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Chestnut Commons & Southside Grocery Store Updates

Oct 16, 2023

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Check back often for more news, updates and information with the Chestnut Commons & Southside Grocery Store projects.

Southside Grocery Store Video Transcript:

Greg: My name is Greg Slyman, I work with ABC Development, and I’m also a commercial broker with Howard Hannah Commercial Real Estate in Cleveland. I’ve worked regionally with multiple grocers. I’ve done business with Trader Joe’s, Meyers, and Giant Eagle – those have been the primary ones. I’ve also done a little bit of work with Save-A-Lot in the past.  ALDI’s has had a site on Oberlin Ave. for at least 20 years.  At one time, I believe  it was about 11,000 square feet. They expanded it to 15,000 or 16,000 square feet. Since then, their new prototype project is almost 23,000 square feet. They pulled it back a little bit and have been looking to upgrade their facilities and this new prototype is what they’re proposing on Chestnut Ridge Commons Road. They also wanted to have accessibility to a larger group of people, so it’s at Route 57,  where you have another major retailer, Walmart. In Lorain County there are three Walmarts, one in Avon, Lorain and Elyria. Of those three, the Elyria Walmart does the best.  The Elyria Walmart is grossing about $125 million a year. The other two are under $100 million a year. So they can see a large draw coming to that specific area and they’re enamored with it. They see the opportunity to move their  new prototype facility to that location and be able to draw more people because of the accessibility of Route 57 – there’s approximately 45,000 cars a day that go by. So, from a real estate standpoint, it would have a much greater impact for them as a store location.

Mayor Whitfield:  We’ve had several meetings with a lot of folks, including Brenda Warren, and we’ve organized our community around this issue. There’s a lot of concern. I think from the city’s standpoint, there’s a sense of wanting to hold ALDI’s accountable. Yes, we understand the business move but you’re also leaving a community with a deficit. What are they going to do to help fill that deficit? I know part of our agreement with you is to help us find a new grocer, and again when we walk today we will be looking at locations.

Mayor Whitfield: One of the things we’re hoping for, Greg, as you walk away, is a compelling story. If a grocer was to come here, it must understand that there’s a community ready to support it. There’s a community ready to patronize and support a grocery store that would be here.  I think we need to talk a little bit about this whole neighborhood concept for a grocery store and what those options are.

Mayor Whitfield: Greg, in terms of initial thoughts,  what do you think we could do as a city to try to attract a grocer to this neighborhood?

Greg:  I deal with a lot of national brands. But what I see being very successful is the grassroots market. When you start looking at who is actually doing that in the northeast Ohio area, startups are always the most volatile getting started and getting stabilized. A lot of cities will come in and help fund those businesses to get started. We’ve been talking to Dave’s and to Peppers. I have not reached out to Apple again to see what their situation is, but if you can find someone who already has three or four stores – like Rigo’s and Lake Road Market,  we would talk to them about creating a smaller version. The most difficult thing in the area, especially when we’re talking about the food industry, is bringing in fresh vegetables and other fresh items that you can’t get at Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores. You want to be able to provide healthy options to the people who live in the neighborhood. It seems simple, but it’s not the easiest thing to accomplish in every neighborhood. So, that’s what we’re really going to be focusing on.

There is one national brand in particular that I spoke to today called Grocery Outlet who is interested in this location. Grocery Outlet has 470 stores.  Mayor Whitfield, you and I have discussed them, they’re located in California. Our company represents them, and we are a tenant representation for them in northeast Ohio. Specifically, they asked about this location again, and they’re planning to tour it again.

Mayor Whitfield: The other thing I want us to be thinking about, is what if that location isn’t the best? I know growing up, ALDI’s wasn’t within walking distance. We had to walk down Oberlin Road, and there weren’t a lot of sidewalks there. People would cut through the field. But now as we’re walking around, and even as we’re just thinking about the neighborhood, are there locations that you would  recommend by saying, “I believe this is a good location or that is a good location.” As Greg mentioned the 15,000 square feet – I think it’s been the number that we’ve been trying to figure out. Is there an existing structure with that amount of space already? Or could we convince the city to white box some space?

Chestnut Commons Video Transcript:

Mayor Whitfield: Traffic is definitely a priority for us there, because as Greg mentioned, with the amount of people it’s a hotspot right now. You know it’s similar to how Crocker and Avon Commons heated up. That area is heating up so you  have to figure out the traffic patterns.

Greg: To that point, yes.  When you think about what happened to the mall here in Elyria,  we need to lean in to the best possibility. Do you want to include other retailers in your market? Do you want TJ Maxx,  Ulta or others?  Perhaps  some of them are in Lorain,  but most of them are in Avon or Westlake. We have to lean in to figure out a way to alleviate that issue, because there is momentum on that quadrant. There is absolute momentum for additional retailers.

Greg: Think about the community itself getting some of those national brands back that left the mall and went to Avon. Avon said, “Come on, we’ll build this or we’ll build that. We’ll build the new Target.” And that’s part of the reason that the mall is in the position that it’s in today. So when it comes to traffic, we have to figure it out. But we have to, as a group, come together.

Councilman: Question, is ODOT going to be proactive or reactive? The answer was that they’re going to be reactive. They’re not going to do anything ahead of time until the need is there.

Mayor Whitfield: Now we have the option as a city to be proactive in what we invest in. But you know,the councilman is right. They want to see the need, so we have to, because the problem exists today. The only way to fix the problem, unfortunately or fortunately, is through growth. When they see more growth, they’ll agree, “This is a real thing. Let’s allow them to put a new entrance into there. Let’s allow them to build a new road into there.” But if we just stay where we are now, the problem will just stay the way it is. So we have to solve the problem by growing, which to me, is a good challenge for the city to have.