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It's been nearly two years since Spartan Stores Inc. began dismantling and eventually selling its former Food Town supermarket chain. Most of its 45 stores have new uses, but 11 are still closed.
Though all are on well-traveled roads, no retailer has found them desirable enough.
"Frankly, I'm surprised it's taken this long," said Dave Long, a commercial real estate agent with CB Richard Ellis/Reichle Klein in Maumee.
"The locations are presenting themselves," he said. "However, getting someone to pull the trigger is another story."
He negotiated a deal last year to fill a vacant Food Town site on Monroe Street, and has a non-grocery retailer looking next week at some of the remaining vacant sites.
Pete Shawaker, a partner at Michael Realty Co., said two landlords he represents want to fill the empty sites with non-grocery retailers.
Spartan is paying rent on some of the remaining empty Food Towns. Mark Zyndorf, owner of the former 23,000-square foot Food Town building in the Golden Gate Plaza shopping center in Maumee, said the space is too small for most new-style groceries but too big for mom-and-pop stores.
So, we're looking at any type of retail tenant that would make sense," he said.
Spartan wouldn't mind sub-leasing the space, but not to a tenant that would compete with its Pharm discount drugstore in the same plaza, which limits the options, Mr. Zyndorf said.
The vacant stores are at 3045 West Alexis Rd., 2600 Sylvania Ave., 3324 Secor Rd., 5860 Lewis Ave., and 1207 N. Reynolds Rd. in Toledo; 105 Golden Gate Plaza in Maumee; 3010 Navarre Avenue in Oregon; 4662 Woodville Rd. in Northwood; 132 East South Boundary in Perrysburg; 1080 South Main St. in Bowling Green; and 265 Benedict Ave. in Norwalk.
In all, they have nearly 550,000 square feet. For supermarkets, that represents potentially plenty of sales dollars. Food Town had an average of $300 a square foot in annual sales, so the 11 closed stores could represent about $165 million in sales, experts said.
But experts said another grocery chain buying those sites now seems unlikely.
The only grocer that might look at some sites, Mr. Shawaker said, is Giant Eagle, which has two local stores.
He said it is "pretty phenomenal" there are just 11 empty Food Town stores, considering there were 39 operating in February, 2003 when Spartan decided to close 13 and dispose of the remainder.
Deals last year put a Hobby Lobby store into the site at 5329 Monroe St. and a hardware store in the one at 6750 Sylvania Ave.
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