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River officials optimistic about Rockport

Although rumors have swirled around the redevelopment of the Rockport Shopping Center on Center Ridge Road for two years, city officials are optimistic that despite the sour economy, a major retailer will settle the dust.
“The owners want to keep the site retail. They have expressed interest in mixed-use development and it is the opinion that a big box (store) will take the old Target,” Economic and Community Development Director Kory Koran commented in a recent interview.
While he could not divulge any details, Koran said, “There is a large big box looking at the former Target.” He added that a meeting with with representatives was planned for the following day. Koran noted the demolished portion of the plaza was deemed unmarketable and not worth keeping by the site owners Wald/Fisher.
In his September report to city council, Koran said Wald/Fisher had turned down an opportunity to lease the parking area to Fairview Hospital, which fed rumors that a big box retailer was interested in the former Target location. In May of 2008, it was announced that a “significant anchor” tenant had signed a letter of intent and would take up the 35,000-square-foot building. At that time, Wald/Fisher was in negotiations with Target, which had a long-term lease on the location.
The expected phased development plan did not come to pass. Koran revealed the interested retailer, Best Buy, backed out of the plans.
“The company had huge layoffs and the Circuit City stores closed so those locations became available,” Koran explained. He indicated Target had bought out the lease on the empty building and is no longer involved with negotiations.
Goodman Real Estate Developers, which is marketing the site, had drawn up a proposed plan for the space which would hold five, 25,000- to 30,000-square-foot businesses. Goodman developed the Avon Commons Shopping Center in Avon.
“It would definitely be better if we were in a more well-known plaza,” commented Performance Bicycle manager Kayleigh Thompson, saying that while business in her store has been stable, more traffic would mean more business.
Gina Janson, marketing manager for Huntington Bank said, historically, the Rocky River branch has done well, and has maintained a steady client base. “I’d personally like to see more business in the center,” she stated, adding, like Perfomance Bicycle, there are no plans to move or close.
Mayor Pam Bobst is as hopeful as she has ever been about plans for the center.
“I’m very excited. There are a couple of projects going on,” she said, adding that caution is being taken during this phase of the planning due to possible competition from other location for businesses.
Koran also reported the Beachcliff Market Square is 96 percent occupied. Three new tenants will soon be up and running, including Mello Yellow and Girls Got Swing, both women’s clothing and asssesory shops, and Salon Centric, a L’Oreal Corporation store selling to professional beauticians. Koran has credited property manager Bill Brink for retail growth at the center.

 

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