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Published: Saturday, 5/31/2008

Retailers hedging on local bets

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Expect some minor changes to the Toledo retail scene in the next year, but don't expect any movement just yet on the soon-to-be closed Southwyck Shopping Center.

Commercial real estate experts and developers at an annual shopping center convention in Las Vegas last week said most retailers seemed cautious about making commitments until 2011 and local projects, while well received, didn't make much headway.

"People were optimistic out there. But in general I think the retailers have more developers and choices today because they are doing fewer stores than they have in the past," said Steve Serchuk, a retail expert with the Toledo office of Signature Associates.

Liz Holland of Abbell Credit Corp., owner of Toledo's Westgate Village Shopping Center in Toledo, said tighter lending is delaying many projects. Most thought the economy would turn around sometime next year, she said.

Dillin Corp. head Larry Dillin, who is trying to redevelop Southwyck, said the aging Toledo mall got lots of attention in Las Vegas, even though no tangible progress occurred. The center is to close by June 30.

"We had many more meetings than we've ever had on Southwyck. We had lots more interest in it, but again, the challenge is getting control of the property," Mr. Dillin said. He is trying to get one of the mall owners to sell its stake, and his plan is to tear down the center and rebuild a different shopping center.

Still, some deals took place, Mr. Serchuk said. Hobby Lobby, he said, agreed to a second area store to be located in Perrysburg Township near Best Buy.

National Amusements Inc., which had been offering its 13-acre vacant theater property on Secor Road for $7 million, used the convention to announce it also is selling its 13.8-acre Super Cinemas complex in Holland, which closed in April, for $4.8 million.

Contact Jon Chavez at:

jchavez@theblade.com

or 419-724-6128.



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