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Published: Tuesday, 10/3/2006

Westgate merchants in midst of space race

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Natalie Vostelman and owner John DuVall pack for Honey I'm Home's move from Westgate to Westfield Franklin Park. Natalie Vostelman and owner John DuVall pack for Honey I'm Home's move from Westgate to Westfield Franklin Park.
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John DuVall built his home decor business, Honey I'm Home, in the cozy confines of the Westgate Village Shopping Center in West Toledo.

But as a $35 million redevelopment of the 50-year-old retail complex moves forward, Mr. DuVall said it became clear to him that his business future lay elsewhere.

With the addition of a Costco store to Westgate, the center will become a destination for many grocery shoppers.

But Mr. DuVall said he believes most customers seeking leisure and lifestyle merchandise will head to Westfield Franklin Park, prompting his decision to sign on with a new strip center to be built nearby, on Sylvania Avenue at Talmadge Road.

Most of Westgate's retailers, however, have tried hard to stay in the Secor Road-Central Avenue vicinity.

Vicky Johnson prepares for a move from Papaya Island.
Vicky Johnson prepares for a move from Papaya Island.
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Joe Belinske, a principal with Michael Realty Co. in Toledo, has helped relocate a half-dozen Westgate tenants. "They all have told me, 'Keep us as close as you possibly can to Westgate,'•" he said. "But their choice of spaces was somewhat limited."

Rite Aid, Barry Bagels, Fiesta Hair and Tanning, and Stein Mart are to be in space in the redeveloped Westgate.

Gen's Hallmark, Radio Shack, and H&R Block have filled all available space in a new 8,500-square-foot center on Secor in front of Elder-Beerman.

"If that strip center was three times as big as it is, I'd have still filled it," Mr. Belinske said. "Besides that new plaza, space around the Secor Road area was minimal."

Some retailers found spots on the east side of Secor in the Westgate Town Center Plaza where a former Food Town store was located. Port Royal Cigars moved to the site, and Stone Computer is negotiating to take the recently closed Hollywood Video location there.

"We aren't sure how soon it will happen," said Jerry Dai, Stone's sales manager. "But the bottom line is we have to move. Westgate does not have space for us."

Leo Marks Jewelers bought the vacant Wendy's at Secor and Executive Parkway and is converting it to a new store.

Bassett's Health Food store previously had moved to the MC Sports plaza on Secor, and the Walking Fit shoe store and the Red Sky Surf & Snow shop both moved to nearby Cricket West Shopping Center on Central Avenue.

Terry Declercq, Westgate's general manager, said Frames Unlimited is still negotiating for new space in the redeveloped Westgate, and plans of two other retailers, American Cellular and Papaya Island gifts, are unknown.

Rocky's tavern was seeking a site on Secor Road, and the Lee Nails shop was seeking space near the mall, but the status of both was unclear.

Duke Wheeler, a commercial retail specialist at CB Richard Ellis/Reichle Klein in Maumee, said he helped relocate several Westgate retailers but nearby sites under 4,000 square feet were extremely limited, causing rents in the area to jump.

Some retailers were forced, reluctantly, to move out of the Westgate trade area. "One tried real hard to find something nearby but couldn't," Mr. Wheeler said.

One for which that was true was Superior Chocolates, which was in the arcade section of Westgate. Owner Brenda Reynolds said she rented a kiosk in the Dillard's wing of Franklin Park.

Her lease at the mall runs through October, and after that she isn't sure what she'll do. "We need a store on that side of town, so for the short term we'll get a feel for the kiosk and see how it goes," she said.

Staying in Westgate "would have meant my rent would have been 3 1/2 times what it is now," she said.

Others that have gone or are going: The Vineyard Wine Shop, moving to Monroe Street and Nantucket Drive; Coney Island restaurant, which moved to Sterns Road in Lambertville; Hardware Unlimited, which moved to Monroe Street east of Secor, near Kroger; Allied Record Exchange, headed to Central Avenue at McCord Road; and New York Collection apparel, which is moving to Dorr Street near Secor.

Contact Jon Chavez at:

jchavez@theblade.com

or 419-724-6128.



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