$350M Retail Site project comes to halt

PONTIAC, MI-It’s unclear what’s going to become now of the controversial Bloomfield Park project, which was to be a mixed-use setting with a $350-million lifestyle retail center, 60 condos and 150,000 square feet of office. Started with a border war between the city and neighboring Bloomfield Hills almost a decade ago, the project, at one time projected to be worth more than $1 billion, has been halted without much explanation.

A joint venture of Developers Diversified Realty and Coventry Real Estate Fund II were to build the retail for the first phase of the project, with Coventry providing 80% of the equity. About 20 tenants had been revealed for the lifestyle section, including Barnes & Noble, Ann Taylor Loft, Banana Republic, Bath & Body Works, Chico’s, Victoria Secret and restaurants such as Bravo! and Bar Louie.

However, DDR revealed Wednesday that the company was stopping construction. “Coventry has not committed to its funding requirements at this time,” a DDR spokesman tells GlobeSt.com. “We remain committed to the project, and we look forward to resuming in the near future. It’s not a result of a lack of funding on our end.” The planned tenants have been notified of the stoppage.

Officials with Coventry, which on its Web site claims Bloomfield Park has “attractive risk-adjusted returns,” “strong demographics” and strong “leasing momentum,” did not return calls for comment. Various differences abound between DDR’s description of the site and Coventry’s. For example, on its Web site for the project, Coventry describes Bloomfield Park’s retail portion as 700,000 square feet and costing $245.8 million, whereas DDR said in a statement that the project is 600,000 square feet and would cost $300 million. A DDR third quarter report shows the company expected to spend $189.8 million on the project, with $19 million coming from DDR. The spokesman refused to comment on Coventry’s participation. He says that other DDR projects are moving forward.

The spokesman says construction had started on the site; the venture broke ground in December 2006. However, even after a tense battle when Pontiac annexed the property to allow the project to continue a few years ago, and after a few announcements that the project had been pared down, there have been continuous questions over whether the site would ever see a finished project. Craig Schubiner with the Harbor Cos., who championed the project at its inception, is reportedly no longer with the project, and told GlobeSt.com Wednesday that he had no comment.

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