Avon Commons Breaks Ground

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NEWS ARTICLE from THE CHRONICLE-TELEGRAM, 11-5-99, By Joe Mosbrook Jr.

"AVON COMMONS BREAKS GROUND

AVON -- ... Schneider arrived at the official groundbreaking ceremony armed with a long-awaited list of retailers that are committed to building on the Detroit Road site.

Those merchants include Heinen's grocery store, Home Depot, Target, Kohl's department store, a Marshall's discount department store, an Old Navy clothing store, Linens and Things, Michael's Crafts and an Old World Market, a home decorating and epicurial store ...

The site also has room for eight sit-down restaurants, five of which will be announced in months to come, Schneider said. He said he expects the entire project will cost $65 million.

Schneider said a grand opening party for Avon Commons is planned for the summer of 2001 ...

Also, First Interstate Development Inc. in Pepper Pike -- Schneider is president of the company -- will donate $75,000 to the [Avon] local school district. The money will be used to fund college scholarships for graduating seniors and a counseling program for middle school students ...

Local attorney Gerald Phillips, a vociferous opponent of Schneider's plan since the outset more than two years ago, ... did not return phone messages left at his home, and knocks on his door Thursday went unanswered."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE PRESS, 11-10-99, By Bud Henderson

"It's official: Avon Commons ground broken

It was a big day for the people in Avon.

A large tent protected over 80 people from the morning cold weather last Thursday to be a part of Cleveland developer Mitch Schneider's official groundbreaking of Avon Commons.

Schneider took the time to thank everyone involved in the two-year process that culminated last Thursday with the basic shovels and photos. He recognized supporters of the project, council people, planning commission members, his staff and his family.

He talked about the hard work it took to get the project from the drawing board to reality, and released the names of tenants committed to the project.

There were no big surprises, other than the inclusion of Heinen's grocery store, which The PRESS predicted last week.

Other stores will include Target, Home Depot, Kohl's, Marshall's, Michael's Crafts, Linens and Things, Old Navy and Cost Plus World Market.

At least five sit-down restaurants will be included, Schneider said, although he said he has no definite commitments yet.

It will be about 18 months before the stores are ready to open, Schneider said. "And over that time, $65 million in capital will have been employed to develop this project.

"It's been a long two years," Schneider said with a smile. "But it's worth it."

m. schneider
Mitchell Schneider with a groundbreaking shovel

He said he has commitments for about 85 percent of the space, and expects that to reach 100 percent by spring.

Schneider, president of First Interstate Development, said they will spend the fall and winter on infrastructure.

"We'll work on water lines, sewers, utilities and roads. By next spring, we should be ready to start building." ...

First Interstate, unlike industrial developers, will manage the 85-acre development, collecting rent from long-term tenants ...

In addition to the stores, the center will feature five acres of a "festival market pathway" and an amphitheater, Schneider said. Already, his office has begun the planning of an annual arts festival, and he hopes the area will be a valuable family and community gathering place.

Avon Mayor Jim Smith called Schneider, "One of the good guys.

"He's done everything he said he would do and has cooperated to the fullest with the city. I'm very impressed with his honesty and attention to detail."

Schneider faced a formidable task with ... [opposition from the Jacobs Group], two city-wide votes, and a state supreme court decision.

He also paid about $10 million for the land.

But he stuck with it, invested a lot of time and money, and now his dream is a reality."

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