Meijer targets five area communities for stores

Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retail chain Meijer Inc. has submitted plans for a 192,000-square-foot store in Franklin, and according to a commercial real estate source is also considering plans to build stores in Oak Creek, Grafton, Pewaukee and New Berlin.

Another Milwaukee commercial real estate source said Meijer is also looking for a 100-acre site in the Racine/Kenosha area to build a distribution center. Meijer has been looking for a year to a year and a half for an distribution center site and plans to make a decision in the next three to four months, the source said.

Meanwhile, the company is planning to build several stores in the region.

“My guess is they do four to five stores (in the Milwaukee area) in addition to Franklin,” one source said. “Typically they do four to five stores when they come into a market.”

In Franklin the company plans to build a store on a 29-acre site east of Loomis Road and Highway 100.

Meijer stores offer grocery and general merchandise. The company has about 200 stores, located in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.

Milwaukee-based Roundy’s Inc.’s dominance of the metro Milwaukee grocery market has made it attractive for other grocery store chains to come into the region in an attempt to grab market share, said David Livingston, a grocery industry consultant. Since Roundy’s is no longer a discount grocery store their dominance of the region makes it especially enticing to discount retailers like Walmart and Meijer, he said.

“I can definitely see (why Meijer) would have an interest up here,” Livingston said.

However, Livingston expressed skepticism about the Franklin site. Although Franklin is an affluent community, “you just don’t have the population density (near Highway 100 and Loomis Road),” he said. “Without the people you have a problem.”

If Meijer does indeed open 5-6 stores in the Milwaukee area, it will add more to the growing list of competitors that Roundy’s is facing as it tries to maintain its market share. The addition of Meijer stores could result in other stores in the region closing, Livingston said.

“I would say we are a little over-stored right now,” he said. “Some stores will have to close up. It’s a balancing act. Obviously the market can only handle so many square feet. If you have all of those stores coming into the market and not enough (population) growth, something’s got to give.”

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