Seasons Road enjoys fruits of economic development plans

A decade after the opening of the Seasons Road-State Route 8 interchange, greater economic development is occurring in the corridor as businesses take advantage of available land and easy freeway access.

The wave of new economic activity is expected to benefit the towns of Stow, Hudson and Cuyahoga Falls, with growth increasing the potential for job creation and tax revenue.

Builder on a roll at Stow

In Stow, Ray Fogg Building Methods has constructed five industrial buildings which will house several businesses in the Seasons Road area. A sixth structure – a 254,474 square foot industrial building – will spring up at the southwest corner of Route 8 and Seasons Road.

Stow City Council in February approved the plan for the structure of the Seasons Business West industrial park on Gray Lane.

Mike Merle, president and chief executive of Fogg, told city council in February that he thought there was a good chance that only one tenant would occupy the building, but what business that will be is not yet known. known.

Two companies – Athersys and Veritiv – have already announced plans to house major operations in the Fogg buildings.

Cleveland-based Athersys creates up to 400 jobs

Athersys, a Cleveland-based biomedical technology company, announced in March 2021 had signed a 10-year lease on the 210,000 square foot industrial building in Fogg on Scarlet Lane near the Seasons Road-Route 8 interchange.

Athersys is expected to create up to 400 full-time jobs in Stow, generating more than $30 million in annual new payroll as a result of the expansion.

“This is a big win for Stow,” said Nathan Leppo, Stow’s Director of Planning and Development.

Veritiv will have 51 employees working in the Gray Lane building in Stow by the end of April.

Veritiv is coming to Summit County from Independence

Veritiv, which provides companies in various industries with custom packaging solutions, facility cleaning programs, printing and publishing products, is relocating its operations from Independence.

Merle said once the business is “fully operational” at its Fogg-owned plant, it will generate about $3.5 million in payroll for Stow.

Veritiv will have 51 employees working in the building, including logistics, sales, sales support and publishing experts, as well as office staff, according to company spokeswoman Jennifer Chapman. Of this number, 27 workers will be in the building starting Monday, and the rest will move in at the end of April.

“Veritiv built this building to meet both the current business needs of our customers and to enable future growth,” Chapman said.

Proximity to Route 8 was a factor in Veritiv’s establishment of a distribution center on Gray Lane, Chapman said.

Merle said some smaller-scale operations moving into Fogg’s other three nearby buildings are also new to Summit County, and noted that the developer is looking to lease three more available bays in the Veritiv building.

Fogg is not alone in transforming the landscape. Chromascape, a supplier of specialist colorants and additives, is building a facility at 858 Seasons Road in Stow. And long-discussed plans for a new medical building are taking shape on the Hudson side of the road.

Western Reserve Hospital and Anchor Health Properties are constructing a new medical office building at 231 Seasons Road in Hudson, near the Route 8 interchange.

Medical building progresses in Hudson

Western Reserve Hospital and Anchor Health Properties are planning to construct a 56,000 square foot medical office building on the north side of Seasons Road west of Highway 8. The investment is $20.2 million and more than 100 people are expected to work in the building within five years.

UYS Properties LLC and Anchor Seasons Road Owner LLC filed in January for a 50% property tax exemption over 15 years for the project. Hudson City Council is expected to vote on the exemption on April 5. If the council approves the exemption, construction would begin in the spring and be completed in about a year.

The Town of Hudson plans to extend a water main along Seasons Road from west of Patriot Parkway to the West Corporation Line that will serve the medical office building and other lots in that area, according to Roberts.

Interchange, infrastructure helped drive growth

Karen Fritschel, who was mayor of Stow in 2010 when the Seasons Road-state Route 8 interchange was installed, said the benefits to local businesses and industries were key to gaining support and funding for the freeway project .

“[The area] was zoned for light industry,” said Fritschel, who was mayor from 2004 to 2011 and a member of Stow City Council from 1988 to 1999. “When you have these kinds of projects, you collect income tax people who work there, which funds your roads, your parks, everything else.”

Fritschel thanked then-U.S. Representative Steve LaTourette and then-U.S. Senator George Voinovich for helping secure federal funds for the project. She said Stow began receiving federal funds in 2004 for the project, which also benefited from a local levy.

