Deal or No Deal? Cafaro, Meijer Conflict on Sale

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A spokesman for the Cafaro Co. says there is no deal yet on a sale of the former Super Kmart building in Howland to Meijer Stores Ltd.

Meijer Stores Ltd. confirmed this morning that the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer had purchased the 193,749-square-foot building, which is located on the Howland Commons portion of the Eastwood Mall Complex in Niles and Howland.

Meijer has owned the location “for a while now” but there is no construction start or opening date yet, said Frank Guglielmi, senior director of communications for the chain.

Joe Bell, director of corporate communications for the Cafaro Co., which owns and is headquartered at the Eastwood Mall complex, said Cafaro was in discussion with Meijer on a couple of properties but “we don’t have any finalized agreement” with the chain.

“We have a contractual agreement in place,” Guglielmi said in response to an emailed request for clarification. He said he did not have any details to share beyond that.

The last transfer of the property according to Trumbull County Records took place June 13, from Cafaro Ross Partnership to Howland Commons LLC. Both are Cafaro-related entities, Bell said.

The store will be the third Mahoning Valley location for which Meijer has confirmed plans. Two years ago, it began buying property in Austintown for a planned store on Mahoning Avenue and is in the process of purchasing property on state Route 224 in Boardman for a store along that commercial corridor.

“When you look at our current footprint in Ohio, Northeast Ohio is a very logical next step for our growth,” Guglielmi said. “We have not set construction dates for our sites east of Cleveland yet, and we’ll most likely have more specifics to share on those locations once we get our first three Cleveland stores open next summer.”

After Michigan, Ohio has the chain’s largest store presence, with more than 40 stores in areas including Toledo, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati, Guglielmi said. Meijer also has a large distribution center and a new dairy processing facility in Tipp City.

Meijer has more than 240 supercenter and grocery stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin. A privately-owned and family-operated company since 1934, its offerings include expanded fresh produce and meat departments, pharmacies, comprehensive apparel departments, pet departments, garden centers, toys and electronics.

When a national brand grows and expands into a market, that sends a message of growth about that market, said Sarah Boyarko, chief operating officer of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber. Meijer’s expansion into the Mahoning Valley represents “a great opportunity for us,” particularly with other retailers having left the area, including Kmart, which vacated the site Meijer bought earlier this year.

“Any company of their nature does their homework to determine where the best location might be for future success,” Boyarko said.

Howland Township Administrator Darlene St. George said township trustees were pleased to hear about Meijer coming to the area. “We welcome them and look forward to working with them on developing this project,” she said.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.