While it may seem quiet to motorists passing by the SOM Center Plaza, where a Sears once was located, inside the building the $3 million redevelopment project is well under way.

City Planning Director Robert S. Frankland said last week that TLM, owner of half of the plaza, has started demolishing the interior of the building as the first step to transforming the space for a new Aldi grocery store and Hobby Lobby.

“There is a lot going in inside the building that is not visible,” Mr. Frankland said. “It’s going to be a transformation of that property.”

Aldi and Hobby Lobby have both picked up their building permits, he added, and will take over the interior remodel part of their plan. Both stores have targeted a fall opening date.

“They are doing their work separately, but actively working on the building,” he said.

The work on the site will result in reducing the building size from 90,000 square feet to 86,000 square feet. Plans are for the Aldi to be located on the north end of the existing building and Hobby Lobby on the south end, immediately adjacent to Marc’s.

TLM is also moving ahead with plans to repave the parking lot, Mr. Frankland continued.

Mr. Frankland said the city would like to see owners of the Marc’s property improve that section of the parking lot as well “because this will be a significant upgrade to that (the former Sears) lot. It will essentially look like a new parking lot.”

Developers are planning to have the surface ground down and new asphalt laid.

“We expect that to include the US Bank outparcel in front of Aldi and Hobby Lobby,” Mr. Frankland said.

He said that there will be an inspection done of the property by the city, and cracks and holes in pavement are not permitted. “If that is the case, Marc’s would have to upgrade too,” he said. “There are ordinances that affect conditions of parking lots and with Aldi and Hobby Lobby making significant investment in the site, the city will inspect and make sure that the Marc’s site is in good condition as well.”

In addition to repaving the lot, the retaining walls will be redone and new fencing and landscaping will be added in the back. The garden center on the north side of the building has been demolished.

“That building will look nothing like it does today,” Mr. Frankland said.

Sears closed in the plaza more than four years ago and redevelopment of the plaza has been a longtime goal of the city and its administration.

The city’s master plan calls for a complete tear down and rebuild of the aging site for a mixed use development, but TLM had indicated that was not economically feasible. The plaza’s dual ownership also posed challenges, TLM officials said.

An entire mixed use development could have run upwards of $20 million, city officials said.

For the last decade, Sue Reid has covered the government, business climate and residents of Solon. A Times reporter for 22 years, Ms. Reid has earned commendations from the Ohio Newspaper Association and Cleveland Press Association.

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