Development moves forward at Eastwood
By Burton Speakman
Retail expansion continues in the Valley as several new businesses near opening dates in Niles.
The new ULTA Beauty and Texas Roadhouse are scheduled to open in the early fall in the Eastwood Complex, said Joe Bell, spokesman for The Cafaro Co.
In addition, the Dairy Queen Grill and Chill across from Eastwood Mall is scheduled to open today.
The Men’s Wearhouse store opened in early June, Bell said. Another business in Eastwood, Shoe Department, is expanding into an adjacent space with its new concept store, Shoe Department Encore.
“They were able to get that store open a lot faster than expected,” he said.
Work also is ongoing at the Residence Inn by Marriott hotel and conference center at Eastwood Mall, Bell said.
“They’ll be putting up a lot of the outside framing over the next couple of weeks,” he said. “You’ll see a lot of rapid movement.”
The work will not be as noticeable when they move inside for finishing work, Bell said. The facility remains on track to open during the first quarter of 2014.
In the past few years, a number of retail companies had delayed expansion plans because of the recession, Bell said.
“Those plans are just now starting to come off the shelf and come to fruition,” he said. “Companies are ready to take some chances.”
These businesses are interested in retail space within the Valley because they understand how the local economy has evolved from the days of the steel industry, Bell said.
The trend of growing retail in the Valley is being matched throughout Ohio. In the past 12 to 24 months, businesses have invested more in retail growth as the economy has improved, said Gordon Gough, executive vice president of the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants.
In last year’s Christmas market study, researchers at the University of Cincinnati stated that despite the fact that income in Ohio was not increasing, people had more to spend, he said.
“People in Ohio had paid off so much debt that while they were shopping for gifts for their parents or children, they were also able to buy the leather jacket for themselves they had been putting off for a couple of years,” Gough said.
Increased retail in the Valley could at least to some degree be related to shale industries, he said.
“There are a number of people who have received large lease payments in eastern Ohio, and they’re looking for somewhere to spent that money,” Gough said.
In addition, the retail industry appears to be doing well nationally. Revenue at stores opened at least a year — an industry measure of a store’s health — increased 3.9 percent in June compared with the same month a year ago, according to a preliminary tally of 12 retailers by the International Council of Shopping Centers reported by the Associated Press. The mall trade group had expected an increase of 3 percent to 3.5 percent.
“The reports are encouraging,” said Michael P. Niemira, chief economist at the International Council of Shopping Centers. “We had seen consumers pull back a littler earlier this year, but now there’s a willingness to spend. It adds to the flavor of the other economic data out there that looks better.”
The retail news isn’t entirely good in Niles. One business is about to close at the Eastwood property.
The final day for Linens & More is today.
“Our people are in preliminary conversations with a few companies, but it could be some time before the building is filled,” Bell said.