By Lance Mihm
ST. MARYS -- The former Big Bear store in St. Marys will house a new grocery sometime after the first of the year, a building owner said this week.
Ken Arps of Celina, one of three partners of SBA Realty, said basic maintenance and repair work is currently being conducted to prepare the building for opening.
"There will be a grocery store in the location," Arps said. "We are currently negotiating to get a store open."
Arps would not identify a single company or chain in negotiations or one committed at this point to move into the building. But he did say his firm is still open to other interested offers.
There are several other groceries apparently looking to locate in St. Marys, which currently has only one store, Chief's in the St. Marys Square. Giant Eagle, a chain of independently owned and operated grocery stores in the Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland area, is looking at the possibility of putting a store in the St. Marys area. However, a company official said they had not looked at the former Big Bear site, located along Celina Road.
Wally Wagner, owner of Wagner's IGA stores in Minster and Fort Loramie, reported in June that he had made an offer on the former Big Bear building, but had not heard back from them. Wagner still had not heard from SBA, he told The Daily Standard in a telephone interview this morning.
A Kroger grocery also may be the anchor store of a new commercial and residential development being planned for fall 2005 on the southwest corner of U.S. 33 and state Route 66.