Business owners optimistic Lowe’s Outlet will spur renewed interest in Meriden’s east side

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MERIDEN — Dimitrios Klonaras drives to Ocean State Job Lot regularly and winces at the empty storefronts and overgrown weeds near the vacant Lowe’s Home Improvement center.

Klonaras, owner of Huxley’s Bookmark Cafe, and other business owners near the Meriden Parkade on East Main Street were pleased to hear part of the Lowe’s building is reopening.

Earlier this week, a Lowe’s representative confirmed the home improvement chain was opening a “scratch and dent” appliance outlet in the Parkade plaza. Landscaping and other recent work has spruced up the site. Lowes closed the store in 2011. 

“I thinks it’s great,” Klonaras said. “That plaza needs more. By having a Lowe’s outlet,  it will attract other potential business to fill the empty spaces there. And then by doing that, it will bring more potential clients, customers, traffic and make other business in the area successful as well.”

Lowe’s plans to open the appliance center in early September. Real estate representatives from plaza owner Denmari Associates, which shares an address with the corporate offices of Ocean State Job Lot, could not be reached for comment.

The city has sought to increase traffic on the city’s east side by offering a tax incentive program for new construction that brought Ion Bank, Family Dollar, Huxley’s and Taino Prime to the area. But for years, the Meriden Parkade has struggled to keep tenants. 

City Economic Development Director Joseph Feest, who toured the interior of the Lowe’s building at 1201 E. Main St., said the appliance outlet will occupy about 60,000-square feet in the front of the 200,000 square-foot store. The rear will be used for appliance repair and storage, he said.

“I don’t believe they have any plans to sublease but I haven’t asked the question directly,” Feest said in an e-mail. “The way the floor plan is set up would lead me to say ‘no’ but again I haven’t talked directly to them about that.”

Valencia Liquor & Wine Shop is among the few remaining tenants at Meriden Parkade along with Cosmo Prof — a beauty supply store — a Chinese restaurant, a vacuum repair shop, and Ocean State Job Lot.

 Marc Rosen, owner of Valencia with his wife Sharon Flanagan, has watched as a fish restaurant, a beauty school, and the dry cleaners next door closed and the Family Dollar moved to a free-standing location on East Main Street. A Subway shop closed in June. 

“Sharon and I are thrilled to see Lowe’s coming back,” Rosen said. “They also spruced up the landscaping which is long overdue.”

Rosen said representatives from Ocean State have told him there has been other interest in the plaza. Potential candidates include an automotive supply store, a new franchise for the Subway vacancy, and a beauty school, he said. 

The Meriden Parkade property manager would not confirm any new tenant deals and referred all questions to the corporate office in North Kingston, Rhode Island.

Rosen and other business owners have said they feel an outlet store will draw customers from throughout the state. But it would mean fewer trips per customer, instead of regular local traffic, he added.

Nathaniel Bottone, owner of Salon Nathanial, said the parking lot improvements, the exterior paint and an outlet destination will rejuvenate the plaza. Bottone is on the board of the Midstate Chamber of Commerce.

“With a refresh, It’s going to spark a lot of interest on the east side which is great for us and the surrounding businesses,” Bottone said. 

The appliance outlet is a start, Rosen said. A full parking lot will draw traffic and interest. The store would be a destination where customers can search for a deal on range, pick up beer and wine at Valencia, get their car washed at Class Act Car Wash and eat at Huxley’s or another nearby restaurant.

“It’s a good thing for everybody, we’re looking for more tenants,” said Sonny Yang, owner of King’s Garden for 32 years. “We do OK. It’s a family-run business so we do alright. Any business will help this area.” 

mgodin@record-journal.com203-317-2255Twitter: @Cconnbiz


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