Connells Furniture coming to Sunbury:
Stores in Mount Vernon and Newark
With several hundred single-family homes scheduled for construction on the east side of Ohio 3 as part of the Sunbury Meadows Subdivision, folks are going to need furniture. Until now, homebuyers had to travel to Polaris and beyond for that new couch, bed, dining room table or recliner. But if things go as planned for Connells Furniture, home buyers will be able to completely furnish their new digs without ever leaving Sunbury.
Tony Fox, KBI Construction, was at last Monday evening’s Village of Sunbury Planning & Zoning Commission meeting for an informal discussion about plans to build a 28,000-square-foot Connells Furniture store at 520 Commerce Drive in the lot next to J&J Carpets.
Fox said he has two clients. One client has an option to purchase the lot. That client would build and own the store, and lease it to Connells Furniture.
“Connells has showroom stores in Mount Vernon and Newark, and warehouses out of a separate location in Mount Vernon,” Fox said. “The stores are essentially for display, showrooms with deliveries made from the warehouse. Everything goes in and out of the store by a stake-truck using an overhead door. There is not much retail going in and out, just clearance items. There would be no semi traffic per se; no loading dock for a semi.”
Fox said the builder has an option on property that he would like to close by mid-March; that the builder and leaser needs to make certain everyone was working from the same page before closing on the property.
“It will just be a big box with a small office, a 20-foot by 30-foot receiving area and restrooms,” Fox said. “There will be a metal skin on two thirds of the building, earth tones, not a lot to it. My goal is to hear you guys out and then submit drawings.”
There was some discussion about the number of parking spaces required by code. One retail code requires one parking space per 200 square feet of interior space. Using that specification would require 140 parking spaces.
Fox said Connells Furniture showrooms never have that many customer cars in the lot; that 30 parking spaces would be all they require, even during heavy traffic days. Fox said if the parking lot were too large the parking lot would appear empty and the store would have the appearance of not being busy and successful.
He did note that the owner who will build the store and lease it to Connells Furniture would like 70 parking spaces to accommodate future tenant’s needs.
Sunbury’s consulting engineer Wes Hall, CT Consultants, said he did not believe one parking space per 200 square feet fit Connells Furniture use.
“Code says a wholesale facility needs one space for 400 square feet,” Hall said. “This application could be interpreted as a wholesale facility. To get to 70 parking spaces would be 411 square feet, so one parking space for 400 square feet makes sense. There’s also plenty of room on the site to expand parking in the future.”
Hall also noted that Planned Industrial Development code has landscaping requirements, connecting sidewalks along cul-de-sac frontage, and a contingency for a sidewalk along the Ohio 3 frontage if there’s ever a connecting sidewalk.
“My client doesn’t want to put a sidewalk in, but he will,” Fox said. “He’s not going to lose the deal over a sidewalk. He’ll give you what you want.”
There was also a brief discussion about parking lot curbing. Hall said it’s not required by code, but he recommends it, at least along the frontage.
Fox said he has used less durable extruded curbing in the past, adding that he preferred to use parking bumpers to keep people off the grass.
Lighting and signage? Fox said he is working with AEP to put LED lights in light boxes.
“We’re trying to be energy-efficient and go green,” Fox said. “I can’t speak a lot about signage. I want the owner to come in to talk to you guys about signage. That’s a fight I don’t want to fight.”
Sunbury Village Solicitor David Brehm noted that the building straddles two lots; a lot consolidation would be required before construction could proceed.
“Also, because this is new construction this would have to be approved first by the zoning commission, and then go to Sunbury Village Council for their approval,” Brehm said.
Brehm said if Fox returned to zoning for the February 24 meeting and received an up vote, the request would go before Council on March 5. If the legislation gets three readings at council it would not be up for a vote until the April 2 Council meeting. A vote of approval by Council would be followed by a statutory 30-day waiting period.
“It’s going to be tough to meet your mid-March deadline; you might want to look at an extension,” Brehm said. “You could get the three readings suspended with five of six council members voting in favor of a rules suspension; and you could get rid of the 30-day waiting period with emergency language in the legislation. But a worst-case scenario has you into mid-April with a 30-day referendum. I just want you to be aware of the worst-case possible.”
Fox said he would return to zoning on February 24 with plans in hand.