Cuyahoga Falls City Council approved an amended deal to sell the former State Road Shopping Center property to the developer of the Portage Crossing Development.
Appearing on the 1590 WAKR Ray Horner Morning Show, Falls Mayor Don Robart said the move is a big step in the reinvestment of the area.
"I think it's a big plus and I feel it will bring a lot of pride to our community," he said.
The new contract gives the project developer Stark Enterprises a 10-year $50,000 rebate a year on electric for the common areas of the shopping center, such as sidewalks and parking lots.
In addition, the deal offers the developer up to $129,000 annually in admissions tax generated from the planned Cinemark movie theater planned to go in Portage Crossing over a 10-year period.
The highly anticipated project has been in the works since 2008, when the city bought the State Road Shopping Center.
Mayor Robart said that if Council did not approve the contract during their meeting Monday night, Stark Enterprises would have walked away from the deal, which would have been a huge detriment to the city.
"We essentially had our backs against the wall, but by the same token we were committed to Stark as the best developer for our project."
Council voted 9-2 to approve the deal.
Councilwoman Carol Klinger was among those who voted the measure down, saying she is supportive of development, just not at the expense of the city's taxpayers.
Groundbreaking on Portage Crossing is expected to begin in the late summer or early fall of this year.
Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart talks with Ray about the recent city council vote on Portage Crossing.
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Gavin Scott Spa and Salon in Akron received the Excellence in Business Award from the Greater Akron Chamber.
Home improvement store Menards is joining the lineup at the future Portage Crossing retail development in Cuyahoga Falls.
"I would say it's kind of like a cross between a Home Depot and a Lowe's on steroids-- it's just bigger, they have more things and unique things," Mayor Don Robart said.
Robart says this store will lure shoppers to the soon-to-be-built retail complex on State Road.
"I think it's going to be a very popular destination for people not only in Cuyahoga Falls, but way beyond," he said.
Menards will occupy space close to where the former Montgomery Wards was located. Giant Eagle will occupy the the south side of the development.
As for places to snack or dine out; Panera Bread, Chipolte Mexican Grill and Chef Michael Symon's B Spot restaurant have also signed on as tenants to join Portage Crossing.
"We're expecting about six or eight more announces between now and when we break ground, which will probably be in June," he said. "The reason we're not positive how many is that, it depends on how much square feet they want."
Portage Crossing Signs First Tenants
Giant Eagle operates two stores in Cuyahoga Falls, but one might move if plans progress for a retail development the city has been working to kick start.
Giant Eagle officials tell the Beacon they're interested in becoming an anchor store at the Portage Crossing retail development off of State Road. Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart said the store of a major anchor would take up 94,000 square feet.
The Pittsburgh-based chain would then have to move its Graham Road location just down the street.
Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart told 1590 WAKR's Ray Horner back in December that the city had 15 businesses committed in one fashion or another to the development of Portage Crossing.
"Whether it be through a letter of intent or a signed lease or expressed some desire in wanting to be part of the team," Robart said.
Groundbreaking is expected to start no later than the fall of 2013.
On the web: Ohio.com
Cuyahoga Falls city officials are hearing a little bit more about plans for Portage Cross by the developer. A representative of Stark Enterprises gave the update at last night's city council meeting.
According to Mayor Don Robart, there will be a large retailer at both the north and south ends of the development; one of them has not been secured the other has not been identified as anything other than a grocery store.
"We did hear that there are 15 businesses that are committed in one fashion or another, whether it be through a letter of intent or a signed lease or expressed some desire in wanting to be part of the team," said Robart.
Portage Crossing update - Chris Keppler by Akron NewsNow
Robart understands that it's frustrating to those watching closely that there aren't more details, but he says that's part of the marketing strategy, not to mention that convincing retailers to make investments is not easy.
"I feel pretty good about it given the fact that this is probably as bad of economic times as you could imagine and yet things are still moving ahead with Portage Crossing," said the mayor.
Portage Crossing was originally planned as a multi--phase, 279,000 square foot development, but has nearly doubled in size and will be completed in a single phase. Robart says groundbreaking should still take place in March.
Interest shown recently by retailers and businesses could change the game when it comes to possible occupants at Portage Crossing in Cuyahoga Falls.
The former site of the State Road Shopping Center, still sits vacant with a sign previewing the new complex on the way.
"No one is more impatient than I am," said Don Robart, mayor of Cuyahoga Falls on the 1590 WAKR Ray Horner Morning Show. "I want everything to happen now. Despite the fact that nothing looks like it's going on, there's a ton going on under the radar screen."
With changes in the size of the proposed shopping complex growing from 270,000 square feet to now 500,000 square feet and new possible vendors, Robart said it could be as early as 60 days from now that the official announcement of retailers moving in would be made.
"The interest as of particularly late has been tremendous," he said. "Our developers came back from Chicago, there was a lot of interest shown by developers and businesses that weren't even in the ballpark prior to this."
Possible Tenants According to Robart:
While an announcement of tenants was expected around Labor Day weekend. Robart said the developer is working to meet the community's needs and demographic for the right fit. Robart admits the city is behind on the project, as he said the economy and recession is slowing down the progress.
Falls, Developer Rounding Up Tenants For Portage Crossing by WAKR Lindsay McCoy
"Who's building anything right now?" he said. It's just not being done. So the fact that we're still moving ahead, we still have what we see is a deadline on the project I think is good news for Cuyahoga Falls and certainly the region."
Robart expects groundbreaking to take place in late winter or early spring of 2012, with a completion goal aimed for fall of 2013.
Mayor Robart Chats About Portage Crossing Future
Full Steam Ahead For Portage Crossing
A key parcel in the planned Portage Crossing is now in the hands of the city of Cuyahoga Falls.
City officials announced the purchase of the former BP gas station at the northeast corner of State Road and Portage Trail. It's been closed for some time.
Cuyahoga Falls director of development Susan Truby says the former gas station is a key gateway to the retail project.
"It is the key corner, again, because you're going to have a brand new project with a whole different total look," Truby tells AkronNewsNow.com, "so it was very important that a gas station not be located there."
Truby says the underground tanks at the old BP station were removed long ago, and the city expects no problems with quick demolition of the property.
Truby tells AkronNewsNow.com that developer Stark Enterprises could have some news very soon about Portage Crossing tenants.
"Yes, we're getting close," Truby says. "The developer tells us he is very, very close to signing some deals."
The purchase price for the former BP station was $885,000, split 50/50 between the city and Stark Enterprises under the project agreement.
The future of the Portage Crossing Shopping Center was on the minds of Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart and members of City Council at last night's meeting.
Officials from Stark Enterprises say the project along State Road is moving along, but has been slowed somewhat because of the economy.
At the present time, 13 letters of intent have been signed by businesses interested in locating at Portage Crossing. Mayor Robart said they hoped to have more businesses signed up at this time, But, the Mayor says economic concerns have slowed that process.
Mayor Robart says the goal is to have up to 20 businesses sign letters of intent to locate in the Portage Crossing Shopping Center.
Mayor Robart thinks the Shopping Center could be anchored by 'Big Box' stores at its north and south ends.
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