If 2001 was the year of the supermarket, expect 2002 to be the year of the home-improvement store for the Toledo-area retail scene.
Ten supermarkets opened in the metro Toledo area last year, increasing by 15 percent the amount of grocery space in town.
This year, local experts say, expect 500,000 to 1 million square feet of retail to be finished or under construction, with more than half of it home-improvement stores.
``The retail scene is going through a transition. Franklin Park Mall will have a new anchor sometime later this year, Southwyck Shopping Center will have new anchors this year, and for North Towne Square, we'll go to a funeral,'' said local commercial retail expert Steve Serchuk.
Lowe's, the nation's No. 2 home-improvement retailer, is the area's big entrant. It's building a store on Central Avenue near Percentum Road in Sylvania Township, negotiating for the former Cub Foods site on Airport Highway near Reynolds Road, and working with developers to secure the former Ames store on Alexis Road and a site on State Rt. 20 near the Crossroads of America shopping plaza in Rossford.
``I think we'll see ... one Lowe's, probably two, maybe three in 2002,'' Mr. Serchuk said.
Home Depot is negotiating for a site on Navarre Avenue in Oregon for its fifth area store, and Menard's, an Eau Claire, Wis., home improvement chain is negotiating for a site on Airport Highway near McCord Road.
``I don't know if we need it all,'' said Dave Long, a retail expert with CB Richard Ellis, Reichle Klein, a commercial real estate firm in Springfield Township.
``Lowe's is a little different from Home Depot because 45 per cent of their shoppers are women, and Home Depot caters more to contractors,'' he said.
Don Weiher, a principle partner at Michael Realty Co., a Toledo commercial real estate firm, thinks 1 million square feet of retail will be added this year.
Despite well-publicized losses, such as the bankruptcy of Ames department stores in August, the closing of CVS stores announced in December, and the bankruptcies in January of Jacobson's department stores and Kmart Corp., ``Last year was one of the most productive years for new construction since the 1980s and retail was the bright spot of all the major uses for land as far as the commercial sector goes,'' Mr. Weiher said.
Other retailers are expected expand this year. Kohl's is adding a store on State Rt. 20, and Meijer's is expected to go forward with a store near Kohl's, Mr. Weiher said.
The Ames site on W. Central Avenue at Holland-Sylvania Road in Sylvania Township may become a Farmer Jack and Wal-Mart, Mr. Weiher said. Wal-Mart plans to add stores in Oregon and Bedford Township, if it gets approval.
Kroger is the only grocery chain that will open a store, on Alexis Road near Lewis Avenue, in 2002, Mr. Serchuk said.
Besides big-box developments like Lowe's, Kohl's, or Wal-Mart, the local experts said, 2002 should find smaller spaces filled next to large retailers in strip centers.
Most notable among mid-size retailers building a store and searching for more sites is Petco, a San Diego pet supplies chain, Mr. Serchuk said. It is building a 40,000-square foot store in the Springfield Commons shopping center on Holland-Sylvania Road at Airport Highway.
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