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Thursday, October 11th, 2007

Lowe's coming to town

By Shelley Grieshop
Groundbreaking for a new Lowe's home improvement store in Wapakoneta likely will begin early next year, local officials say.
Wapakoneta city officials are excited about the prospect of the chain store to be built on the site of the former Big Bear store, which closed its doors in 2004. Lowe's should draw more traffic to the community and help boost retail dollars, said Greg Myers, executive director of the Wapakoneta Area Economic Development Council.
"For Wapakoneta and all of Auglaize County, Lowe's will provide a source for home improvement products, something currently in short supply," Myers said.
Myers said the city, with a population of about 9,500 residents, boasted three lumber yards at one time, but now has none. The addition of Lowe's will not only fill that void but could draw the interest of other businesses looking for supplies to build and operate a new plant, he said.
Currently, the closest Lowe's stores to the Grand Lake area are in Lima, Sidney, Troy and Greenville. Another home improvement chain store, Menard's, is actively under construction in Celina along Havemann Road.
Lowe's opened 155 stores across the U.S. in 2006 and plans to open an additional 150-160 stores during 2007, spokeswoman Maureen A. Rich told The Daily Standard. Although local officials have confirmed Lowe's intention to build on the former Big Bear site along Bellefontaine Street, Rich did not. She said it is company policy not to announce such news until all real estate actions are finalized, and she said the Wapakoneta one is not.
According to Myers, the intention of Lowe's officials is to demolish the current 50,000 to 60,000-square-foot building and construct a 111,000-square-foot store - twice the size of the original structure. The footage does not include Lowe's garden center, he added.
Lowe's officials were given the green light for the project months ago after approval by the city planning commission and the board of zoning appeals for signage and parking issues, Myers said.
The new Lowe's will be sandwiched in the busy business district along Interstate 75, on the same side of the street as the Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum.
Myers said his office continues to work to draw businesses to the three major districts in the city: the Grandview Plaza on the north end, the Bellefontaine Street area and downtown.
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