Hartland Township officials are planning for an analysis of the area to determine how much demand there will be for retail in the future.

The township’s Planning Commission met Thursday and discussed bids from three different firms looking to conduct the retail market analysis. Township Planner Troy Langer says a couple of developers have recently approached the Planning Commission about changing areas with a commercial zoning in the township to residential zoning. Some claim the retail market is not strong enough, citing the supposed trend of consumers shopping online instead of at brick and mortar stores. But there is still debate surrounding that trend. A recent Forbes’ article indicates retail experiences push customers to shop online, while others say brick and mortar retail simply needs a makeover that’s already underway.

Langer says the latter has the Planning Commission wondering whether it’s too soon to assume brick and mortar is out and rezoning is in. He says the Planning Commission is struggling with the suggestion to rezone because they feel once they give that land up to residential, it likely will not be available for commercial developments again, adding commissioners are trying to think long-term before they make a decision.

Commissioners are hoping the firms looking to conduct the market analysis can give them an idea on what the demand for retail may look like in the future, what kind of retail that would be, and whether they should rezone commercial districts to residential. Langer says officials have already met with one firm and would like to hear from another before choosing which will carry out the analysis. (DK)