By Kevin Kelley
Lamar Companies has a reputation for upgrading distressed retail shopping centers. Tenants at Fairview Centre, which was purchased last month by Lamar, hope that’s what happens at their strip mall.
Schreibman Jewelers has been a tenant of Fairview Centre since the mid-1950s. But the growing number of vacancies at the 64-year-old property in recent years caused owner Paul Schreibman to give some thought to relocating.
Thanks in part to a loyal clientele, Schreibman never made the move.
Schreibman told West Life that he’s quietly optimistic that Lamar’s purchase of the property means Fairview Centre will see brighter days.
“We really don’t know too much, but we’re just hoping for the best,” he said.
Lamar officials have said they intend to fill vacant stores, something Schreibman believes can only benefit his business.
Schreibman said news that Lamar plans to invest $1.5 to 2 million in the center sounds great to him. Especially welcome, he said, is word that the facade and canopy over the stores will be redone.
“It’s been a real haven for birds building their nests,” he said of the existing canopy.
Bill Kuczinski, owner of Fairview Lanes, an original Fairview Centre tenant, said he’s pleased that a national company with the expertise, resources and contacts to revamp the center is now in charge.
“Any time someone new comes in, you hope it will be better than the way it was,” said Kuczinski, whose parents and brother purchased the bowling alley in 1967. A teenager at the time, Kuczinski has worked there ever since.
Recent departures by Blockbuster Video and Dodd Camera were huge blows to Fairview Centre and its other tenants, Kuczinski said.
“It’s been bleak here,” he said of the high number of vacancies.
Filling vacancies will help his bowling alley business, Kuczinski said. “The place had become a white elephant,” he said, adding that city officials had “bent over backwards” to try to assist the shopping plaza.
He said he has wondered why Fairview Centre can’t do as well as Kamm’s Corner in West Park, Center Ridge Road in Rocky River and Great Northern shopping center in North Olmsted.
On July 19, Mayor Eileen Patton and Economic Development Director Jim Kennedy met with Phil Schneider, Lamar’s vice president of asset management, and Lavinia Sherman-Truelove, the company’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.
Patton described the meeting as very positive but added that it will take time for the results of Lamar’s proposed improvements to have an impact.
The mayor expressed confidence that Lamar will address the vacancy problem at the center.
“They’re in this business, so they know what (stores) belong there,” Patton said.
Kennedy also said he believes Lamar will work hard to bring down the vacancy signs and bring other improvements to the plaza.
“One of the things that we wanted to see was an upgrade in the facade, and they’re going to do that,” he said.