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Published: Tuesday, 5/9/2006

Plans unveiled for Southwyck

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

The man converting Southwyck Shopping Center into a retail, office, and residential complex said yesterday he has signed his first major tenant for the project.

Stautzenberger College, a private business school on Southwyck Boulevard next to the mall, will move to the 40,000-square-foot former Lion for the Home store, which will be renovated next year, said Larry Dillin, president of Dillin Corp.

"It brings a core group of people and customers back to the center each day," Mr. Dillin said of the school's 1,000 students.

Holding a news conference at the mall's center court yesterday that featured Mayor Carty Finkbeiner and several members of Toledo City Council, Mr. Dillin said Dillard's department stores, which co-owns Southwyck with Kansas City businessman Sherman Dreiseszun, hasn't agreed to stay at the mall.

But, "I do believe Dillard's will be in the project," Mr. Dillin said. The retailer's chairman, Bill Dillard, indicated only the need to renovate his company's store at the mall on Reynolds Road at Glendale Avenue.

Redevelopment will start by year's end and will cost $100 million to $150 million. Mr. Dillin said the former Montgomery Ward on the south side and the theater complex on the east or front side of the mall will be demolished.

Built will be several new stores, including a south-end anchor, all as an outdoor center.

The center will be called the Village at Southwyck. Some, said Mr. Dillin, who developed Perrysburg's Town Center at Levis Commons in 2004, wanted to dump the Southwyck name because it is associated with the struggling mall. But the name had historical value, so it was kept, he explained.

A first phase will include the renovations along with construction of 300,000 square feet that will include a 140,000-square-foot anchor store and 11 buildings for retail and office space. To be ready by fall, 2007, the retail center will be village-like with a large center fountain, a pavilion, and a clock tower.

A second phase calls for 400,000 square feet of retail in the rear of the center, and a third phase calls for residential buildings. Mr. Dillin said that an overwhelming demand for retail and office space could alter how much of those units are built.

The developer met with Southwyck's retailers yesterday to explain his construction timetable and plan to relocate some of them. Phil Kacja, owner of J. Foster Jewelers at Southwyck, said he likes the proposed concept. "We want to stay here and be part of the redevelopment. It makes sense."

More than 20 former Southwyck retailers have been contacted about returning to the mall, and Mr. Dillin said he is courting several potential anchor stores. Hill Partners Inc., the retail specialist involved in securing tenants for Levis Commons, will not be involved with Southwyck.

But the biggest search for tenants will occur May 21-25 at the International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas. Mr. Dillin has several days of meetings there to try to persuade retailers to join Southwyck. Retailers are looking for community enthusiasm about the project, he said, and he wanted to outline the plan first to avoid speculation while he was in Las Vegas.

Dillin Corp. will build and finance the project.

If done properly, the project could rejuvenate business all along Reynolds Road from the Ohio Turnpike to Airport Highway, Mr. Dillin said. He has proposed amenities along Reynolds Road including landscaping and decorative lighting.

"When you travel through there the area should stand out," he said.

Contact Jon Chavez at:

jchavez@theblade.com

or 419-724-6128.



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