By Shelley Grieshop
More than 315 new jobs have been created so far within the new businesses settling into the Harbor Square development in Celina.
The Wal-Mart Supercenter, which opened May 11, tops the list with most employees at approximately 400, up from a previous tally of 165 at its former store across the road.
The second largest employer in the development so far is Bob Evans Restaurant, set to open Sept. 19. The restaurant expects to employ about 120 workers, more than double than its present workforce of 54 at its current location at the corner of Market Street and Lake Shore Drive.
The restaurant will take the west half of a 3.72-acre lot in the far northeast corner of the development and will increase its size from 122 to 155 seats.
Two of the seven retail stores located to the east of the Wal-Mart Supercenter along U.S. 29 already have opened for business. The UPS Store on the far east side opened Aug. 1; Radio Shack, two doors down, opened July 18. All the businesses will be operating at their new locations by the end of September.
Three of the retail stores are moving to Harbor Square from across Havemann Road. Managers of all three -- Rent-A-Center, Fiesta Salon and Shoe Show -- said they will maintain their current employee count of five each. However, Fiesta Salon is looking to hire more beauticians to fill eight stations at the new store, Manager Deb Heckler said.
The UPS Store, GameStop and Cato are the new kids in the neighborhood, opening stores for the first time in this area. Cato spokeswoman Kerry Walter said the Cato Corporation is excited about its move into Celina.
"We're happy to come aboard and hope to fill a need in the area," Walter said.
Cato is a women's fashion and accessory retail store. The Cato Corporation includes Cato and It's Fashion stores. Cato will open the Celina store simultaneously with one in Kenton on Sept. 14, Walter said.
Cato operates 28 stores throughout Ohio.
GameStop officials did not return phone calls at press time. The retail store is located next to The UPS Store and sells video games, software and accessories.
Steve Speranza, a spokesman for R.G. Properties of Columbus, the developer of Harbor Square, said an "exciting announcement" could be coming in the next 4-6 weeks concerning other available lots surrounding the Wal-Mart Supercenter.
"All I can say right now is there are several exciting discussions going on with several big businesses," he said.
Speranza refused to comment on any negotiations for the large vacant lot -- 13.83 acres -- a site between the supercenter and Crown Equipment Corp.
The fate of the Lakewood Village Shopping Center across the road is up in the air for now following the exodus of its anchor, Wal-Mart, and the three smaller retail stores. City officials have, so far, been given no word from developers on possible plans for the shopping mall's future.
Kent Bryan, community development director for Celina, said the city is fortunate the former Wal-Mart store is nearby, even though it has been abandoned. Community leaders in other areas have told him it's not unusual for some shopping districts to fold when a Wal-Mart closes on one end of town and re-opens as a supercenter on another.
"In our case, the new supercenter can help attract another business to fill the abandoned building," Bryan said. "And let's hope it won't be too long."