Falls Council extends contract for retail development
New Portage Crossing offerings named
CUYAHOGA FALLS — Cuyahoga Falls City Council is giving the developer of a proposed retail plaza another chance to seal the deal despite concerns vocalized by one Council member.
At the April 23 meeting, Council approved 10-1 extending the city’s contract with Stark Enterprises of Cleveland for up to four additional months, with Councilwoman Carol Klinger (R-at large) voting “no.”
“The original contract was extended twice, and it has expired,” Klinger said.
She wanted the city and Stark Enterprises to go back and create a “balanced contract.” Klinger is fearful Stark’s project, Portage Crossing on State Road, may become a burden to taxpayers.
The city entered into a contract with Stark Enterprises in May 2010 for the purchase of the former State Road Shopping Center site, a 28-acre parcel of land on the corner of State and Graham roads. According to the original contract, the sale of the property was to be finalized in one year.
At first, Stark Enterprises agreed to construct and fill about 280,000 square feet of retail space, a $40 million project, according to Mayor Don Robart. But Portage Crossing has grown in to a 400,000-square-foot development, a $60 million investment, he has said.
Community Development Director Susan Truby reported to Council earlier this month that Stark quickly was moving forward with plans for its shopping and dining venue and would close on the sale as soon as possible.
Toward the end of last year, Council began to pressure the city administration and Stark to discuss plans for Portage Crossing, specifically the stores committed to the development.
Jointly, Robart and Stark Enterprises recently announced about 26 percent of Portage Crossing’s occupants, which include Panera Bread, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Pet Supplies Plus and Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt.
Additionally, it was made public that Giant Eagle would anchor the southern end of the complex. Robart said the Giant Eagle would be a 92,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art grocery store.
A Giant Eagle currently is located on Graham Road. Klinger said she does not approve relocating one of the city’s largest businesses just one block over. She does not want to see the present Giant Eagle building left empty either.
Portage Crossings was to bring new businesses and jobs to the city, she said.
Panera Bread and Chipotle already are located in the city, as well.
Klinger said she is excited about the new businesses coming to the Falls, however, and still does support the project as a whole.
Celebrity chef Michael Symon, of Cleveland, will locate his restaurant B Spot to Portage Crossing, and Menards will anchor the northern end of Portage Crossing, according to city officials. The home improvement store will occupy more than 250,000 square feet of the development, according to city officials.
Robart has said groundbreaking for Portage Crossing will begin in June and construction will take about a year and a half to complete.
Also during the meeting, Council approved the demolition of 818 Shannon Ave.
Council additionally held an executive session with no action taken at the close of the meeting regarding the use of eminent domain to obtain a portion of land from the Mandarin House Restaurant of China, 3201 State Road, for the State Road widening project.
Council will discuss new legislation during committee meetings May 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the Cuyahoga Falls Natatorium, 2345 Fourth St. Council will have its next regular meeting May 14 at 6:30 p.m. at the Natatorium.
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