KALAMAZOO, MI – A Michigan-based developer plans to convert the Howard Street Harding’s Friendly Market into a multimillion-dollar commercial center, a local real estate professional says.
“It’s going to be exclusively commercial. No residential component that I’m aware of. Their vision is the redevelopment of central city Kalamazoo and they consider that area a main artery – at Crosstown (Parkway), Howard Street, Park Street and Westnedge (Avenue),” said Matt Callander, vice president of Callander Commercial, a Portage-based commercial real estate firm.
The company brokers deals for the sale and leasing of commercial and industrial real estate, and was the third-party broker in the sale of the Harding’s property to an owner who wants to remain anonymous until his plans are announced, Callander said.
Callander said he did not know how the property will be converted or what businesses may be brought in to reuse the 60,000-square-foot location at 412 Howard St., but he said, ” I can tell you that a Michigan-based developer has some big, exciting plans for it.”
“I don’t know if it will be three users or four users or 12,” he said, “but it’s going to be a multimillion-dollar investment. It’s really going to bring that property into the 21st century.”
The future of the property comes into question as Plainwell-based Harding’s Markets West announced Wednesday that it has sold the location and will close the supermarket there by the end of February.
Built in 1971, the store was a Jewel-Osco supermarket before it was acquired by Harding’s in 1996.
That sale results in the layoff of about 60 workers, some of whom said they knew for the past few weeks that a sale was pending.
Curt DeVries, director of office operations and marketing for Harding’s Markets West, said, “We are finding opportunities for them to apply at other Harding’s.”
But a worker at the store said that simply means he and his colleagues can apply for jobs like anyone else, and workers are saddened by the announcement.
Harding’s Market West owns nine other supermarkets in Southwest Michigan and Northern Indiana but only one other supermarket in Greater Kalamazoo. That is the Harding’s Friendly Market at 3199 S. 9th St. in Oshtemo Township. Other local Harding’s stores have other owners.
Callander said the new property owner plans to be a part of the redevelopment of the near southside of downtown Kalamazoo that will include Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s planned culinary school and health-focused campus.
“They think that with the culinary school and what’s happening to the east and the south (of the downtown), this is an important commercial element to the municipality,” he said.
He stopped short of saying that a new supermarket will be a part of the commercial mix, but said there will be “a commercial tenant that the community can be proud of.”
Park Street Market is staying put
The operators of the Park Street Market on Kalamazoo’s North Side said they are committed to being on the North Side of Kalamazoo and have no plans in regard to the Howard Street property.
Kiar Gamsho, director of the store, said last week there is no truth to talk that started a few weeks ago that Park Street Market is going to close and that he, his brothers and partners, planned to buy the Howard Street Harding’s.
“Park Street Market has committed — signed, sealed and delivered — on being a long-term tenant to our current location, 512 N. Park St.,” Gamsho stated in an email. “We have operated here for the past five years and have recently signed and extended a long-term lease as you wrote in an article last year.”
He said the business owners are in talks with the Northside Association for Community Development to occupy remaining space in the retail center that houses Park Street Market, “and to expand on some of our service operations.”