The former Sears near Francois is being marketed to national restaurants, retailers

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.

The Sears water tower at the Francor Mall on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in Lansing.

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.

A conceptual rendering of what the former Sears property at 3131 E. Michigan Ave. could look like.  if it is planned to redevelop it as ROECO,

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.

A conceptual rendering of what the former Sears property at 3131 E. Michigan Ave. might look like.  if it is planned to redevelop it as ROECO,

“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.

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