TALLMADGE — Will the closing of one store in the community be an opportunity for another?
The U-Haul Company has proposed reusing the Kmart store at 555 South Ave. as a moving and storage facility; however, the manager of the Kmart says she hasn’t been informed the Tallmadge store is closing. A Kmart corporate representative did not respond to a phone or email inquiry by press time.
City Council is scheduled to consider a request for a conditional zoning certificate for a special non-residential development associated with U-Haul’s planned conversion of the facility on Thursday evening. The Tallmadge Planning Commission gave the proposal its support on March 7.
Alissa Nider, U-Haul Company of Akron president, told members of the city’s planning commission that she should have more information by the end of this month regarding when the Kmart store will be closing. She reported U-Haul will be purchasing both the 8-plus acres property on which Kmart sits as well as the building.
"Instead of having the vacant building in the community," Nider said, "we have proposed to go in and make it adaptive to our uses."
Nider reported Kmart put a package of five or six stores on the market. "Hopefully the public realizes that we didn’t approach them to purchase property and take them out of business or anything like that," Nider said, adding, "It’s the opposite. We would never do that to a business."
"I have no objection to something going in if we’re going out, but we have not been told any of this," Deborah Mandat, the manager of the Tallmadge Kmart, told planners March 7.
However, in a March 12 email to the Tallmadge Express, Jeff Lockridge, manager of media and public relations for U-Haul International, reported AMERCO Real Estate, the parent company of U-Haul, "is pursuing an opportunity to acquire the Kmart property in Tallmadge."
"We are unable to provide specifics, or offer a time frame at this point, as we have not closed on the property and wish to respect the current owner, as well as this process," Lockridge added.
Both Nider and Lockridge say U-Haul has transformed several Kmart properties in recent years for the purpose of preserving and repurposing these buildings.
Nider reported there are about 28,000 people in a 3-mile radius that U-Haul could serve with its products at that South Avenue location. U-Haul truck and trailer rentals and moving supplies would be available, Nider said, and customers would have access to climate-controlled storage units inside.
Nider said the Tallmadge U-Haul store would employ between 15 to 20 people "depending how much business flow is there." She described most U-Haul employees as those who already hold full-time jobs elsewhere who need a secondary income.
Reporter Ellin Walsh can be reached at 330-541-9419, email@example.com or @EllinWalsh_RPC.