Wednesday, February 1st, 2012
By Christine Henderson
Chain store plans Celina location
Sporting goods
  CELINA - Dunham's Sports, an athletic equipment and apparel store, plans to open in late June at the former Walmart site.
Senior vice president John Palmer said the store will use about 35,000 square feet, approximately half the unoccupied building in the Lakewood Village Shopping Center off Havemann Road. Twenty to 35 full- and part-time workers will be employed.
The retailer sells a full line of sporting goods, including exercise and athletic equipment, hunting, fishing and camping gear and brand apparel and shoes.
When selecting a new site, Dunham's officials look in secondary and tertiary markets at former Walmart locations after that retailer relocates, Palmer said. Celina was attractive because it is a county seat and has a good retail center in the area, he added.
Dunham's Sports, the Midwest's largest sporting goods chain, was founded in 1937 as a bait and tackle store, according to the company website. Headquartered in Waterford, Mich., it has grown into a full-line sporting goods chain serving customers in 12 states from Minnesota to Maryland with more than 160 stores.
Celina Venture LLC of Winnetka, Ill., owner of the former Walmart, will remodel the building for its new tenant, Palmer said.
"Dunham's will have a new storefront, reflecting its image," he added.
In fact, Celina Venture is hoping to make $1 million in renovations to lure two retailers into the 68,900-square-foot building, Jared Ebbing, Mercer County economic development director, stated earlier. The work would include facade updates and a new roof.
Mercer County Commissioners at the end of 2011 applied for a $450,000 Economic Development Grant through the state's Community Development Block Grant program to give Celina Venture a revolving loan. The local government does not have enough money in its revolving loan account. If the state approves the grant, Mercer County would receive the company's repayment funds, Ebbing said this morning.
After a first grant application review, the state requested more information. The county officials have responded, and they are now waiting for the state's decision on the loan, Ebbing said this morning.
The building owner needs the loan to make the improvements required by the incoming business, Ebbing said.
If one business moves into the space, it will encourage another retailer to select the site, Ebbing was told by the building owner. The loan is not tied to any second retailer, he said.
A representative of Celina Venture could not be reached for comment this morning.
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