A movie theater might be coming soon to the proposed Portage Crossing retail development in Cuyahoga Falls.
City officials and the developer are mum about whether that could mean Menard’s or Giant Eagle, the previously announced anchors, might no longer be in the project.
An amendment to the contract for Portage Crossing was introduced to Cuyahoga Falls City Council on Monday night. That amendment, released with the agenda for the meeting, did not provide any detail other than asking “to provide for a movie theater to be part of the development.”
Redeveloping the corner of State Road and Portage Trail has been in the works since the city purchased the aging State Road Shopping Center for $10 million in 2008 and tore it down.
Stark Enterprises, developer of several area retail centers, including The Strip in Jackson Township and Crocker Park in Westlake, has been under contract with the city to purchase and develop the land since 2010. Closing on the property has been delayed several times.
Retailers that Stark Enterprises has announced for the project have included Menard’s, Giant Eagle, Chef Michael Symon’s B Spot Restaurant, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Panera Bread, Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt and Pet Supplies Plus.
City Development Director Sue Truby said Monday morning that the amendment for the movie theater would be introduced to the council but would not be discussed until next Monday.
“Some of the retailers have changed. Some have gone and some have come, which necessitated a new revised layout of the plan. I’m excited by it,” Truby said. “Everything that’s happened has been all good modifications.”
When asked whether Menard’s or Giant Eagle no longer would be involved in the project, Truby replied, “I won’t answer that.”
Giant Eagle spokesman Dan Donovan said Monday that the retailer is still looking forward to being part of the Portage Crossing development.
Answering an inquiry Monday, Menard’s spokesman Jeff Abbott said the company had “nothing to report at this time.”
Truby declined to give much detail on the proposed amendment, saying the documents still are being prepared for City Council and the city wanted to keep council members updated first.
Some City Council members reached by phone Monday morning declined comment.
When asked whether some of the smaller retailers, which often sign on to a project to be near certain anchor stores, are still on the roster, Truby said there might be some changes, but Stark Enterprises would be better to answer that. She also said many stores, like coffee shops, aren’t necessarily tied to a specific retailer.
A call to Stark Enterprises seeking comment was not returned.
Truby said Stark officials hope to be able to give council members more details about the project for next week’s meeting, including a specific groundbreaking date and the names of more tenants.
“They’ve already engaged in the closing process” for the property, though it has not been finalized, Truby said.
She acknowledged the project has taken longer than originally anticipated, but said in light of so many area companies announcing layoffs or scrapping plans for projects and headquarters in a tough economy, “the fact that the developer has reached some resolution in some really great plans in a go-forward motion is just fantastic.”
“There has been a change, but it’s a change for the good. We’ll get into detail on that on Monday. It’s nothing bad. I think the public will really be pleased at where we’re going to be with this project,” Truby said.
Stark Enterprises is paying nearly $3.8 million for the 29 acres, with the amount to be deposited into a State Road fund that will be used to reimburse the company for construction costs, up to the full amount of the purchase price.
Stark also has purchased some additional property to expand the project and must turn over a portion of it to the city for road and utility improvements.
The $11 million the city spent for the land and demolition will be repaid through a Tax Increment Financing program. Property taxes collected from Stark on the unimproved land will be allocated with 78 percent paying down debt and 22 percent going to Cuyahoga Falls schools.
In the meantime, public improvement projects have begun on the property, Truby said. There are new sidewalks, curbs, lighting and traffic signals being worked on now.
Beacon Journal correspondent Gina Mace contributed to this report. Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blinfisher and see all her stories at www.ohio.com/betty.