By Heather Beyer
Special to the Beacon Journal
STOW: After four years, a vacancy on Kent Road left by Taco Bell finally will be filled.
On deck for the property is construction of a Little Caesar’s restaurant, which is expected to begin this summer. The local developer Lababidi Group received permission from city officials last month to build the new restaurant.
City officials approached Lababidi last year. The group was considering the property for acquisition and redevelopment but was hesitant due to the condition and design of the existing structure.
As part of the agreement with the Lababidi Group, the city agreed to undertake the demolition of the building, provided the property was redeveloped. That demolition occurred in November.
Walid Lababidi said the firm wants to bring diversity to the restaurant options available in the area.
“That building was an eyesore and neglected,” Lababidi said. “We have a vested interest of bringing the whole value of property up in the city.”
Before the building was razed completely, the Stow Fire Department was able to find a valuable use for it.
Firefighters conducted training exercises in late November. They practiced forcible entry into the structure using various tools and techniques.
City officials said such training exercises in a commercial building provide a rare opportunity for new and even veteran firefighters to hone their skills in a controlled environment.
“We were pleased that they were able to have the opportunity to train in that building,” Planning Director Rob Kurtz said. “To have an opportunity to train in an actual building is valuable, because otherwise they are doing [it]in some simulated environment or by the book, and that certainly is not as practical.”