move comes more than a year after the company hired Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm Streetsense to study the area’s demographics and complete a market analysis of what would succeed there.
The Gillespie Group bought the property at 3131 E. Michigan Ave 13 years ago.
Sparrow Health System in May 2020 opened a coronavirus testing site inside a portion of the building that is still operational. The hospital leases space from The Gillespie Group.
The 14-acre property is mostly vacant but full of potential, Gillespie said.
Area residents have said they want to see “good dining options” and retail there, he said, and experts agree the community would support both.
“Now that we’ve heard we’ve put a plan together to take it to these retailers and restaurants … and to say, if we bring this, is this somewhere you would find it?” Gillespie said. “If they say yes, which we hope they will, we can go into it. We’re looking for some of the national prospects that are out there in the bigger cities from an entertainment standpoint.”
Calling concept for restaurants, retail
Sears occupied the space for more than six decades after moving from a downtown Lansing location in the fall of 1954. It was a Greater Lansing location for 66 years before closing in 2020. Last summer Gillespie said the redevelopment of the property could cost anywhere from $60 to $190 million.
Conceptual renderings of what ROECO could look like if realized show a redeveloped building housing a rooftop dining restaurant and retail shops.
Listings are being shared with national companies The Gillespie Group is marketing the property to, said Megan Weber, the company’s real estate coordinator.
“Our goal is to keep the existing building,” Weber said, but the company is exploring what interest it has from national companies. “Nothing is set in stone that this will happen in a certain time frame.”
If the company can secure tenants, concept plans call for demolishing about 15,000 square feet of the existing building mostly on the East Michigan Avenue side, Gillespie said, and adding square footage to the existing structure as well.
“We would like to see some commitments in the next six months,” he said.
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Drawing in users
The timeline and look of the building’s redevelopment could vary depending on its occupants, said Ashley Brzezinski, director of marketing for the Gillespie Group.
The hope Gillespie’s company has for the former Sears building is not unreasonable, he said.
“People want to have fun and they want to have unique places to do it,” Gillespie said.
Signs on the building since last year advertising its availability have drawn initial interest, he said, and the pursuit of national companies is the next step.
“We’ve had a lot of preliminary interest before we hit the market,” Gillespie said. “The goal is to make a great marketing package and put together the right plans from professionals in a great location and attract them.”
Contact Rachel Greco at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @GrecoatLSJ .