Supermarket chain Meijer still has not committed to a timeline for building a new store on land it owns in Delavan, but city officials believe the project is still on.
City Administrator Denise Pieroni said she has gotten no word that Meijer does not intend to build a new supercenter and possible retail developments on 27 acres of land next to Mills Fleet Farm off Highway 50.
Pieroni said Meijer officials told the city in spring that the company had opted to break ground on new stores in other locations and hold off on the Delavan project.
She said it’s possible the company could break ground by 2021, about two years prior to a hard deadline in a developer’s agreement between the city and Meijer.
Pieroni’s statements contradict recent social media rumors that Meijer is ditching plans it unveiled this year to build a 160,000-square-foot supermarket with a gas station/convenience store and options for future developments.
In a Nov. 5 post on the Facebook page “You know you’re from Delavan-Darien if …,” one person wondered if others had heard that Meijer plans to walk away from the Delavan project because company officials suspected other retailers were struggling.
The post sparked various responses by residents who had similar takes—speculating that Meijer had been unable to field a workforce because of a small local labor pool.
Pieroni said she has heard similar rumors, but she believes some residents might have missed a few key events that would dispel them.
“We’ve had a lot of rumors already saying they are not going to buy the property. But they’ve already bought the property. They’ve gotten all their (zoning) approvals,” she said.
Pieroni said Meijer originally suggested it would begin planning the project this year and break ground in 2020. But earlier this year, Meijer told the city it had decided to commit to other projects first.
“In our understanding, in spring, they review projects that would be under construction in 2020 and open in 2021, and Delavan was not selected,” Pieroni said. “But they said that next spring, that you know they will be reviewing it again. We hope that Delavan will be selected then.”
She said the city has had no indications that Meijer wouldn’t move forward since the company bought 27 acres last year in the Lakeside Center, a business park on the site of a former greyhound racetrack.
She believes the company will tell city officials in spring 2020 if the project is getting the green light.
If Meijer starts planning in 2020, Pieroni said groundbreaking likely would be a year away. That would put an opening date for the new store sometime in 2022.
A tax increment financing district that includes the site will be active until 2028, and the developer’s agreement stipulates only that the project break ground no later than 2023.