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Published: Friday, 9/22/2006

Southwyck plan envisions well-known mid-price stores

BY MARY-BETH McLAUGHLIN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

If developer Larry Dillin has his way, the revitalized Southwyck mall will offer a mix of well-known retailers to serve residents within five miles of the Reynolds Road site.

A merchandising plan for the redeveloped Village at Southwyck shows the largest non-anchor stores could be such nationally known chains as Borders Books, Pier One, and Linen & Things, as well as a Sunflower Market with more than 20,000 square feet of space.

The smaller spaces would be filled with a mix of jewelry, clothing, and shoe stores familiar to shoppers at other area malls, such as Victoria's Secret, The Gap, and Kay Jewelers, as well as such restaurants as Olive Garden and Starbucks.

Those and other stores on his "wish list," obtained by The Blade, are included in a marketing plan he has sent to prospective retailers and others. The enclosed mall, under his previously unveiled proposal for the struggling shopping center, would be partly torn down and an array of storefronts with outdoor entrances would be constructed.

The president of Dillin Development Corp. said he's hopeful the revitalized Southwyck means the property will be taken off www.deadmalls.com, a Web site that chronicles dying and dead shopping malls across the country.

"Southwyck was a wonderful community meeting place at one time and the potential is there for things to happen out there again," he said.

Dillin Dillin
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The mix the developer is going after is very attainable, said area commercial real estate agents, because it appears Southwyck will not be competing with higher-end retail locations such as Town Center at Levis Commons in Perrysburg and Westfield Franklin Park in west Toledo.

"What he's doing makes a lot of sense," said Duke Wheeler, a retail specialist for CB Richard Ellis, Reichle Klein in Maumee.

Key to luring the smaller retailers, he added, will be securing a signed lease with national retail chain Dillard's.

"The anchor would help spur the interest from smaller retailers," Mr. Wheeler said.

After a speech yesterday at the monthly meeting of the Toledo Area Small Business Association at the Toledo Club, Mr. Dillin said he is positive Dillard's will commit to the Southwyck project, as it has said it would. The department store also is to go in the nearby Shops at Fallen Timbers.

"We've always anticipated they would be successful," he said, adding the two projects will be able to coexist because Southwyck is geared at a different type of customer.

"We are interested in what the needs are of the citizen who lives within a five-mile radius of Southwyck," Mr. Dillin said. By contrast, the Levis Commons project is expected to draw from a 45-mile radius.

He is encouraged by meetings at recent conventions with about three dozen retailers who had once been in Southwyck and are interested in returning once the center is transformed, he said.

It's too early for specifics on stores, he said. He did not want to comment on stores identified in the merchandising plan.

"It's very possible [the plan] will change, but it's representative of the types of tenants we are pursuing," he said.

The proposed stores are a good mix, said Pete Shawaker, a principal with Michael Realty Co.

The development should get solid stores, he said, because of the number of people with good incomes within five miles, access to major streets, and the likely lower rent.

Southwyck is in a developed area of the city, so rent likely won't be too high, he added.

Borders, for example, will likely be drawn to Southwyck if it "looks nice, is safe, and is a benefit to the community," he said.

Contact Mary-Beth McLaughlin at

mmclaughlin@theblade.com

or 419-724-6199.



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