Retail vacancies linger for Burton and Flint

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BURTON (WJRT) - (8/15/19) - Today, a brand new T.J. Maxx opened up in Fenton, featuring 22,000 square feet of discounted fashion, accessories, home decor and more.

This comes as the TJ Maxx near Center and Lapeer roads in Flint closed its doors, leaving yet another vacant space in what used to be one of the busiest parts of Mid-Michigan.

Even though hundreds of millions of dollars have poured into Flint and surrounding communities, there are still plenty of empty buildings looking to be repurposed.

Burton Mayor Paula Zelenko said the retail sector has faced challenges recently, leading some of the stores to close.

"Retail business like Lowes and like the Courtland Mall that there a little difficult, more difficult because they rely on the demographics and the economics of certain areas, if either they support them enough or don't support them enough," Zelenko said.

Now, it's not all bad news. New businesses in Burton include the recent opening of the GM Parts Processing Center and a new StarLite diner.

Yet, three big holes need to be filled in Burton -- the former VG's, Lowes, and Walli's Restaurant. Flint's once-flourishing strip mall at Lapeer and Center roads could also use some new tenants -- as well as Courtland Center Mall.

So what do shoppers want to see?

"Costco would be great. I'd like to see maybe an entertainment center, would be great. Something lively, something that will bring people to the area," said Genesee Township resident Fernando Amaya.

Despite the on-again off-again rumors of a Costco coming to the former Lowe's site on Court Street, the retail giant hasn't reached out to Burton officials.

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