By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TAYLOR – The passing of an era – and start of a new one – began last week that will forever alter the local landscape with the absence of the former Gibraltar Trade Center.
Demolition crews began on Wednesday tearing down the massive structure on Racho Road, the first of many steps that city officials said will initiate a new business outlook there and throughout the area.
“It’s not just limited to the Gibraltar building,” Mayor Rick Sollars said. “All of the structures on the 88-acre site will come down.”
Sollars said that within two weeks the majority of demolition work will be done, a razing anticipated since last year when property owners Jim and Bob Koester confirmed plans to sell the site and merge their weekend market operations into the remaining outlet in Mt. Clemens. The landmark trade center opened in Taylor in 1982 and held its final weekend of sales last fall.
Construction will begin next summer on a Menards store that will replace the 320,000-square-foot Gibraltar building with a department store anchor to a multi-faceted series of development projects, with retail operations expected to begin in 2017.
Although specific ancillary businesses have not been confirmed, Sollars said a number of projects are slated for both Racho Road and the Eureka corridor. The city has partnered with Menards to address traffic issues and next year will modify signals along the affected roadways. Resurfacing projects from Wayne County are also expected next year to include Eureka between Allen and Racho roads.
“We want to enhance the retail experience without becoming a congested nightmare,” Sollars said. Development that had been at a recession-hampered standstill, he said, is poised for considerable growth in the next few years.
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected].)