By Shelley Grieshop
Celina city officials say they have been working closely with Menards, a national home improvement chain that will likely open a store on Havemann Road west of Wal-Mart.
"It looks very, very favorable," city Safety-Service Director Jeff Hazel said of the deal between the city, the land developer and Menards. "We're certainly excited to have them."
Hazel said there are a few "hoops" to get through yet and cautioned the deal was not definite.
"The issue is slated to go to the planning commission in April," he said. If approved, the store will fill the largest remaining lot in the Harbor Square development area.
Some zoning issues and decisions such as the placement of signs are being worked out and final construction plans have not yet been drafted, Hazel said. Preliminary plans are for the chain store to face the roadway; the start of an entry drive already is in place. Hazel said city officials met with representatives from R.G. Development and Menards a few weeks ago to iron out remaining obstacles.
A spokeswoman from Menards corporate office in Wisconsin was not able to confirm the negotiations at deadline today.
Assistant Developer Mimi Fisher of R.G. Development, based in Columbus, opted not to disclose the "large user" they are negotiating with for "Lot C," the 13.83 acres of land between Wal-Mart Supercenter and Crown Equipment Corp.
"We expect to make an announcement in 30 to 45 days," Fisher said.
Before the land was developed, a site plan used by city officials included the name "Home Depot," leaving speculation the home improvement store giant might fill the large lot. But Hazel said the name was just an example of the type of store officials hoped would be attracted.
The Menard Company is the third-largest home improvement chain store in the U.S. behind Home Depot and Lowe's, with 210 stores mainly in the Northwest region of the country. President and CEO John Menard Jr. founded the company in 1972. Unlike its bigger competitors, Menards boasts a full-service lumberyard.
The Menard Company employs 35,000 workers across the country. Currently, the closest Menards store to the Grand Lake area is located in Lima.
Fisher said there also has been considerable interest in the three smaller lots in Harbor Square along Havemann Road. Several restaurants and other retail stores have inquired about the open lots that span about 1.3 acres each, but no contracts have yet been signed, she said.
Wal-Mart Supercenter, the anchor store in the development, opened its doors May 11 with 400 employees -- 235 more workers than it employed when it operated the store across the road. Murphy USA, a gas station that typically accompanies the Supercenters, opened simultaneously.
Rent-A-Center, Fiesta Salon and Shoe Show all followed Wal-Mart from the north side of the road and have settled in the strip mall beside the Supercenter with Cato, the UPS store and Radio Shack.
Bob Evans Restaurant also abandoned their former site on East Market Street and opened its doors in Harbor Square near the four-lane highway in September.