FLINT TWP, MI — The former Toys ‘R’ Us store in Flint Township is growing up.
Ashley Furniture HomeStore will move in after the South Linden Road retail toy store location closed in mid-2018 when the company shut down stores across the country.
Tracey Tucker, the township’s economic enhancement director, said building permits have already been acquired by Ashley for the 44,000 square-foot building.
“They are working in there right now,” she said.
Tucker said the township is working at “placing our self in a good position and opening ourselves up for development.”
She noted national chains have come and gone from the area, but the township has been able to maintain economic stability due to a diverse business district that includes office spaces, restaurants, shopping, as well as industrial areas.
Lansing-based Peckham Inc. was recently approved for a roughly 40,000 square-foot facility in the former Furniture Row building on South Linden Road, while Planet 3 Xtreme Park opened in mid-2018 inside the former Great Lakes Power Sports on Miller Road.
“Obviously the elephant in the room is the Sears store,” said Tucker. “We hate to see them go, obviously. We have seen others come in and take their place.”
Part of the process is putting the community out there “in a positive way to attract investors and developers,” she added.
The process has also include the formation of a Downtown Development Authority and the Beecher Road and Bristol Road Corridor Improvement authorities to try and spark additional development.
Establishment of the authorities allows for the capture of some property tax increases in the districts over a period of 30 years — not via a millage — to be used for infrastructure and streetscape improvements and construction or renovation of properties.
Tucker said the first capture will take place this year, but some work that’s already taken place includes ramp cleanups, wildflower planting and some street sweeping.
An economic development plan that includes marketing and branding is also being formulated via a $20,000 Michigan Economic Development Corporation grant.
A website entitled Discover Flint Township has also been launched, with Tucker noting it’s aimed at site builders and investors with information on available properties.
“While you may think your community is the greatest thing since sliced bread, you have to have the information out there,” she said.