New Kroger means business in Sterling Heights

Sterling Heights resident Sandrella Rayes sees first-hand what business growth means to her city.

Sterling Heights resident Sandrella Rayes is looking forward to a new Kroger store opening across from her workplace this year.

Kroger Co. has purchased, and begun building on, the former Kmart site at 18 Mile and Dequindre Rd as part of a larger $97 million statewide investment in its stores. The new Sterling Heights facility is set to open late this year will include a Kroger Marketplace offering kitchenware, baby items and toys, clothing, wine and beer, and other products beyond its grocery selection.

“It’s going to be a super Kroger, so that’s something to look forward to,” Rayes says. “When K-mart was here it wasn’t that busy, hopefully this will be more revenue.”

Kroger Co. corporate affairs manager Rachel Hurst says the company is thrilled with the location choice, and that they were attracted by the growing business potential in the city.

“We know that Sterling Heights is thriving and we want to continue to be a part of its growth,” Hurst says.

Construction workers have broken ground at the site at Windmill Plaza and the 124,000-square-foot building will employ approximately 300 workers once it opens its doors. The current Kroger store at 18 Mile and Dequindre Rd, which employs up to 70 staff, will close and a "significant amount of employees" will relocate to the new premises, according to the company.

But the new store is just the tip of the iceberg for the city, says Sterling Heights senior economic development adviser Luke Bonner. A new Edge Fitness Club is under construction on the east side of the same plaza as Kroger’s site, and the city has approved a new 37,000-square-foot LA Fitness gym on Van Dyke Ave, north of 16 Mile Rd.

Southfield-based chain Wing Snob plans to open a flagship store on Van Dyke Ave this month and companies such as Mitchell Plastics, BAE Systems, Christian Financial Credit Union and BJ’s Brewhouse have also recently chosen to invest in the city. Michigan’s first Chipotle Mexican Grill, a Californian-based chain, opened a Van Dyke Ave drive-thru in May.

Senior economic development adviser Luke Bonner has seen Sterling Heights grow over the past 10 years.“Sterling Heights is a very secure investment,” says Bonner. “The demographics and easy access to a larger market make it a very desirable location.”

A new Chipotle drive thru has opened in Sterling Heights.Chipotle’s chief corporate reputation officer Laurie Schalow says being able to build local partnerships is one of the reasons the city is a great fit for them. “The Sterling Heights restaurant will open us up to a new community,” she says.

Bonner says he’s been impressed with the changes in the city over the last ten years, and the comeback it’s made after the financial crisis. “Sterling Heights exploded out of the downturn, in all aspects of the economy, residential, retail, and manufacturing.”

Rayes agrees. “It’s a very happening place,” she says. “I see it growing, getting stronger, and a lot more people moving out here.”

The potential upswing comes at a good time for the city, with other department stores in the city struggling to compete with online shopping trends. Along with Kmart closing, Sears closed last year at Lakeside Mall, and Target have announced they will close their Van Dyke Ave store later this year. But plans for reshaping Lakeside Mall and investments like Kroger’s has city officials hopeful for the future.

For cities like this one, business investments have an obvious ripple effect. Companies like Kroger Co. don’t just offer services and generate employment, but they can also connect with local groups and charities to build the community.

Hurst says the Sterling Heights store will partner with food banks such as Gleaners Community Food Bank and Forgotten Harvest to donate unused food.

“We are going to focus local efforts on fighting hunger right in our neighborhoods,” she says.

The new Kroger store in Sterling Heights will employ approximately 300 workers once it opens its doors.

This focus is part of the Michigan chain’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste campaign, which was launched in 2017 and saw the company listed last year as one of Fortune magazine’s top companies changing the world.

"Zero Hunger | Zero Waste is shaping the national discussion around how to end hunger and eliminate waste across America," says Jessica Adelman, Kroger's group vice president of corporate affairs. "At Kroger, we are intently focused on using our scale for good and we encourage our customers, associates and other businesses to join us."

*This story was updated August 14, 2019.
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Kate Roff is an award-winning freelance writer and journalism educator, currently based out of Detroit. She is the managing editor of Metromode and Model D. Contact her at