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Produce Packaging moving to former Willoughby Hills Sam's Club site.

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(Excerpts courtesy of Jordyn Grzelewski, Cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer)


CLEVELAND, Ohio – A former Sam’s Club site that has languished for a decade will soon be revived by a Cleveland company that will bring an estimated 300 jobs to the facility on Chardon Road.

Produce Packaging, Inc., http://ppifresh.net, a produce packer that is currently based at 7501 Carnegie Ave. in Cleveland, closed on the sale of the property at 27853 Chardon Road on Monday. PPI sold the Carnegie Avenue site to the Cleveland Food Hub last year and PPI is currently renting space there. The move to Willoughby Hills will help with space constraints.

“They were really out of room and they needed to expand to a larger space, a more efficient space, with a larger parking field for the amount of employees,” said Eliot Kijewski of Cushman & Wakefield /Cresco Real Estate, who, along with Goodman Real Estate, represented the seller in the deal.

The former Sam’s Club site in the Shoppes at Willoughby Hills plaza fit the bill. Situated on 9 acres, the facility totals about 155,000 square feet and came with necessary features such as freezers, refrigeration and air conditioning. Produce Packaging intends to invest an undisclosed amount in renovations to the facility before moving in late this year or early next year.

The Willoughby Hills Sam’s Club abruptly shuttered in May 2009, citing poor sales and competition, The Plain Dealer reported. The store opened in 1991 and at the time of its closure employed about 130 full- and part-time workers.

“The seller, Bishop Castle, got us involved to look at some industrial” uses,” said Kijewski, who was familiar with Produce Packaging and its need for additional space.

“It’s a long-term plan that we are pleased is moving along ahead of schedule,” said Bishop Castle President, J. Scott Scheel. “In less than two years, we have invested millions in rebuilding the infrastructure and appearance. We have added a couple of new businesses, and we’re excited about future openings, including an exciting new fitness center that will open their first Ohio location here in 2019, and a community police substation we anticipate opening in May.”

The move also was aided by state economic development agency JobsOhio and its Northeast Ohio partner, TeamNEO, and by the city of Willoughby Hills, brokers said.

Patrick Dowd, vice president of Sequoia Realty Corp. who represented Produce Packaging in both this deal and its sale of the Carnegie Avenue property, described the situation as a win for everyone involved.

“It’ll be good for the area. Sam’s [Club] has been vacant for years, and to have that many jobs coming to Willoughby Hills will be a very positive thing,” Dowd said. “The mayor and city council were very helpful, and had the foresight to realize that to reposition an old retail building into something different was important.”

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