BY BRIAN RZEPPA
Retail on West Road is in the process of getting a major boost thanks to a new development now under construction in a spot formerly occupied by the long-vacant Belmar II Bowling Center near Manning Drive.
When completed later this year Trenton Crossings will offer a combination of retail, restaurant and self-storage space.
A representative of Mulberry Properties, the firm that has taken on the project, noted that the location in Trenton was a perfect one for the goals that they are looking to accomplish.
“We were seeking a site that would accommodate everything that we wanted to do with the project that we had envisioned,” said the representative, who did not want to be named. “We’re looking for a retail area up front with a self-storage area in the back and the West Road corridor was the perfect location for that.”
Along with the location being appealing for Mulberry Properties, City of Trenton officials were drawn in by their track record.
“What was really appealing to us is the people that are doing it are experienced Downriver developers,” said Trenton City Administrator Jim Wagner. “From a commercial standpoint, I know they have a major restaurant that people are going to like and a couple of other restaurants. They are a respectable group and they understand what is involved and what the community is looking for.”
For those that have become accustomed to the facility that was in place for decades previously, the new construction will be a big change of pace. By purchasing the property that extends all the way to Manning Street, Mulberry Properties will be able to revamp the area entirely.
“The retail area is all brick and stone and the shopping center as a whole will be made with high-quality materials and designed with high-quality architecture. There will be two separate buildings and there will be some outdoor seating around the retail area.”
While the new owners were interested in changing the look of the complex to suit their needs, they also wanted to keep some of the previous elements intact. Along with preserving some of the lanes from the bowling alley, they will incorporate parts of an airship that had been a part of Belmar since 1960.
“Just because of the some of the things that we had to go through on a construction standpoint, it was difficult to preserve some of the aspects that have been with the building since its original development,” the Mulberry representative said. “With that being said, we’re going to keep portions of the lane and portions of the hangers within our self-storage sales office as part of the ceilings or part of the countertops.”
With all of the work that has had to be done to get to this point and all that still has to be done, Mulberry Properties are happy with the progress that they have made and are on track to opening up to the public in the spring of this year as they had originally projected.
By staying on schedule and already having some businesses set up to be ready for the opening, they feel that they should be able to catch the interest of the community right away.
“We’ve started construction on the facility and considering that it’s Michigan and we need to think about weather impacts, but we’re looking for the spring of this year to open. We have some space, including a national pizza provider and a Middle Eastern restaurant that is leased already, and around 7,500 of the 11,500 square feet of retail space has already been leased.”
The Mulberry Properties official said that the City of Trenton has played a major role in how well things have gone to this point.
“The City of Trenton has been amazing and nothing but helpful and professional. We bought the building that is on the corner because we felt it was important to have full control of the site and the city was tremendous in helping to facilitate that. They have been fantastic to work with and I couldn’t speak highly enough about them.”
With the big plans that the group behind Trenton Crossings has, Wagner believes that this could continue the positive momentum that the city has going for it within the business community.
“We’re starting to get the overflow from Woodhaven, Allen Road and I-75 because we can offer lower per-square-footage costs to businesses, and people are starting to look at West Road and Trenton to bring their businesses and make money. A development like this enhances our appeal and shows what we can provide businesses.”