A Schreiner Ace Hardware likely will take over the former CVS space at 940 High St.

A Schreiner Ace Hardware likely will take over the former CVS space at 940 High St.

The Architectural Review Board (ARB) approved plans for the new store Oct. 11.

Co-owners Jim Ryan and Bob Trout, who together own three other Schreiner Ace stores in central Ohio, will invest about $300,000 to bring the old store up to their standards.

A garden area on the south side of the building is part of the approved plans. Flowers will be sold during the spring and summer, pumpkins in the fall and other seasonal items year round.

The 25-by-100-foot outdoor area will be enclosed with a 6-foot-high black aluminum fence.

The building will be painted, including the front metal roof; the parking lot will be sealed and restriped; and trees will be planted along the south property line.

A new storefront system will include sliding doors and a new sign above the entrance.

Inside, the store will be completely remodeled and brought up to ADA standards.

"It's going to be a very nice store," said Ryan, who lives in Worthington. "We're there to stay; we're there to make it work."

The store will sell a wide range of hardware and do-it-yourself merchandise. Known by its ads as "the helpful hardware place," Ace will be staffed by people who advise homeowners working on projects.

The target opening date is Feb. 1.

The 10,000-square-foot store has been empty for four years, ever since CVS built and moved into a new store across the street.

Many residents expressed hope that the old store would become a grocery, similar to the Jubilee Foods that closed to make way for the new CVS.

Public testimony has established that CVS had refused to lease the site to any entity that would compete with CVS, including the sale of food or alcohol. According to statements from Ryan and Trout, their efforts to purchase the site were thwarted by CVS, which "was adamant about protecting themselves from another competitor on the corner."

"So much so that they paid nearly five times the market price for the site originally," according to a statement filed with the city.

CVS originally refused to pay any money toward the renovation of the property. It relented following the latest ARB meeting, when board members let loose with a barrage of complaints about the way the company has treated the city of Worthington.

Ryan said the ARB testimony had taken him by surprise. But when he sent an email to the leasing agent to explain the problems that had arisen during the first meeting, he gained some finances for he renovation project, Ryan said. He did not divulge the amount.

Because of the strict deed restrictions and an unwillingness of CVS to share the cost of redevelopment, the site has been considered unlikely to attract other leasers.

"If we don't go into this spot, it would sit there for another four years," Ryan said.