Work on the renovated and expanded State Road Acme Fresh Market will begin today after an official groundbreaking ceremony.
The store, which dates to March 4, 1949, will be 60 percent larger when completed, said Acme President Steve Albrecht.
It took about 10 years of planning and acquiring parcels of land to form the plans to rebuild the store, which has been falling into disrepair.
The new store will go from 30,000 square feet to 52,000 with expanded and new departments including the bakery, floral, prepared foods, pharmacy and specialty meat case.
“It’s a big project for us,” said Albrecht of the $8.5 million investment. “Any store is a big project, but this one is particularly difficult. We’ll be keeping the existing store in operation while we build a new store around it. We’re going to set up a webcam so customers can see this unfold.”
An in-store cafe called the Good Day Cafe will be added as well as a new U.S. Bank branch. Albrecht said all renovated stores that don’t have bank branches have been adding locations. Acme also recently added U.S. Bank branches in Tallmadge and Parma. There are also Charter One and Chase branches in other Acmes.
Customers won’t notice much in the first few months since the new construction will begin in the back of the store where a former auto detailing and car wash building stood, said Albrecht.
“We’ll have letters we mail out and we’ll have maps in the stores and explaining all of this to our customers,” he said.
The goal is to have the completed store ready for Thanksgiving, with some behind-the-scenes work continuing through February 2013, he said.
The original sign from the street is being restored and a football-shaped sign that says “Super Acme Market” will be on the building.
Inside, Albrecht said company officials are still working on the design theme, but the idea is for a 1950s color theme best described as “Mondrian,” referring to the painter known for his colorful, geometric paintings.
“We hope it helps the store fit very comfortably into the neighborhood. That store grew up when it was surrounded by cornfields. It’s now going to be an old friend back in the neighborhood,” he said.
Albrecht Inc., the real estate development unit for Acme, is building the project. Albrecht is not currently in negotiations for any other property, but is looking at other properties up and down State Road that might need to be fixed up and redeveloped to “make sure that area of State Road is in top shape for our store,” said Albrecht.
The larger store will have all of the conveniences of a larger Acme store without being too big, said Albrecht.
Acme’s competitor Giant Eagle will be building a new 92,000-square-foot store to replace its Graham Road store in the new Portage Crossing development down the street at Portage Trail and State Road.
“We think we are going to win with this one,” Albrecht said, “with our service, our convenience. My sense is sometimes stores get too big, that grocers get carried away — and we’re guilty of that, too — in terms of making ... customers feel like they’re lost.
“Most of the time, customers are in a hurry. They want to get in and get out and want fast checkout,” said Albrecht.
When asked if longtime customers, particularly senior citizens, might not like a bigger store, Albrecht said there might be complaints since some people were used to their smaller store.
“At the end of the day, with the assortment they have not had and will have, they’ll be happy with what they’ll find in Acme No. 10. We’re looking to serve not only senior citizens, but moms with kids will find this to be a very shoppable store,” he said.