Mini-mall could lead to new ties between campus, community.
The number of residential housing units may stay the same this year, but list of things to do for campus residents is growing.
After three years of negotiation between SVSU, Kochville Township and a group of investors, plans to construct a building district on Pierce Road between the Cardinal Townhomes and 7-Eleven are officially under way.
While the space will serve both SVSU and the community, John Leuenberger, an investor in the project, said the development will be especially beneficial for students living on campus.
“All of the businesses will be within walking distance, alleviating road traffic and giving people the option to ride a bike or walk instead of having to drive,” Leuenberger said.
The buildings will be constructed in a model that could attract national tenants such as Starbucks or Panera Bread over time. For now, they will accommodate businesses including restaurants, hair salons and other local offices and services.
Kevin Shultz, director of alumni relations and former chairman of the Kochville Township Downtown Development Authority, said that the construction of this district is only one part of a bigger plan for the community.
“This development is part of the Kochville Downtown Development Authority’s ‘10 Smart Growth initiatives,’” Shultz said. “The township also has its own master plan, so the goal is to eventually incorporate the two together as a way to provide revenue for Kochville Township and benefit SVSU.
“The vision for the future is that students would eventually be able to walk across Pierce Road into a district that would take them all the way to Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart.”
Construction will occur in phases for two buildings. Work on the first building is slated to begin in August and be completed by the end of 2012. The first building will be 15,000 square feet and the second will be 23,000 square feet.
Jim Muladore, executive vice president for administration and business affairs, said the university is supportive of the development of the Pierce Road corridor.
“The university has been deeply involved in the Pierce Road construction project that is currently under way,” Muladore said. “The development of a business district around Pierce Road will increase services for both the university and community. “
Steve King, director of the Kochville Township Downtown Development Authority, said that the area surrounding SVSU is important.
“It was important that this property would meet the needs of the both township and the developers for years to come,” King said. “For the longest time there was nothing near SVSU, but now the township is looking to become more of a university district and SVSU is looking to become more of a dynamic university model as opposed to being known as a commuter school only.
“The corridor also will serve as a transitional area between the 55 mph speed limit on Bay Road and the new development for walking and slower forms of transportation.”
King said that this is the first phase in a series of changes that will occur during the next 10 years, at minimum.