by Andrea Cole

Associate Editor

Stow -- City officials say they want to ensure the former Kmart building does not remain vacant.

During its June 14 meeting, City Council approved legislation allowing Developers Diversified to renovate the property in the Stow Community Center on Kent Road.

While Developers Diversified development manager Brian Suiter could not name all the businesses that would occupy the site, three of the proposed businesses are Starbucks Coffee, Panera Bread Co. and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Suiter said the company hopes to begin renovations on the front portion of the property by adding three buildings.

One building would total 1,700-square-foot and be home to Starbucks Coffee and the second building would comprise approximately 7,000 square feet and house Panera Bread Co. and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

The third building would total 13,200 square feet. Suiter could not name the tenants for the third facility.

After some of the businesses move into the front facilities, renovations of the former Kmart facility would begin, said Suiter. The 116,942-square-foot building was home to Kmart until it closed in January.

The plans call for five businesses to open in the building, which would be reduced by 23,000 square feet.

Suiter estimated the total cost of the project at $25 million, and if approved, construction of the front three buildings could begin by the fall.

"We are meeting with city engineers next week," he said June 14. "We are happy Council approved the plans, and we want to get started as soon as possible."

He added it could be six to 10 months before all five tenants are finalized for the former Kmart building.

Councilmember Janet D'Antonio said she and some Councilmembers are concerned the former Kmart facility will remain vacant after the front three buildings are filled.

"We want to know the improvements will be done," said D'Antonio. "But, we are very excited about the fact that Developers Diversified is doing this. It can only look better than it has in years."

Suiter said city officials should not be concerned.

"We have tenants for the front, and we want to start now," he said. "We have no intention of leaving [the site] vacant."

To ensure renovations to the former Kmart facility are completed, Council approved an amendment stating the project will have two phases.

During the first phase, the 1,700-square-foot building and the 7,000-square-foot building will be completed along with renovations to the entire site. During the second phase, the 13,000-square-foot building and renovations to the former Kmart building will be completed.

"As much as possible, we want to make sure renovations are done to the former Kmart," said Councilmember Ron Alexander, adding he believes the amendment will help.

Councilmember Mary Bednar said she wants stormwater improvements to be made to the site, although they are not required by the city.

"The building and parking lot were put in during the 1960s," she said. "The standards that were set 40 years ago were different, and the area is different. Sometimes [companies] need to do things that are not required to do."

Suiter said the company will look into landscaping options to address stormwater management concerns.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for June 28 at 8 p.m. in Stow City Hall.

E-mail: acole@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-686-3947