New Jackson Co. Mall Moves Forward

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Sixty-eight acres of undeveloped land, steps from I-94 in Jackson County, are slated to become a new shopping center.

Blackman Township Supervisor Ray Snell envisions something like the Eastwood Towne Center.

"Upscale -- a little higher level than what we have here," Snell said.

Developers Ramco-Gershenson would pay $3.25 million for the land. The money would go to the airport, not to the county's general fund.

But before the plan can go forward, the city of Jackson has to give its ok. That's because the city used to own the land.

It was transferred in the 1970s to Jackson County as part of the airport land. That deal says the city of Jackson has to sign off if any of the land won't be used for the airport.

The city has been reluctant to do that.

"There are concerns of environmental issues," Jackson City Councilmember Dan Greer said.

That's because the airport sits on an old city landfill. And as the airport expands, some worried that contamination could spill into the development site.

But the city council signed off on the deal Tuesday night -- with conditions.

One of them: the county has to agree that the city can't be forced to pay for environmental cleanup on any airport land. And the county has to split the cost of some environmental testing at the site.

The other key contingency: if the developer backs out, the deal is off.

Those conditions have to be approved by the county board.

Councilmember Andrew Frounfelker calls the development a win for the whole county.

"The city will see some of that. We don't want to hinder development."

Greer points out that a number of those who would work at a new shopping center are city residents.

"Lord knows we need those jobs," he said.

Those jobs are now one step closer to Jackson County.

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