“It was a long time coming,” Fritschel said. “…It didn’t happen overnight. It was hard work and it was good work.”

The mayor of Fritschel’s counterpart in Hudson at the time, Bill Currin, said he was supportive of the project and recalled working with various agencies to secure funding. While the project had its naysayers, Currin said, “it was more than likely to enter” because it was helpful to businesses that were already there and would pave the way for future economic development.

More development is occurring along and near Seasons Road in Stow.  City and business leaders say the proximity to Route 8 is attractive for businesses looking to locate.

Additionally, he said, the Seasons Road area has merged with Hudson’s own goals to steer businesses and industries to prime locations for growth.

“We had planned in advance where we would like these [types of development] go rather than scattering them all over town,” Currin said.

Some initial plans fail before the development area takes off

After the interchange was in place, two different development projects were planned, but did not move forward. Although they ultimately did not take place, it showed that there was interest in locating businesses near the interchange.

When the interchange was put in place, Western Reserve Hospital and Summa Health were working together to build a 100-bed hospital in a proposed joint economic development area on Seasons Road. At that time, Summa Health was a minority owner of Western Reserve Hospital. The Economic Development Zone would have included Hudson, Stow, and Cuyahoga Falls, but these plans never moved forward, and Summa and Western Reserve later severed their partnership.

Continued:Upcoming medical office building in Hudson. Could other hospital services be next?

Currin said he was supportive of the hospital’s plan, which he said showed “what could be accomplished by putting this [interchange] in there. The facility would have been close to parts of several communities: North Cuyahoga Falls, Northwest Stow, Southwest Hudson, Boston Township and Boston Heights.

There was also a plan for a waste management company to set up an operation along Seasons Road in Hudson, but Currin said that plan did not materialize either. He added that Hudson has built an electrical substation and put other infrastructure in place along Seasons Road “to be shovel-ready” for other companies looking to build.

Today’s leaders praise the actions of their predecessors

Stow Mayor John Pribonic said the installation of the interchange, as well as the water and sewer lines in this area “was very cutting edge at the time”.

Taking those steps, Pribonic said, made the area “shovel-ready” for businesses to set up shop.

“If we had waited, I’m sure I can almost say with 100% certainty that we wouldn’t be looking at these companies today,” Pribonic said.

He said Leppo told him that when businesses want to move, they want to do it as quickly as possible. This means that infrastructure such as water and sewer lines must be in place. If those services aren’t immediately available, Pribonic said companies will seek alternate locations.

“With [Fritschel’s] foresight [on the interchange project]it allows us to do what we hoped to happen,” Pribonic said. “It’s going as we hoped, and even better.”

A new industrial development is underway on Gray Lane off Seasons Road in Stow near the interchange with State Route 8. Ray Fogg Building Methods LLC constructed this industrial building and will soon be constructing another along the road.

Hudson town spokesman Jody Roberts agreed, saying the interchange was “vital” to developing the nearby part of town.

“One of the key things businesses are looking for is easy access to highways,” Roberts added. “Plus, the location is conveniently located between Akron and Cleveland and businesses love being part of the Hudson community.”

Hudson town officials said they expect more development in the area near the planned Western Reserve Hospital medical office building on Seasons Road.

“It is an ideal location for new development, with its access to the Seasons Road interchange,” said Roberts, who added that zoning in this area is for developments such as office parks and industrial business parks.

A Cuyahoga Falls leader said she thinks the interchange is also helpful for nearby business development in her municipality.

“We remain optimistic about the future development of our industrial and commercial corridors located off Wyoga Road, Marc Drive and Cuyahoga Falls Industrial Parkway due to the connectivity of these corridors to Route 8 via the Seasons Road Interchange,” said said Diana Colavecchio, director of community development for the town of Cuyahoga Falls. “Businesses looking to relocate or expand here are very interested in easy freeway access.”

On the infrastructure front, the City of Cuyahoga Falls plans to complete $3.9 million in road improvements, including a widening of Seasons Road from Wyoga Lake Road to State Road. Design work will take place this year, with the upgrade expected to begin in 2023, Colavecchio said.

Journalist Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, pkeren@thebeaconjournal.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.

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