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Cinemark, Menards, new Get-Go all strong possibilities for Cuyahoga Falls area

By Betty Lin-Fisher
Beacon Journal business writer

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CUYAHOGA FALLS: Cinemark is close to bringing a movie theater to Portage Crossing, Menards is in negotiations to take over the current Giant Eagle spot when the grocer moves to the new development and a Get-Go gas station is proposed for a spot currently operating as a gas station, Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart confirmed Monday.

In a wide-ranging interview, Robart said he didn’t have final confirmations, but before the holidays there were many pieces close to being finalized for the projects around State, Portage and Graham roads.

Ten days to two weeks ago, Robart said, Cinemark and Stark Enterprises, the developer of the Portage Crossing retail site, were “very, very close to finalizing that deal. It could be finalized by now.”

Reached by phone Monday, Stark Enterprises Chief Operating Officer Steve Rubin said he couldn’t comment on any of the information from Robart, “but hopefully will shortly. We are working very hard on the project and there are lots of moving pieces.”

The major moving pieces started in November, when it was reported Stark and the city were unable to negotiate with the owner of the land occupied by Pizza Hut to make room for the proposed Menards home improvement store to co-anchor Portage Crossing with Giant Eagle.

Robart at the time said that did not mean the retailer was leaving the area.

City officials and Stark instead brought a proposal to City Council to amend the Portage Crossing sales agreement to include a movie theater, but no further details were given. City officials then asked council to table the Portage Crossing proposal.

Robart said that while delays and changes in the proposals for Portage Crossing have been frustrating for residents and city officials, “every time we’ve had a setback, the end result is positive.”

“With Cinemark, not only do I think a movie theater would be excellent there, it would attract restaurants we had not anticipated before. People will go to dinner and a movie,” he said.

Previously announced restaurants and eateries, including Food Network chef Michael Symon’s B Spot Restaurant, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, are still in, Robart said.

Once it was clear Menards would not fit in the Portage Crossing spot, Cinemark was one of the first businesses the project went after, Robart said.

“They had expressed some interest before, and we really didn’t have room for them. When the decision was made to move Menards to where Giant Eagle is vacating, we took another look-see, and they were very anxious to pursue it,” he said.

10 screens expected

According to city documents, the movie theater would be a 37,000-square-foot building. Robart said it would be a 10-screen complex.

“I think it’s going to be a huge plus,” he said. “I think a movie theater is needed in our town. We don’t have one.”

The closing of Plaza Cinemas in Akron in the Howe Avenue area is coincidental and had nothing to do with the Cinemark theater, Robart said. The landlord of the eight-screen Plaza Cinemas wanted to find another use for the property, regional chain Cleveland Cinemas said.

Still in the works is getting Menards to the current Giant Eagle spot on Graham Road, Robart said.

“Menards has got an excellent shot at being there. That’s not finished,” he said. But discussions include razing the existing grocery store once the grocer moves to the new Portage Crossing and building a one-story store instead of the two-story store that had been proposed for Portage Crossing, he said.

Stark Enterprises is looking at some land behind the existing grocery store to accommodate the store and parking.

Additionally, the existing Giant Eagle Get-Go gas station would move to Portage and State roads, where an existing Marathon gas station operates.

Amarjit Singh, owner of the Marathon station, confirmed Monday night that the parties are in negotiations.

Giant Eagle spokesman Dan Donovan said given the New Year’s holiday and staffing at corporate offices, the grocer could not confirm any information Robart had given.

Calls and emails to Cinemark and Menards officials were not returned.

On the Cinemark website Monday, Cuyahoga Falls is not listed under “future theater openings,” but is still visible in a cached, or old version, of the website from Dec. 18 as “Cuyahoga Falls, Cuyahoga Falls 10.”

Robart said he wouldn’t speculate on dates for the beginning of construction or opening for Portage Crossing because there are always changes, but said he is as eager as city residents to see it come to fruition.

“I’m really more optimistic than ever. I certainly feel the anxiety on the part of the residents. They want to see something, and I do, too. That project is going to be there for 50 to 75 years. It’s very important we hit the thing right on the mark. I think right now we are,” he said.

Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or blinfisher@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blinfisher and see all her stories at www.ohio.com/betty.