The recent opening of a Dollar General store on Canton Road is paving the way for future cooperation between two southeast Summit County communities, their leaders say.
The 91,000-square-foot store, boasting many upgrades from the company’s typical retail outlets, was constructed along the property line that divided Springfield Township and Lakemore.
“The municipal line almost bisects the building,” said Lakemore Mayor Rick Justice.
Most developers shied away from the site because they expected that dealing with rules from two separate political entities would be a headache, said Springfield Township Trustee Dean Young.
“That chased out other developers who had concerns about dealing with the two governments,” he said.
But with as many as 19,000 vehicles a day driving past the property — located across the intersection from the high school and middle school under construction on Sanitarium Road — the lure to businesses was strong, Young said.
“It’s in a prime location,” Justice agreed.
The men felt that if the two communities could work together to alleviate the fears of potential developers, they had a good shot at snagging a great looking building that might encourage other businesses to develop property north of the site along Canton Road.
“This was a triumph of cooperation between Springfield and Lakemore,” said Young, who was on hand along with Justice for the store’s Nov. 10 grand opening. Their presence at the early morning event was symbolic as well.
“We proved we could cooperate and get an excellent result,” Young said.
Not only did they succeed, but Dollar General Corp., a Fortune 500 company that operates retail stores selling discounted household goods, agreed to several upgrades not usually seen in their stores, said project manager John Wojtila of Lakewood-based Zaremba Group.
Although he wouldn’t comment on the cost, he said the Nashville, Tenn., company agreed to put more money in the building than it usually invests.
Wojtila said the building, with new sign technology and a columned facade, is not the typical Dollar General design.
“The building was upgraded,” he said, based on requests by both communities and Young and Justice, who were on the job site regularly during construction.
“We think they made more of an investment than they expected,” Justice said.
The city of Akron and Summit County were also involved in the early stages of planning and construction, Wojtila said.
“There were a lot of agencies involved,” he said.
The building upgrades extend from the brick facade with parapet walls, to the interior, with wider, easier-to-navigate aisles.
New technology turns the three-foot black letters that are mounted above the entrance to yellow at night. A sign near the street was downsized and mounted closer to the ground than signs at other sites, Justice said.
He and Young took several scouting trips together visiting other area Dollar General stores to make sure they knew what they wanted to see built on the site.
“One of the reasons we took such a strong stand about the aesthetics of the building was we expect future expansion along [state Route] 91 to look good, as well, ” said Young.
Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.