STOW -- Although it will be reduced in size from what was expected, the Meijer store on the east side of Stow-Glen Retirement Village is still expected to be large.

But Stow-Glen officials say they don't expect the store, coming in a couple years, to a disruption to the residents.

"We're not too terribly worried," Stow-Glen spokesman Bob Pontius told the Stow Sentry June 1.

City Council approved 5-0 on May 25, with one absence and one abstention, a site plan change reducing the size of the store from 192,940 square feet that was approved in 2014 to 159,253 square feet.

The revised plan also eliminates a Meijer service station on the site of a Wendy's restaurant by Route 59 after the restaurant exercised lease options last fall that will allow it to remain for up to another decade.

A Meijer spokesperson could not be reached for additional information before press time.

Earlier in May, the city's planning commission gave its approval of the revised site plan.

City planning director Rob Kurtz has said that reducing the size of the store allows for it to be constructed farther away from the west property line with Stow-Glen, where there is also a natural gas easement that limits construction there. The reduction also increases the amount of green space on the property.

Meijer real estate manager Cris Jones told Council just before the vote, "We have analyzed the site plan over the last year and a half and we're just really tight on the site with the larger building."

Pontius said the employee-owned Stow-Glen has had some communication directly with Meijer and representatives at perhaps a couple of public meetings to "just kind of hear what they have to say." He said Stow-Glen had never had any significant concerns about the store.

"They've been real open with us so far," said Pontius. "Obviously, the only thing would be maybe just loose trash blowing through, but generally speaking, they have a good reputation for good clean stores, good maintenance, good landscaping, groundskeeping."

Construction is expected to begin in spring 2018 and take about a year.

Meijer completed the purchase of its portion of the plaza, more than 17 acres, from Stow-Kent Associates for nearly $3.79 million in December, according to Summit County property records. The originally approved project was estimated at $20 million in 2014, but no revised costs were available for the new site plan.

The Meijer store will be about 800 feet from Kent Road and 169 feet from the west boundary line with Stow-Glen, 89 feet farther than previously planned.

Additional landscaping and screening is planned to be added to existing vegetation, including evergreen trees, within that area.

Kurtz has said the revised plan increases the green open space of the overall shopping center from just under 20 percent to 27 percent. For just the Meijer property, it increases open space from nearly 28 percent to nearly 40 percent, said Kurtz, including planned traffic islands in the Meijer parking lot the size of four spaces.

Kurtz told the Stow Sentry June 1 that city zoning codes require at least 25 percent green space. He also said the revised site plan shows there will be 499 parking spaces in the Meijer parking lot, which is to be repaved, and 1,513 spaces in the overall shopping center and that these numbers are in compliance with city codes.

Stow-Kent Associates still owns a 34,000-square-foot portion of the plaza closest to the road, including stores facing Route 59 and a Fitworks Gym, which is all expected to undergo an extensive exterior remodeling this year. Stow-Kent Associates also still owns the Wendy's building and the 84,000-square-foot Macy's department store building just west of the Meijer site.

The Meijer store is to include various departments. Jones told the planning commission May 9 that about 100,000 square feet of the store will be a combined grocery section and "health and beauty pharmacy." The store is also to include general merchandise areas and an outside garden center. Jones said the larger store previously planned and the revised smaller store are the two "prototypes" that Meijer uses.

A 55,000-square-foot portion of the plaza now occupied solely by a Big Lots store is expected to be demolished next year to make way for additional parking space for Meijer.

About 89,500 square feet of vacant space at the rear of the plaza was demolished several years ago.

Jones has said underground utility work is expected to start in July, but the start of store construction will have to wait until after the Big Lots lease expires at the end of next January because construction would "impede" Big Lots business, something the lease prohibits.

Jones told the Stow Sentry earlier in May that Meijer hopes to open the store in spring 2019.

According to Meijer's website, the family-owned company owns about 230 stores on Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois , Kentucky and Wisconsin. Jones has said that most of Meijer's 41 Ohio stores are in the Columbus, Cincinnati and Dayton areas, but the company 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, and has a purchase agreement for property in Bainbridge. Jones also said that Meijer has purchased property in Avon, Mentor and Austintown and is at least close to purchasing property in Lorain.

"We're working on a lot of different markets," Jones told Council.

Councilor Brian D'Antonio was absent. Councilor John Pribonic said he was abstaining from voting because he works for the Acme grocery store chain, which has a store close to the Meijer site and will be a competitor, and wanted to avoid "any sign of any type of conflict."


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