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Mum’s the Word on New Remington Development

January 8, 2010

The community has no comment. This was the message—at least for reporters—at a Thursday, Jan. 7 meeting of the Greater Remington Improvement Association on a big-box retail development proposed at 25th and Howard streets. Developer Rick Walker, CEO of Detroit-based Walker Developments Inc., wants to erect a $65 million shopping and housing complex in lower Remington, including a Lowe’s home-improvement store, a grocery store, and several other shops, like, possibly, Anna’s Linens. Walker formed a partnership with locally based developer Lawrence Cager to form WV Urban Developments, which would back the project. The development would occupy 11 acres, including the grounds of what is now Anderson Automotive.

The meeting was the Greater Remington Improvement Association’s first without the presence of the developer, who hopes to break ground this fall. But after preliminary discussion on the nuts and bolts of the project, reporters were asked to leave. Eric Imhof, the group’s president, said that he wanted residents to feel they could speak freely, without fear of being quoted. In a follow-up e-mail, he elaborated, explaining that “it would compromise our position as a community group if any detailed information about any plans we developed were revealed too soon.”

Another reason the association is playing it close to the vest might be that there’s some sharp disagreement among its members. Some would like to shut down the project altogether, citing the effect a megastore like Lowe’s could have on locally owned businesses. Others are happy about the prospect of a shopping center, hoping it will create jobs and change the industrial flavor of the area.

Detractors and supporters alike seem to agree on one thing, however: Traffic could be a problem. The shopping center would draw a torrent of delivery trucks and shoppers hungry for lumber and linens to an area crisscrossed by skinny residential streets.

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