Meijer Foods store

Meijer Foods, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has 10 stores in Wisconsin, with an 11th under development in Sheboygan. (Contributed photo/Regional News)

DELAVAN — A new player could be entering the Walworth County grocery shopping business, as Michigan-based Meijer Foods makes plans for a major new store.

Meijer Foods has approached NRB Land Development Group about building a 160,000-square-foot grocery store on the former site of the Geneva Lakes Kennel Club.

The estimated 200-acre development along Interstate 43 already includes a 200,000-square-foot Mills Fleet Farm outlet that is scheduled to open its doors next month.

NRB Land Development manager Andy Teegen said Meijer Foods would represent the second anchor of the development, with smaller tenants expected to join later.

“That’s the big piece,” Teegen said of the anchor stores.

Meijer Foods, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has 10 stores in Wisconsin, but none in Walworth County. The closest stores are in Kenosha, Rockford, Illinois, and Round Lake Beach, Illinois.

Meijer spokesman Frank Guglielmi said the company has the Delavan site under contract and is in the early stages of researching a possible store development there.

“There is still a lot of planning to do,” Guglielmi said.

The Delavan Plan Commission was scheduled Sept. 10 to consider the grocery store project, sending a recommendation to the City Council for final consideration on Sept. 19.

If the city approves, the grocery store could be under construction by next spring.

Mark Wendorf, the city’s public works director, said officials have found no objection to the Meijer Foods plan, and have been generally pleased with the NRB Development effort.

Wendorf said the development group has been “very organized” about the former Geneva Lakes Kennel Club site.

“They have a plan,” he said. “They have a vision.”

Located near I-43 and state Highway 50, the dog-racing track opened in 1990 and offered greyhound racing for spectators until 2005 when the track shut down.

NRB Land, of McHenry, Illinois, later acquired the 130-acre racetrack property and 70 adjacent acres through two affiliated corporations for a combined estimated $14 million.

The development group then won city support for a conceptual site plan that included a mix of retail and other commercial development, and commercial-residential components.

Teegen said the Meijer Foods store would occupy about 27 acres and would include grocery shopping, a pharmacy and a gas station. The store would likely attract shoppers from throughout Walworth County, Teegen said.

“They can pull from a pretty big area,” he said.

Founded more than 80 years ago in Greenville, Michigan, Meijer has grown to more than 200 stores in six states. In addition to 10 existing outlets in Wisconsin, the company is currently building its 11th in Sheboygan.

“Our stores have been received very well by customers in Wisconsin,” Guglielmi said.

Teegen said the Meijer development, as currently envisioned, would represent approximately a $30 million investment by the grocery store company in land acquisition and construction costs.

Located just east of Mills Fleet Farm, the grocery store would attract a different customer base than Mills Fleet Farm, Teegen said. The two stores would compliment each other and would combine to drive big crowds to the development, he said.

“They’re not competing head to head, so to speak,” he said. “They’re bringing in different segments of the market.”