News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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October 25, 2013

Big box retailer Meijer has site near airport under contract

TERRE HAUTE — Meijer is taking steps to locate a store on Terre Haute’s east side, at the northeast corner of New Margaret Drive and Indiana 46/U.S. 40, a Meijer spokesman said Thursday.

“I can confirm we do have a site under contract,” said Frank Guglielmi, Meijer spokesman. “We are interested in Terre Haute.”

Meijer is a regional supercenter chain headquartered in Grand Rapids, Mich. It has more than 200 stores, with more than half in Michigan. It has more than 20 stores in Indiana, including two that opened this year in Warsaw and Portage.

The supercenters combine groceries and department store goods in the same facility.  A full-size supercenter has about 190,000 square feet.

On Nov. 6, the Area Plan Commission will consider a rezoning for a small portion of the property a Meijer would occupy. It also will consider a subdivision application

The rezoning, from open space (O-1) to a commercial zoning (C-3), also would have to be approved by the Terre Haute City Council.

Meijer is now doing site planning and “due diligence,” which involves working with governmental agencies, Guglielmi said. “We’re working to see if we can make a store happen.”

Once that is done, “We purchase property, and normally once we purchase property, we begin building a store,” he said.

He did not have a timeline as to when that could happen in Terre Haute. Typically, groundbreakings occur in spring or summer.

“The earliest we would start construction would be 2014,” Guglielmi said, and construction takes about a year. “We’re very interested in the community. Indiana is an important state for us.”

Meijer is a privately held, family-owned company, he said. “We’re a very strong believer in philanthropic support to local communities.”

Meijer donates more than 6 percent of net profit back to communities where its stores are located, he said.  

Greg Gibson, who owns most of the property Meijer would purchase and is working to secure the rest, said he’s been working with the regional chain for eight to 10 months. “We’ve put together a purchase agreement,” he said.

He emphasized it’s not yet a done deal.

But if it happens, and Meijer builds at the site, “I really think it will be a breakover project on the eastside,” Gibson said. Two big box stores there, including Walmart, will help draw other development, he said.

The airport, redevelopment and city have worked together to provide infrastructure to the area, he said. “This wouldn’t have happened if not for the things they’ve done.”  

Gibson owns 20 acres off Indiana 46 and has an option to secure an additional seven acres of farmland that Meijer would need for stormwater retention.

Gibson said he’s optimistic about a Meijer store locating on the eastside. “I don’t think they would push so quickly to jump government hoops if they didn’t have an intent on building,” he said.

He recently had two other business call him about locating in the area. A new Meijer store “will bring a lot of interest and it will be a great addition to the community.”

Once the 641 bypass is completed, “It all points to that area being the growth area for Terre Haute,” Gibson said.

Darren Maher, acting director of the area planning department, said that having another major anchor store such as Meijer would help spur more development in that area.

On Nov. 6, the Area Plan Commission will consider both the subdivision application and rezoning.

The rezoning request will then be brought before the City Council in a special call meeting at 5:55 p.m. Nov. 14. The council could then vote on it that night during its 6 p.m. regular meeting. The council's November sunshine meeting was previously canceled.

The goal, if everything goes smoothly, “is to have everything ready to where Meijer could start building a store” early next year, if it chose, Maher said.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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