Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Retailer's plans put on hold in W. Chester

Jacobson calls off expansion to area after filing Ch. 11

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WEST CHESTER TWP. — Plans for a Jacobson's store here were iced Tuesday when the specialty retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

        Officials with Jacobson Stores Inc. announced that all expansion plans are indefinitely postponed as they prepare to close five of the company's 23 stores — two in Ohio — and slash 520 jobs.

        Last summer, the company signed an option to lease with Midland Atlantic as the anchor a 500,000-square-foot mall called Voice of America Centre at the northeast corner of Cox and Tylersville roads.

        The retailer also was planning to open a Cleveland store.

        “It's unfortunate because we identified both the north Cincinnati and Cleveland markets as ones we wanted to be in because we saw a need,” said Frederick Marx, a Jacobson spokesman.

        “We are disappointed and hope at some point to be talking about them again.”

        John Silverman, a top executive with Midland Atlantic, said Midland never executed the lease because Midland wasn't sure which direction it wanted to go with the mall.

        Changes will be announced soon that the mall has converted to a grocery-anchored center instead of an upscale mall, he said Tuesday, declining to elaborate.

        The announcement that Jacobson's wasn't coming anytime soon disappointed many in the community.

        “We still believe they are coming,” said Melissa Koehler, West Chester Township's economic development director.

        “Jacobson's will be a destination driver. We would be disappointed if Jacobson's didn't come to West Chester. The cry from residents for years now has been upscale retail.”

        With the court's approval, Jacobson plans to close underperforming stores in Columbus and Toledo in Ohio and Clearwater, Osprey and Tampa in Florida.

        The action will allow Jacobson to maintain business operations at its 18 best-performing stores while restructuring its finances, Jacobson president and chief financial officer Carol Williams said in a statement.

        The 133-year-old upscale retailer based in Jackson, Mich., specializes in apparel and home decor and also operates stores in Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and Kansas.


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