Two developers continue racing to build the first new grocery store in Cass City — and both plan to open for business in 2017.
On Monday, developer Mark Molter sprinted to the lead after an artist’s rendering and more details were revealed to village council about the planned $4 million Cass City Market.
Not to be outdone, Jim Zyrowski of Ben’s Supermarket told The Advertiser on Tuesday that construction could begin as soon as this fall on a new $6 million Ben’s Supermarket in Cass City – and also plans to open next year.
“I think it would’ve been a godsend if they would have been here a year earlier,” said Cass City Village Council member Nancy Barrios. “Whatever these people are willing to bring here, I’m grateful. “I think it would be a boost for our community as well.
You’ve got to have a grocery store. It’s a fundamental need.”
Cass City Village Council was presented with a proposed exterior image of Cass City Market, which will be built at sites east of the village municipal building — the former Fairway Discount Stores, Rotary Park and Cass City Antique Mall.
“It will definitely change Main Street,” said Vicky Sherry, communications director of Tuscola County Economic Development Corporation while presenting the store at the meeting.
The concept design developed by Sussex, Wisconsin-based Mehmert Stores Services showed an approximate 21,000 – square-foot grocery store, called Cass City Market, with a Main Street opening and another on Oak Street. The image was accompanied with a virtual presentation, which showed the idea of the store with a bakery, deli, fruit and meat departments. It will have a “hometown feel,” according to Sherry, with wide aisles.
The proposed image is similar to a layout of another Mehmert grocery store, said Sherry.
Texas store owner Mark Molter is the developer, but did not attend the meeting because he was preparing a new owner for a business he sold in Texas.
“That’s one of the reasons why he couldn’t be here now because it takes up most of his time,” said Sherry.
Molter is hoping to begin construction in April 2017, with plans to open just before Thanksgiving 2017, she added.
“He’s on track,” said Village Manager Peter Cristiano.
The cost to build Cass City Market is projected to be more than $4 million, and the finished product would bring 28 to 35 new full-time jobs to the area.
Cristiano mentioned some residents’ concerns over where the antique mall, 6544 Main St., would be moved once construction begins for the grocery store.
“Part of our obligation…is finding the appropriate location, and without any impediment, make sure to give them the space they need,” Cristiano said.
He added that the Rotary Club of Cass City is looking for alternatives to move the antique mall.
Jim Zyrowski, owner of Ben’s Supercenters in Marlette and Brown City, has set a price tag of about $6 million for the company’s new Cass City location.
“We’re moving forward; we’ve got plans…” Zyrowski told The Advertiser on Tuesday.
The Cass City Ben’s Supermarket would be along M-81 on the western edge of Cass City, adjacent to Dollar General.
Zyrowski said the company is working with Frankenmuth Credit Union, the current landowner, to acquire the land.
He added as building plans have changed, the square footage of the store has, too, but the cost of the potential grocery store is still $6 million. It would feature a full-service grocery store offering banking, deli, bakery and meat departments.
Construction would not begin until spring of 2017, but if weather permits, Zyrowski said, construction might begin this fall at the site to prepare the building and parking lot.
Similar to his other stores, Zyrowski said it will employ approximately 100 people. He said he is not fazed by the competition.
“Competition is nothing new to us,” he added. “We’ve faced competition all the time. We have the sources and resources to serve the community better.
“We’re the local guys and we’ve been serving the community for a long time. We understand the community needs and the jobs of the community, and serve the culture in which we live.”
Cass City has been without a grocery store for several years. Erla’s Food Center & Packing Inc., along Church Street, had been the lone market in the village. The building is currently vacant.
At least one resident is keeping excitement in check, especially about Cass City Market.
Clarence Schneeberger, owner of Schneeberger’s Carpet, Furniture & Appliance, 6588 Main St., Cass City, said, “I don’t think they’re coming,” he said of Molter.
Schneeberger said he went to several council meetings but nothing was accomplished.
“I’d like a grocery store in Cass City,” he added. “We’re supposed to eat fruit and vegetables but we don’t have a place to buy them.”
He said he doesn’t think the property next to Cass City Municipal Building is able to have a grocery store. A more feasible location is adjacent to Dollar General, where Ben’s Supermarket will be constructed.
“We’re lucky we get one,” he said. “I don’t think that fellow from Texas is financially stable. Business is very hard to run; very hard to manage. You’re up against a lot of competition.”
Debanina Seaton is a reporter for The Advertiser and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org