A Midwest-based specialty grocer wants to move into a vacant store Farmington, but if Fresh Thyme Farmers Market can’t find a home there, it will look elsewhere in the area, a leasing agent who wants to bring the store to the community said.
The store, which offers healthy, organic produce and other grocery and health items, is looking at a space next to the Tuesday Morning store in the Downtown Farmington Center, said Scott Tucker, Kimco Realty’s vice president for leasing, The Observer & Eccentric Reports.
Kimco owns that strip mall and two other buildings in business enter, located near Farmington Road and Grand River Avenue.
Chicago-based Fresh Thyme plans to open one other Michigan store, in Lansing, as well as stores in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin. Its aggressive buisness plan calls for opening 60 stores in five years, which it says will create 5,000 jobs.
If a deal can be reached in Farmington, the 28,000-square-foot building would be demolished because the aging building doesn’t fit Fresh Thyme’s needs, Tucker said.
He said it’s “potentially cheaper and more cost-effective to start over.” The new store would occupy the same space as the current building, but the store would need access to the city’s easement on the south end for deliveries.
Farmington City Council members had mixed reaction to the proposal. Officials like that a vacant retail space will be filled, but question whether it fits with the city’s Vision Plan.
“I’m a little disappointed with the rehashing of the ‘50s, ‘60s retail market...I’d really like to see us get away from the traditional strip mall in our downtown,” said Councilman Jeff Scott, who prefers a mixed-use multilevel development.
Mayor Pro-tem Steve Schneerman said he doesn’t think the proposed design is “particularly exciting or interesting,” and he’d rather see a plan that “really helps set it apart as something special.”
Councilman Greg Cowley disagreed, calling Fresh Thyme “a home run for the downtown,” but he wants assurance that the facility and available parking will meet the company’s needs.
“(Kimco is) spot-on with that tenant,” Cowley said. “I support that tenant greatly over others.”
Farmington Bill Galvin also supports the project. “We’re glad, we’re excited, we’re very pleased (Fresh Thyme) is looking in Farmington,” he said.
Discussion will continue. For the proposal to move forward, the city council will need to approve a Planned Use Development. But if Farmington turns it down, Fresh Thyme is likely to look elsewhere in the area, Tucker said.