By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
BENTON TOWNSHIP — Changes are coming to the Orchards Park Shopping Center in Benton Township.
After weeks of ongoing construction and what began as tree removal a year ago to the property on the northwest corner of Fairplain Drive and Mall Place intersection, the shopping center’s owner announced he is planning an expansion.
In addition to a building expansion to the current storefronts and parking lot, there will be a new building on the west side of the property. Basel Aqel, owner and developer of the property, said the new building would be connected through the expanded parking lot.
The shopping center already has 10 spots for businesses, but Aqel said the expansion is expected to make way for six more potential stores. By the end of the expansion, there will be about 200 parking spaces.
“As we progress, we will expand the parking lot too,” Aqel said. “We understand the need for parking spaces right now. That’s why we went over the minimum requirements because of the traffic that the (Secretary of State’s) office and Wings Etc. brings in.”
Mike Nagelkirk, a commercial real estate agent who has worked with Aqel since selling him the property at 1960 Mall Place, said the current shopping center is about 22,000 square feet.
The expansion would add another 11,200 square feet.
Nagelkirk said there is capacity to grow the shopping center to 50,000 square feet. However, Aqel said, they are expanding to a total listing of 33,000 square feet to see how things go.
“It’s been a nice spot, a nice market around here,” Aqel said. “I’ve been around here for about 16 years. I originally owned the Sprint shop down here. The community has been great to us. I would not want to go anywhere else.”
While the ground has been broken, Aqel said he hopes to have the storefronts ready for potential businesses by the summer or fall of 2017.
“We have been getting a few calls from prospective tenants, so we have interest,” Aqel said.
With the exception of one vacant storefront, the shopping center is home to the Secretary of State’s office, Edible Arrangements, Advasure Insurance, Approved Cash Advance, Sprint, T-Mobile, Wings Etc., Arcadia Health and Travel Leaders.
Building Inspector Tom Baldwin said there will be an added retention area as a result of the expanded parking lot.
Rob Andrew, senior engineer and manager for Merritt Engineering, said they did the site plans for everything outside the building.
“We started developing the plans a few months ago,” Andrew said. “The parking lot is being expanded and, it’s hard to tell, but there’s an existing storm water retention area that will be expanded.”
(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Jan. 20, 2017)