Michael Shack works at the Ashland Home Depot. But for the grand opening of the Steelyard Commons location, he was in line looking for a good deal with around 500 others who waited below the bright orange sign promising guidance on all those do-it-yourself jobs.
Shack and his wife, Karen Sotka, purchased facial tissue, rags and a $12 space heater. "I would have bought it at my store, but it was $16 more," Shack concedes.
That's the kind of draw developer Mitchell Schneider is counting on for the $120 million Steelyard Commons, which will host big-box retailers including a 124,000-square-foot Target Store and a 217,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter. More than 360,000 people live within a 5-mile radius of the shopping center, and the Wal-Mart (opening in September), Best Buy and Target will be the first in the city.
Mike Collins, Home Depot store manager, says this location offers amenities beyond others in the area, including dual-language signage, a 28,000-square-foot garden center with a heated houseplant area, and expanded departments, such as a 2,000-square-foot bath showroom.
While many have argued that huge retailers will hurt small, locally owned businesses, several shoppers downplayed the concerns.
"I'm excited," says Bill Morgan of Collins Equipment on West 55th Street, who was shopping for hardware supplies. "We did business with the former steel mill. I'm glad to see something viable is being done. We needed this."
"My wife grew up a few streets away," says Dave Demer of Avon, who is opening a Great Clips hair salon franchise at Steelyard Commons this month. "We believe in the area. We think it's the kind of thing that can turn the city around."