True Value Hardware will move into 13,010 square feet of space in the Reynoldsburg Center, taking over the space in the strip mall that has been vacant since Sears Hardware moved out four years ago.

True Value Hardware will move into 13,010 square feet of space in the Reynoldsburg Center, taking over the space in the strip mall that has been vacant since Sears Hardware moved out four years ago.

Development director Lucas Haire said the company's plans reflect a growing trend in Reynoldsburg to renovate and reuse of available retail space.

Haire said the city has just received permit applications from the nationwide hardware store chain plans to spend $150,000 on improvements at the site, with work possibly starting by late June. He said the company hopes to schedule a grand opening by Labor Day.

He said it's a good sign for Reynoldsburg to have True Value moving in and other businesses such as Massey's Pizza and Aarons recently locating in the center in the 7000 block of East Main Street.

"We don't have a lot of commercial development going on in terms of new buildings, but we have redevelopment and updating of older retail centers going on," Haire said. "Massey's opened in March in the old bank building out front. They made a significant investment in that building and rehabbed that and it was vacant for a number of years.

"Then Aarons, (a nationwide furniture and electronic sales and rental chain) took the space that was a former CVS Pharmacy and had been vacant since CVS built their new store, so there's a lot of momentum building there at the Reynoldsburg Center," Haire said.

Depending on how the space is divided, he said four or five tenant spaces remain in the strip mall.

Haire said the Reynoldsburg Center is unique because the Kroger store located there has been an anchor at the site for the past 50 years.

"For a number of years, it's been frustrating because I consider that center a prototype neighborhood shopping center," said Tom Schottenstein, whose family owns the Reynoldsburg Center. "It's surrounded by rooftops and it's looked like it's been distressed because there have been vacancies."

He said the the vacancies were actually rented spaces that were not occupied.

"So, some of those leases have come off and now we're able to rent to other tenants," Schottenstein said. "It's its showing up in a very difficult time, which shows an indication of the strength of the center and the location."

He said prospective tenants are interested in the 15,000 square feet left in the center and he is hopeful the spaces can be filled quickly.

"I'm thrilled about it. I think we have a perfect mix with the tenants there," he said. "Some have been there for years and we're just going to build on that."

Schottenstein said he could not identify what businesses might go in the vacant spaces but he said one might include a fitness studio.

"I have to tell you, I think the city deserves a tremendous amount of credit. We've worked in a number of different municipalities, and Reynoldsburg is the most business-friendly, pragmatic group we've ever worked with," Schottenstein said.

"They understand business and they don't try to put up hurdles and road blocks. I can't say enough about the group out there. They really work hard at trying to promote business, and, it's a partnership," he said.

Haire said the city has also been receiving compliments on renovations that are just about completed at the Stoney Creek Plaza in the 2000 block of state Route 256.

He said work began last year to install new shingle roofing, lighting, paint, landscaping, signs, sidewalks, and updated parking spaces.

"They really put a lot of money into that building and it has paid off for them at this point," Haire said.

Built in 1986, the retail strip mall complex is broken up into two sections, Haire said, and currently all spaces in the plaza are filled except one, a 1,140-square-foot space located at the northern end of Stoney Creek Plaza.

"This is the first renovations that have been made," he said. "With the new strip centers built across the street and with the quality of those buildings, they had to bring up the quality of theirs (The Stoney Creek Plaza) to attract good tenants and I think it has worked.

"It's a good building and it's got good visibility and they've made it very attractive," he said.

The newest tenant in the plaza is The Original Mattress Factory which opened about three weeks ago after moving from its former location south of I-70 on Brice Road. Haire said the company spent $35,000 on internal improvements.

Stoney Creek Plaza owner Brian Barker said the one vacant space left in the plaza has attracted interest from a diverse group of businesses so far, such as a jewelry store, a sushi restaurant and a sign company, but nothing is confirmed yet.

"The space itself is highly visible being right on the corner, and it's got two sides of windows, so it makes for a great space," Barker said.

He said the renovations are nearly complete and were done in an effort to make Stoney Creek Plaza look more contemporary.

"The old material on the roof had a block and metal kind of look to it, which is a harder, harsher look, so the new shingles on the roof make it look more residential, and softens the look to it," Barker said. "We made the renovations so that we could maintain the tenants we have and also to attract good solid long-term tenants."

Barker said new signs still need to be installed on the front of each business.

dowen@thisweeknews.com