ELYRIA — The mystery company eyeing the old Macy’s department store at Midway Mall is Johnny K’s Powersports of Cleveland, a motorcycle, personal watercraft and motorboat retailer that will leave its Brookpark facility for Elyria.
Monday night, company representatives came to City Council with a request for an Enterprise Zone Agreement that will be a 10-year, 75-percent abatement with a total value of $383,213.55. The state incentive program, which the city is authorized to provide, is a real property tax incentive for businesses that expand or relocate in Ohio.
In this case, Mayor Holly Brinda said the move will substantially increase the retailer’s capacity. It will go from a 10,000-square-foot building to a 103,000-square-foot structure, which will allow it to expand its inventory to include Indian Motorcycles and Polaris all-terrain vehicles.
“We know the investment will be substantial and anywhere from $2.75 million to $5 million,” Brinda said. “This new project will bring 20.5 new jobs plus the owner/manager.”
Brinda said the company’s finance should be in place by the end of the month and with it will come plans to start renovations in January and open in the spring.
Monday’s meeting offered the sort of details many in the community wanted to hear last month when Council voted to donate $500,000 to the city’s Community Improvement Corporation, which will loan the money to the company for gap financing. Related legislation was passed with some opposition from Council, namely from Councilman Mark Craig, I-4th Ward, and Councilman Marcus Madison, D-5th Ward.
John Kalogerou, owner of Johnny K Powersports of Cleveland, gave an overview of his plan to move to the Macy’s building. The business has four locations in Ohio and this would be its largest. Kalogerou presented some preliminary 2-D and 3- renderings of the renovated store inside and out.
Brinda said Monday before the meeting that the project was vetted thoroughly before a decision was made to offer the loan product, but that she was not only thinking of this one business in making the decision.
“This is a niche enterprise that we don’t have anything similar to in Lorain County,” she said. “It does have a regional audience that we think will be attracted to the Midway Mall area. This is more than just an investment in a building that does need to be redeveloped.”
The owners of Johnny K’s like the location because of its highway access. Kalogerou said Monday his business would be most excited about having a location at a mall. Its locations haven’t been the most convenient and said some customers travel an hour to their stores.
They have other locations in Youngstown and Lodi; Interstate 90 and the Ohio Turnpike will allow for easy access to their existing and potential customers, Brinda said.
“They are less concerned about visibility and more concerned about highway access and being near to Lake Erie,” she said. “They have a reputation for highly publicizing their products, so we think this type of business can be a catalyst for other development in the area. Bringing people from outside the county in is something we know we need and this has the potential to do that.”
Moving toward approval
The finance and community development committees approved the agreement Monday. Councilman Larry Tanner, D-1st Ward, was the only member of the finance committee to vote against the agreement. Madison, a member of both committees, abstained.
Moving forward, the committees will give recommendations to the Council, which is expected to vote on final approval Monday. Brinda said she is confident it will pass.
“I think the project has made a case for itself and the majority of council appears to understand the benefits of this investment to the area,” she said.
If approved, Kalogerou said they’d like to begin renovations immediately and hopes to open by June at the latest.
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