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Published: Monday, 3/24/2014 - Updated: 8 months ago

Stores didn't come, so previous retail project never happened at Costco site in Perrysburg

BY MATT THOMPSON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
This horse farm near State Rt. 25 and Eckel Junction was the site of a large retail project in 2007, but the shopping center never came about because stores would not sign up. Now the property is proposed for a Costco store. This horse farm near State Rt. 25 and Eckel Junction was the site of a large retail project in 2007, but the shopping center never came about because stores would not sign up. Now the property is proposed for a Costco store.
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The Costco project in Perrysburg, headed this week for approval by local officials, comes seven years after a larger shopping complex was approved for the same site near the southeast corner of State Rt. 25 and Eckel Junction Road.

Zoning and project approval was granted for an 80,000-square foot building and three 30,000-square foot structures which were trying to attract a J.C. Penney store, Jo-Ann Fabric, and other retailers, and possibly a hotel. But, the beginning of the downturn in the economy just before the Great Recession in 2008 and the arrival of the Shops at Fallen Timbers in Maumee in 2007 led to the developer walking away from what was called the Perrysburg Point project.

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The past and current development proposals show how valuable the horse farm property is. It has frontage along I-475.

"It is a great site, great visibility," said Greg Barrow, vice president of construction services of Visconsi Co. Ltd., a developer from suburban Cleveland. "We had a lot of initial interest (from retailers)." 

The 28-acre site upon which Costco has proposed building a 154,300-square foot store, a 16-pump gas station, and 720 parking spaces is slated for action on a needed special use permit at a 6:30 p.m meeting today of the Perrysburg City Council. Council members have indicated support for the plan, even though some nearby residents and business owners have expressed concerns about the added traffic congestion and possible negative affects on their property values.

The city Planning Commission is expected to act at 7 p.m. meeting Thursday on Costco's final site plan. It approved a preliminary site plan late last year, and the final plan includes few changes. The plans shows two outlets on Eckel Junction upon which there could be a bank and fast-foot restaurant.

Besides the added traffic the store would bring, Costco has proposed relocating a natural-gas pipeline which runs across the property and upon which the pipeline operator, Columbia Gas Transmissions, has said there can be no structure or parking lot above it. Costco's latest plan shows the pipeline being rerouted around the parking lot, but the pipeline operator has said no agreement to do so has been reached.

In 2005, a similar large retail project was proposed for the site and in 2007 it received needed approvals. Visconsi had the land rezoned in 2004, before it was annexed from Perrysburg Township into the city of Perrysburg. The zoning changed from residential, industrial, and commercial business zoning to C-3 highway business district.

In June, 2007, a preliminary site plan was approved for four retail buildings on the property to house some big-box stores and some smaller stores, plus five outlets. Altogether, the site was to have 200,000 square feet of retail and nearly 1,000 parking spaces. 

Rick Thielen, former Perrysburg planning and zoning administrator, said he remembers a J.C. Penney's, Jo-Ann Fabric, and smaller stores were proposed for the site. He said there was a Hampton Inn hotel interested. Mr. Barrow did not say what stores had strong interests.

The underground gas line wasn't an issue, as an agreement was reached by Visconsi with Columbia Gas Transmissions to reroute the line, Mr. Barrow said. 

"We worked it out," he said. "It was surprisingly not all that expensive.

He mentioned traffic concerns, but said provisions were made to handle traffic. The Planning Commission minutes from the June, 2007 meeting state that traffic was a large concern for residents and commission members.

The project fell apart, however, because needed retailers would not commit to the site. Shops at Fallen Timbers was under construction in 2006 and opened in October, 2007. Plus, the national recession began in 2008 and national retailers were jittery about agreeing to put stores in new projects.

"The retailers did not come together for the site," Mr. Barrow said. "It's like you invite people to a party and no one shows up."

Contact Matt Thompson at: mthompson@theblade.com, 419-356-8786, or on Twitter at @mthompson25.



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