The city of Novi and a local developer have taken the first steps toward creating a mixed-use project with a focus on Asian culture.
City officials approved the sale of 10 acres of land to Sakura Novi, LLC, an affiliate of Birmingham-based Robert B. Aikens & Associates, for $3.15 million to develop a $50 million project that will include apartments and townhouses, a 25,000-square-foot Japanese and Korean market, a food hall with restaurants, entertainment venue, retail shops, services and a Japanese-style garden along a four-acre lake.
The property borders 11 Mile Road and Grand River Avenue and is east of Town Center Drive. The city also agreed to buy an adjacent one-acre parcel from Town Center and convey it to Sakura. If it can’t complete that step in the process within 90 days, Sakura has the option to back out of its agreement with Novi. Meanwhile, the developer also is negotiating with Ecco Tools for approximately two acres of land along 11 Mile.
The agreement with the city is contingent on Sakura creating a brownfield redevelopment plan for the county, to clean up contamination on some of the property that formerly housed a car wash and landscaping company.
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Scott Aikens, vice chairman of Robert B. Aikens & Associates, said his team is honored to be working with the city of Novi, Oakland County and One World Market, the grocery store that will anchor the retail center.
“I think Asian Village can become a distinctive regional attraction for Novi and all of Michigan,” Aikens told city officials. “We envision Asian Village to be a vibrant entertainment and residential hub. In addition, we envision Asian-style civic spaces and gardens, a range of best-in-class restaurants … a carefully curated collection of Asian-focused retail and lifestyle amenities, a karaoke bar or some other entertainment venue, perhaps even a small amount of office space.”
Novi has more than 3,000 Japanese residents and is home to the largest Japanese population in Michigan.
Sho Ueda, executive director of the Japanese Business Society of Detroit, said the project appears to be an asset to the area.
“I believe and hope that this project will contribute to further the development of Novi. My impression is it’s a good project,” he said. “The Asian Village will contribute to introducing Asian culture. The food culture is one of the most important … sushi, ramen and other Japanese food are getting to be popular among local communities.”
He said the village will draw a diverse population to experience and enjoy Asian culture and cuisine.
According to Aikens, the village may offer five or six full-service, best-in-class restaurants, serving Korean, Japanese, Chinese and Indian food.
Itaru Inoue, general manager of the Japanese School of Detroit, had not heard about the project, but said he liked the idea.
“I think even now there are many Japanese restaurants, Japanese grocery stores and book stores,” he said. “The city of Novi is very convenient for Japanese natives. If there is an Asian Village, a center for those cultural stores, that would be helpful.”
John Domino, a retail development consultant, has worked with One World Market for two years on plans for a superstore version of the Novi-based business.
“This new superstore concept will expand on our grocery selection, target the Japanese market plus other Asian food types and continue to build off the tremendous sushi business we currently have,” he told city officials. “The new store will have more seating and offer more eat-in opportunities and a greater diversity of prepared and takeout food options.
“We hope to attract a wider selection of people to the store and this will be the first store like it we’ve built. If anyone has been to Chicago and seen the Eataly concept, which is an Italian store focused on Italian cuisine, we hope to do the Japanese version of Eataly.”
Contact Sharon Dargay at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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