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Published: Saturday, 4/30/2005

Levis Commons received warmly in its first 6 months


SIX MONTHS after the Toledo area welcomed its first retail "lifestyle" shopping complex, the $55 million Town Center at Levis Commons in Perrysburg appears to be doing well.

The 319,000 square feet of shops, restaurants, and office space laid out in a faux town square setting was greeted eagerly during the holidays. The center has 31 stores and restaurants.

"The fashion and general retailers there, they're very happy," said Dave Long, a retail specialist with CB Richard Ellis/Reichle Klein in Maumee.

"With the food retailers, Biaggi's [Ristorante Italiano] is off the charts. They're doing so well, you can't get a seat. It's a tough problem to have, but a good problem to have."

Mr. Long has looked at the center's sales figures and said the stores each have sales above $400 a square foot, comparable to stores at Westfield Shoppingtown Franklin Park in Toledo. One clothing store at Levis Commons is averaging nearly $1,200 a square foot, he added, declining to name the store.

Project developer Larry Dillin said business has remained strong since the late-w October opening of the center on 35 acres along State Rte. 25 next to the I-475/U.S. 23 interchange.

"Actually, we're doing better than expected," he said, noting 90 percent of the store sites are filled. "We're above industry norms by a considerable amount and the volume at the restaurants, which is the best thing to measure, has just been phenomenal."

Several employees of various retailers at Levis Commons confirmed that customer traffic has been strong. One store manager said the number of shoppers seems to

be higher in the morning and early afternoon than later in the day, even though stores are open until 9 p.m.

Pete Shawaker, a retail specialist and partner at Michael Realty Co. of Toledo, said the morning shopping influx isn't surprising, given the makeup of the Perrysburg area.

" It's a high-income area, and there's a lot of women in the Perrysburg area who don't work and like buying nice things," he said, referring to U.S. Census information.

"They're the ones buying at those stores," he added.

Levis Commons plans a second phase of more boutiques and other retailers, but an announcement this month may be delayed because deals are being worked out with potential tenants, Mr. Dillin said.

His overall development includes condominiums and houses, which are under construction. He said he is planning events for the outdoor space in the center, including concerts and an art fair this summer.

As for the expanded Franklin Park mall opening this week, Mr. Dillin said that could help, not hurt, his shopping destination.

The reason, he explained, is that some retailers have told him that, if their stores in the mall do well enough, they might consider opening in Perrysburg.

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