I would think that someone who has a degree in City Planning would realize that. Evidently not.
200 feet away, on the other side of the Belle Tire building, there is a perfectly serviceable empty spot for lease. It's been empty for over 2 years now.
I'm pretty sure there's still a spot next to Jimmy John's and Gamestop.
The mall is half-empty; plenty of spaces there.
The Monroe Mall (Big Lots, etc.) has plenty of open spaces for lease. At least a dozen.
Lest we forget the plaza containing the late, great Johnny Rockets.
The economic reality that it's apparently easier to dig up farmland and open spaces to build another marginally used building than it is to reuse existing infrastructure belies a flaw in Frenchtown land use planning. They should be offering tax incentives and grants to businesses willing to fill up existing buildings, and actively discourage new development until vacant properties drop below a certain amount.
Once farmland is gone... it's gone, man. You can't very easily undo the flattening/paving/digging/poisoning of the land.
But who cares, right? It's a big country, and I'm sure China will be more than happy to supply us with our corn and soy in a few years once we've run out of arable land.