STOW -- A proposed change to site plans for a planned Meijer department store in the Stow-Kent Shopping Center would reduce the size of the store by more than 30,000 square feet.

The city's planning commission approved a recommendation for approval of a revised site plan that would reduce the store's size from 192,940 square feet that was approved in 2014 to 159,253 square feet.

The revision is scheduled to go before City Council's planning committee May 25 for possible inclusion on the regular meeting's agenda later that evening.

City Planning Director Rob Kurtz said the revision would also move the store 89 feet to the east, to 169 feet from the west property line with the Stow-Glen Retirement Village. This is to include a 50-foot buffer between the shopping center and Stow-Glen where existing vegetation, including evergreen trees along the property line will remain. Additional landscaping and screening is also planned, said Kurtz.

He said the revised plan increases the green open space of the overall shopping center from just under 20 percent to 27 percent.

"It's a huge improvement," said commission member Chris Brauer.

In addition, the revised site plan eliminates plans for a 2,500-square-foot Meijer convenience store/gas station on a site now occupied by a Wendy's restaurant on the north side of Kent Road, as well as a parking lot behind the Meijer store.

Meijer completed the purchase of its portion of the plaza from Stow-Kent Associates for nearly $3.79 million in December, according to Summit County property records.

The Meijer store will be about 800 feet from Kent Road. Stow-Kent Associates still owns a portion of the plaza closest to the road, as well as the Macy's department store property just west of the Meijer site and the Wendy's restaurant.

The Meijer store is to include various departments, including grocery, a drive-thru pharmacy and an outdoor garden center. A portion of the plaza now occupied by a Big Lots store is expected to be demolished next year to make more space for parking.

Meijer real estate manager Cris Jones told the commission that underground utility work is expected to start in July, with construction expected to begin early next year after the Big Lots lease expires at the end of January.

"We plan to open in spring of [2019]," Jones told the Stow Sentry after the meeting.

Jones said that Meijer is considering a number of other locations in Northeast Ohio, including Brimfield, where he said Meijer is in negotiations with the developer of the 120-acre Maplecrest Golf Club property. Meijer was also looking at a site in Northfield Center, said Jones, but has no plans there "for the present."

Jones also said that Meijer has purchased property in Avon and Mentor and has purchase agreements for property in Bainbridge, Lorain and Austintown.

Email: jsaunders@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9431

Facebook: Jeff Saunders Record

Twitter: /JeffSaunders_RP