A long-empty lot at Delaware's Glennwood Commons shopping center soon will be filled.
Since 2007, the area between Meijer and Kohl's at the shopping center along U.S. Route 36/state Route 37 on the city's east side has held nothing but grass.
But this spring, work is set to begin on a 96,100-square-foot building to occupy that space, housing retailers Hobby Lobby, TJ Maxx, Ulta Beauty and Five Below.
Delaware City Council on Feb. 24 approved an ordinance allowing combined preliminary and final development plans for the project.
Kris Krstovski of K2 Development, headquartered in Bingham Farms, Michigan, told council, "These are the top four retailers in the nation right now that e-commerce cannot compete with. ... They're in here guaranteed for 10 years."
He said his company plans to start work on the building in April.
City planning director Dave Efland told council the shopping center was developed just before the onset of the Great Recession in the late 2000s, and Home Depot's plans to build a store there failed to develop.
As recently as May 2018, Home Depot still owned the property, when Matt Harrigan of Home Depot's corporate communications office said the company had the land up for sale.
A staff report attached to the Feb. 24 agenda said Hobby Lobby would occupy 55,000 square feet; TJ Maxx, 22,000; Ulta Beauty, 10,500; and Five Below, 8,500.
Also planned, the report said, was the future addition of 12,540 square feet -- which would bring the total to about 108,640 square feet -- for a tenant to be determined later.
Council member Lisa Keller told council, "Given the reaction of the community, I would say they're ready to mob (the new stores)."
On Keller's public Facebook page, she wrote Jan. 23, "The mere mention in a Facebook group of TJ Maxx, Ulta and Hobby Lobby (in the Meijer shopping center) has FILLED my inbox with questions today."
She told council, "I think on that one Facebook post that I got where I posted about it, I had something like 25,000 different interactions. On a normal post, it's about 500."
She also posed a question to Efland, saying she was asking for the benefit of the public, "as I've read some of the comments."
After the meeting, Keller said, a portion of the Facebook comments alluded disparagingly to Hobby Lobby's policies for employees.
"Basically, we are not examining each business based on what we think about the business, the merits of the business," Keller said.
"We're examining whether this plan conforms with zoning, setbacks, landscaping, etc. We're not saying we like or dislike Hobby Lobby or Ulta or any of the retailers."
Efland said he appreciated the question and that "we do not review these with the name above the door in mind.
"Whether they're names the community might like in this case, whether they're names that the community has expressed in the past that it maybe doesn't like. ... We review it with respect to the design requirements that are in place for this particular center on this particular site, and our comments of staff are related to ensuring that this developer is held to the same standard as the original developer," he said.
"If we simply view things as what we like and we don't like, one can imagine the kind of community -- not just commercial but maybe residential -- that we might have and certainly that would violate all sorts of laws and just decency," Efland said.
Efland also said the building site is ready for construction, with parking and landscaping in place.