CenterMark to Bring Save-A-Lot to Akron’s Summit Lake Neighborhood








From the Akron Beacon Journal

Summit Lake can add yet another item to its growing list of recent investments — a full-service grocery store.

A Save-A-Lot is planned for an empty building that once housed an Acme Express drugstore and a Kroger grocery store, but has sat vacant for many years. The 16,200-square-foot building is at 25 W. Miller Ave., at Old Main Street.

City officials hailed the development as another victory in the attempt to revitalize the struggling Summit Lake area that has long been without a grocery store or easy access to fresh foods.

“This is a big deal for residents in the Summit Lake area,” said Margo Sommerville, the councilwoman for Ward 3, which includes Summit Lake. “They live in a food desert.”

“I think this is a new beginning to it — bringing new life to Summit Lake,” she continued.

Akron City Council members were briefed on plans for the store Monday and are expected to vote on an agreement between the city and with Centermark Development, a University Heights development firm, next Monday.

Under the agreement, the city, which owns the building and a 0.55-acre property, would sell it to Centermark for $300,000, but then credit the company that amount for improvements to the building. Centermark plans to spend $500,000 refurbishing the building before handing it over to Save-A-Lot, Mark Jablonski, president of Centermark, told council members.

Centermark will be the developer, owner and manager of the building, leasing it to Save-A-Lot, which has committed to a 10-year lease. Jablonski said this will be the grocer’s first decade-long lease for a refurbishment project.

“That speaks well to the commitment for the project,” Jablonski said. “They obviously feel strongly about the pent-up demand for groceries in this area.”

Akron will grant Centermark an easement to city-owned parking adjacent to the building, which the company will maintain, said Adele Roth, Akron’s development manager.

Jablonski said the project will be the 20th for his company, which specializes in urban redevelopment, and the first in Akron.

The Akron store will offer a full line of groceries, including fresh fruits and vegetables and an on-site butcher, and will employ 17 full- and part-time employees.

Centermark is hoping to close on the building by June 1 and complete renovations by the first of November, with Save-A-Lot expected to open by the end of this year or early next year, Jablonski said.

Akron has been aggressively marketing the building since October 2012, offering up to a $300,000 credit — the purchase price of the building — for renovations. The city bought the building in 1998 in a deal involving banking land for future development. Acme Express, a unit of the Fred W. Albrecht Grocery Co. in Akron, closed in the late 1990s.

The grocery store is the latest of several developments in Summit Lake, including the $4.35 million Summit Lake Family Opportunity Center, which will offer kindergarten classes and other programs, and a $350,000 investment by Akron in its community center.

“When you look at the need for retailers, a grocery store is No. 1,” Roth said. “It creates an anchor for the neighborhood.”

Roth and Jablonski are hoping the grocery store will attract other retail to the area, such as a restaurant, dry cleaner or nail salon, north of the store’s parking lot on Long Street. Jabolonski said a grocery store often attracts other retail.


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