Upscale future for Falls plaza
The State Road Plaza’s future has solid footing and a real optimism looking to the future!
An upscale shopping center and housing development may soon replace the dilapidated State Road Shopping Center.
The development, called Portage Crossing, was announced at a news conference by Cuyahoga Falls officials at the city’s Natatorium on Thursday.
Last fall, the city bought the plaza at State Road and Portage Trail from State Road Associates for $10.2 million.
Cuyahoga Falls Development Director Susan Truby said the dilapidated shopping center was ”truly the black eye of our city.”
What will replace it will be a neighborhood marketplace that is walkable, unique and community-focused, officials said.
The first phase of the project will include about $30 million to $35 million in investment into a retail area that will be anchored by an upscale grocery store and several smaller retail or restaurant establishments.
It will be much smaller in total retail size at 150,000 square feet than the 300,000 square feet that the plaza once held.
Unlike the current plaza, which faces State Road, the new development will face Portage Trail, which also will get some improvements such as parallel parking, colored concrete and greenery to make it clear that it will be an area to slow down, Truby said. State Road along the new development will be turned into a boulevard with trees lining the middle.
The grocery store, which will be an anchor tenant, will have traditional parking and entrances. The grocery store will be 60,000 square feet and the space is expandable to 90,000 square feet.
The retail establishments along Portage Trail will have their entrances on the main street, which will encourage people to get out of their cars and walk around and even walk across Portage Trail to the other side of the development, which also will have retail.
‘‘It’s been a long time coming for the community,’‘ said Falls Mayor Don Robart. ”I think in the end, they’re going to be very, very pleased and excited about the quality and the product.”
Additional phases of the project, which could total $60 million, could be another retail phase or townhomes flanking both ends of the retail area, but will be dependent upon the economy improving.
The developer for the project will be Cleveland-based Stark Enterprises and its Chief Executive Officer Robert L. Stark. Stark has developed such projects as Crocker Park in Westlake and several in the Akron-area, including West Market Plaza, the Shops at Fairlawn and the Strip in Jackson Township.
Stark said building designs and green space areas will be like Crocker Park.
An agreement has yet to be penned with Stark, and a lot of the details will be hammered out in the next three to four months before it must go in front of City Council for approval. But Robart said Stark has been a strong supporter of the city and is committed to the project. Stark also has been working with the city as a consultant to come up with a master plan to address the revitalization of the downtown area, which the mayor said will look more like Crocker Park than the State Road project.
Robart said he doesn’t see Portage Crossing as a regional draw, but serving the residents of the general area.
By Betty Lin-Fisher
Beacon Journal business writer