McCloud: Loss of Valu King is 'disappointing'
When Giant Eagle decided to bring its Valu King discount grocery store to Reynoldsburg more than two years ago, city leaders and residents had hoped it would lead to a new beginning in the Brice-Livingston neighborhood.
At the time of its May 2010 opening, the 32,000-square-foot store at 6300 E. Livingston Ave., with its warehouse-like shelves, was expected to fill a niche in the area and create 45 full-time and part-time jobs.
A grocery store had been a top request from those who live in the area since the Big Bear closed in 2004.
For some reason, it didn't work out. Giant Eagle announced last week that it would close the store in early September, but didn't say why.
"It's disappointing because I thought it was a good fit demographically for the area, but as it turned out, it wasn't successful," Reynoldsburg Mayor Brad McCloud said. "I can only assume they closed because it was no longer profitable."
In a statement, company spokesman Dan Donovan described the Reynoldsburg Valu King and the one in nearby Pataskala as "concepts," which means the stores were trials, and not commitments to neighborhoods.
The Pataskala store closed within weeks of its opening.
"The majority of team members will be offered comparable positions at area Giant Eagle locations," Donovan said.
Red Raider Capital LLC, a local real estate partnership, purchased the former Big Bear site in 2007, envisioning several retail options for the building.
Valu King is using a little more than half of the 101,000 square feet available in the building. The city has been searching for businesses to occupy the rest of the space.
"We tried for years to get somebody to come in there, so it's very disappointing that we're losing that," Reynoldsburg City Councilman Mel Clemens said. "We needed a store there, but I can understand. Like any business, you need to make a profit. I'm hoping someone else will come in and pick it up. It's a good piece of property."
When the store opened on May 23, 2010, Valu King vice president Jeff Galmarini said the economic climate at the time made it "valuable for people who not only want to save money, but want to shop smarter."
Like competitors Aldi and Save-A-Lot, it was all about price. There is an Aldi store not far from the Brice-Livingston neighborhood.
"It's a very unique building that fit perfectly back in the prime of Big Bear," Councilman Barth Cotner said. "I know the location has great access to I-270 and I-70. The issue is finding a developer with a vision."
But finding a new developer for the property will remain a challenge, McCloud said, because "we cannot attract a quality candidate for what we can pay."
The city has been without a development director since Lucas Haire departed in August 2011 to become Canal Winchester's development chief.
It was Haire who guided the Valu King deal.
"There are precious few companies that need that space, but we will redouble our efforts to develop the corridor and continue moving forward," McCloud said.