Meijer needs zoning change for new store

DANVILLE — The new retail development area on North Vermilion Street more than doubled in size Wednesday with the announcement that Meijer Inc. plans to build a store on a 23-acre site that will include a gas station-convenience store.

Plans for the 191,000-square-foot Meijer store were revealed Wednesday as part of the agenda for next week's meeting of the planning and zoning commission, which will consider a zoning change to accommodate the development.

The Midwest-based retailer has optioned property, which is owned by three separate parties, immediately south of the Kohl's development site at the intersection of Boiling Springs Road and North Vermilion Street, pending zoning approval and annexation. The eastern 12 acres of the site is not in the city, so an annexation request will be considered at the city council's next public works committee meeting on March 13.

The zoning commission will consider the petition to change the site from B2 Highway Business to B3 General Business and the farmland from agricultural to B3 General Business. The commission meets at 5:15 p.m. March 1 in the municipal building, 17 W. Main St., Danville. The zoning request and annexation request would then both be considered by the city council at its March 20 meeting.

The 23 acres includes an unoccupied house and the former Autotron building on North Vermilion Street, and the rest is farmland.

Meijer Inc.'s design firm, Woolpert Inc., is the official zoning petitioner along with the three property owners, the Danville Foundation for Industrial Growth; Deborah Klein Investments in Miami Beach, Fla.; and Stephanie Spiros, Jerry G. Walker Trust, Ellen M. Walker Trust and Jeremy G. Walker.

According to petition documents, the 24-hour Meijer store would combine a full grocery, a drive-through pharmacy and a department store. Meijer Inc. is a privately-owned regional supercenter chain based in Grand Rapids, Mich., that was founded in 1934 as a supermarket chain. The company operates about 200 stores in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Illinois, including one in Champaign and one in Urbana.

The Meijer site will be owned and developed by Meijer Inc. and is not being developed in conjunction with Continental, the Milwaukee-area firm that's developing the Kohl's store along with a yet-undisclosed junior anchor.

Mayor Scott Eisenhauer said Continental has a retailer for the junior anchor spot on its site, to be announced in the first two weeks of March.

Eisenhauer said it's been a long process to get the project to this point, because of the due diligence required and the effort necessary to coordinate this new development with the Kohl's site and the Tractor Supply store.

The Meijer site will be immediately south of the Kohl's complex and will be accessible from the stoplight entrance at North Vermilion Street and Boiling Springs Road, according to the site plan. The other main entrance will be the current entry to the Tractor Supply store, which will be immediately south of the Meijer development.

Eisenhauer said the Tractor Supply entrance was designed for multi-property use.

According to city zoning administrators, this proposed development fits with the city's comprehensive plan, which viewed the area as appropriate for a large regional scale development due to the stop light and location along North Vermilion Street. Lowe's Home Improvement is directly across North Vermilion Street.

Eisenhauer said city officials are extremely excited about this development.

"We know that this is one of those retailers that individuals in our community and county have requested," said Eisenhauer, who added that Meijer Inc. has not asked for a sales tax agreement with the city, and the city has no financial obligation in the project.

He said the city may have a role in some traffic movement changes that may be necessary on North Vermilion Street in that area. He said there will be an analysis of traffic movement, and the city would also be involved in extending city services to the entire site.

According to site plans, the Meijer gas station and convenience store will sit toward the front of the site closest to Vermilion Street, and the Meijer store will sit at the back of the site with a 634-space parking lot between them. The south end of the Meijer store and property will wrap behind the Tractor Supply building.

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