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Countdown to demolition day

Becky Vargo • Mar 31, 2018 at 11:00 AM

In the calm before the storm of next week’s scheduled demolition, it’s business as usual for Z-Tire, the final moving day for Once & Again, and waiting for court decisions for Lakeshore Auto, which is still in the process of trying to finalize a new location.

The businesses are all in an area south of Robbins Road and between U.S. 31 and 172nd Avenue, which is slated for redevelopment.

A new, 15,000-square-foot retail building, called Robbins Centre Pointe, will include a new Pizza Hut restaurant. Additional phases could include a big box retailer, an automotive-related retailer, a multi-tenant retail building and another restaurant.

Bob Schalk, owner of Lakeshore Auto Supply, the only business still operating in the strip mall at the front of the 7-acre property, said he’s still trying to finalize plans for a new location for his store.

“In this town, it’s hard to find anything,” he said. “Even the smaller spaces are so expensive.”

Everything is still on the shelves in the store that has occupied the Robbins Road location for the past 23 years. Schalk said he has been in business in Grand Haven for 28 years. 

Nothing has been packed because they are hoping to finalize an agreement to get into a building near the intersection of Beechtree Street and Robbins Road. Schalk said they hope to move from one location to another without any down time, but the pending demolition has them nervous.

Schalk said they were notified in October 2017 that they had to be out by the end of March. He has obtained the services of an attorney to help keep his business open in the current location until he can move into a new one.

The notification letter all of the merchants received was dated Oct. 25, 2017. The letter addressed to Schalk, as obtained from court records, sets a March 31, 2018, date for lease termination.

“You are welcome to stay right up until March 31 or exit as soon as you find replacement space in another center, whichever works best for you,” the letter states.

Attorney Ross Reuterdahl filed a complaint in Ottawa County Circuit Court on Wednesday, asking for a court order to stop any work being done where the Lakeshore Auto business is located. The complaint alleges that a developer’s agent visited the business on Tuesday and advised that, “All the utilities to the building would be cut on Monday, whether or not Lakeshore was still in possession and occupying the property.”

Bill Bowling, who is partnering in the development with Robbins Road Real Estate, said officials have been in constant contact with Schalk, making sure he knew he had to be out of the building. Bowling said it was a surprise to find that Schalk had not started packing up his store to move.

The developer said he understood that things are pretty tight in the Grand Haven area.

“That’s why we’re building,” Bowling noted.

But tight time lines and Schalk still being in the building are a problem, Bowling said. 

“We’re trying to be good landlords, but we’ve got a deadline to meet,” he said.

Bowling said they are under contract to have Pizza Hut in a new building by Jan. 1, 2019, or face large financial penalties.

Developers are already working with Z-Tire owner John Helder, who will be moving his business to a building under construction at Hayes Street and 172nd Avenue, across from the new Speedway gas station. Bowling said there have been construction delays and they have been working with Helder to keep him on site longer because of that. It’s also possible because that building is not in the way of the first phase of construction for the Robbins Centre Point project.

But the building Lakeshore Auto is in has to come down for the first phase, Bowling said.

The developer’s plans call for utility workers to be on site Monday and demolition to start Tuesday or Wednesday.

Bowling said a court hearing regarding the Lakeshore Auto situation is now scheduled for April 9. That will hold things up for that part of the project.

Z-Tire

Meanwhile, Helder said he is excited about the move to the new location. He just wanted to make sure that his customers know Z-Tire will remain open during construction.

“There will be a road maintained at all times to the business,” Helder said. “The location could change — just watch for the signs.”

Helder said he would also post updates on the store’s Facebook page.

Z-Tire has been in business in Grand Haven for 35 years and at the Robbins Road location for the past 32 years. Helder said he’s owned it for 12 years.

Once & Again

A volunteer crew pulled the last pieces off the walls and put the last items in the trailer as they moved the Once & Again resale store out of their location, north of Z-Tire.

Manager Rhonda Thom said the store has been at this location for 12 years. It closed in mid-March in order for them to clean out the building. A new store is expected to open at 1209 Jackson St., east of Rycenga Lumber, in June.

Proceeds from the store are used to help offset tuition costs at Grand Haven Christian School.

Once & Again was called Nearly New when it operated at the location of The Bookman in Grand Haven’s Centertown district. The store moved to a Seventh Street location before moving to Robbins Road, where it added furniture to its “lightly used goods” inventory, said volunteer Fred VandenBrand.

VandenBrand said the new property owners were fair and gave them plenty of notification, although he did admit finding a new location was difficult.

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