The buildings that once housed Kmart, JCPenney, and Farm King sit vacant on the city's east side, though the mayor said it's not from a lack of trying.
“We encourage people to remain positive. We are doing everything we can to keep those buildings up on the radar of potential developers locally, regionally, as well as nationally,” said Mayor Mike Inman.
He also urged people to remain patient. He noted it took more than three years from the city’s first conversations with McAlister’s Deli to the time the restaurant opened its doors in Macomb.
Inman said city leaders work with the Macomb Area Economic Development Corporation (MAEDCO), traveling throughout the region and the nation to promote Macomb and the retail spaces that are available.
“It’s often about having as many fishing lines in the pond as you can to catch as many fish as you can, knowing that a couple of times you’re going to come up with an empty hook,” the mayor said.
A fourth space will soon become empty when CVS moves out of its store that’s in the same shopping plaza as the former Kmart building. However, CVS is not leaving the city – it is building a new store at the corner of Dudley and East Jackson Streets, just off the historic courthouse square.
And right across Dudley Street from the new CVS store, Niemann Foods has demolished the former County Market grocery store. Niemann plans to construct a new building that will house Haymakers, which is a gas station and upscale convenience store. The site will also have a pet supply store and a laundromat.
The city is also excited about the outcome of its Downtown Retail Business Competition. City Administrator Dean Torreson said he attended the event at The Forum when eight aspiring entrepreneurs pitched their business proposals to a panel of five judges as a full house looked on.
“The enthusiasm from that crowd was overwhelming. It was just great to see the amount of optimism about this community they showed that night,” said Torreson.
The microbrewery Forgottonia Brewing won the competition. But Downtown Development Director Kristin Terry said the city might see other businesses as a result of the competition. She said she’s still working with four of the runners-up:
- Bird Bites Bakery and Gifts: A bakery offering homemade specialties in bite-sized portions
- Cookie Frenzy Bakery: A bakery café specializing in gourmet cookies
- The Crafty Coop: A craft studio where you can paint your own pottery
- The Macomb Dining Company: A high-quality restaurant serving lemon chicken pasta, chargrilled steaks, and much more
Terry said Macomb got the idea for the competition from Monmouth. She said the event generated so much publicity that representatives from Canton, Jacksonville, and Carbondale have contacted her office to learn more about it.
TSPR’s Emily Boyer contributed to this story