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Valley Park Commons work is planned

April 02, 2005|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

daniels@herald-mail.com

After Martin's Food Market moves out, the Illinois-based real estate company that owns the Valley Park Commons hopes to launch a redevelopment of the Wesel Boulevard site anchored around its former tenant.

John DiGiovanni, senior vice president for development of Inland Retail Real Estate Trust Inc. of Oak Brook, Ill., said Inland agreed to let Martin's out of its lease early because it is moving next door.

"Even though we don't own it, they really are, essentially, the anchor to that whole retail node," DiGiovanni said.

Martin's officials expect to open the new 65,000-square-foot market in the late spring or early summer.

After submitting and gaining approval for a new market on Railway Lane in March 2004, Martin's revised its plans about a month later, seeking instead to build its new store on the Wesel Boulevard location next to the shopping center.

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"It's kind of a long and complicated story, but ... we were able to intercede and circumvent that move and keep them close at hand," DiGiovanni said. "It was a benefit, obviously, to everyone."

Martin's spokesman Denny Hopkins said the company only filed plans for the Railway Lane site because the former Wal-Mart property it now is building upon was not available. After it filed plans, he said, Inland stepped in to help Martin's acquire the Wal-Mart property instead. As part of that intervention, he said, Inland agreed to let Martin's out of its lease 60 days after the old store closes and the new one opens.

Inland bought the 89,589-square-foot Valley Park Commons for $11.3 million in March 2003 from the Ahold Real Estate Co., parent company of both Martin's and Giant Food Stores.

DiGiovanni said while it no longer will have Martin's as a tenant, he expects the new market will serve as an anchor to reinvigorate the shopping center.

Hopkins said he, too, believes the new market will generate enough foot traffic to stimulate growth at the shopping center.

"I believe we will still be a very strong draw, even a stronger draw" than at the current store, he said, adding the larger prototype for Martin's will be the first of its kind in this region.

"It's going to create a lot of excitement," he said.

The existing center merchants will remain where they are, DiGiovanni said, and he hopes to minimize impact on them while Inland changes the facade of the vacated supermarket to match the new Martin's next door.

DiGiovanni said he is dealing with several merchants interested in replacing the market. He declined to specify those businesses by type or name, but he said he expects to formalize a deal or multiple deals within two months.

If all goes as planned, he said, the renovation could start this summer and conclude by the end of the year. At this point, though, the plans are conceptual.

"We have not solidified our plans at this point," he said.

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