Several new businesses are changing the look of Hartville, and there could be more coming.
The corner of Market Avenue and state Route 619 is a far cry from what it was 20 years ago.
The buildings on the northwest corner that house the Hartville Cafe and Gift Shop are all that remain.
The southwest corner was home to the original Hartville Kitchen and flea market. The squat brick building that crowded the street was demolished years ago. Today, passersby see the bright lights and orange awnings of a Sheetz convenience store.
Across the street, another long-vacant lot has been filled. Aldi opened a grocery store in early November.
"It's sure a big plus for the village," Mayor Richard A. Currie said of the developments.
Empty lots along W. Maple Street have been filling gradually.
Consumers National Bank opened an office two years ago. Last year, Grinders Above & Beyond opened a restaurant that fronts a plaza with three smaller spots in the back. Top It Off Frozen Yogurt occupies one slot and another is leased by City Cleaners, a dry cleaning and laundry service.
Aldi's new store in Hartville is the fifth in Stark County. The others are in Canton, Alliance and Jackson and Perry townships.
The chain considers population density, proximity to competitors and traffic patterns when looking for a location. "We want to be conveniently based where Aldi shoppers are located," Corey Stucker, Aldi's Hinckley Division vice president, said in an email.
The growth on Hartville's west end doesn't seem to be hurting the older downtown area. Several new shops have moved in, filling up once-vacant storefronts.
"We're really excited about the possibilities down there," Christa Kozy, president of the Lake Township Chamber, said of renewed interest near the village center.
TOURISM A FACTOR
There's plenty of traffic along Route 619 — so much that the Ohio Department of Transportation is reviewing plans to widen the road and improve traffic flow.
Some of the traffic is running to and from housing subdivisions around Lake Township. But there also is plenty of traffic flowing into the complex just west of the village that has grown into the Hartville Kitchen, Hartville Marketplace and Hartville Hardware.
Currie noted that tour buses now stop at the complex. Kozy said the businesses are drawing 2 million visitors per year.
Although the complex is outside of the village, Hartville sees indirect benefits, Currie said. "The business they generate spills over into the village, our restaurants."
More business is coming with construction starting on a Comfort Inn & Suites that will sit between the village limits and the Hartville Marketplace complex.
"It's very exciting for a tourism town to have a hotel added to the mix," Kozy said.
While Hartville's west side looks far different from bygone days, residents seem to have embraced the change, Kozy said.
Currie said there is a new sense of excitement because of the development. "Things are looking up in Hartville."
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