COVENTRY TWP. New life is coming to a stretch of vacant buildings on Arlington Road.
A former Friendly’s, Pizza Hut and White Castle sit empty in a row along a stretch of the road just north of Interstate 77. The Pizza Hut, which has been vacant since it moved into the Target in 2006, has stood empty the longest. Friendly’s closed all Ohio locations in late 2014 and White Castle closed all its locations in Northeast Ohio in late 2014.
After years of sitting empty, Fred Martin has purchased all three properties and plans to demolish them to make a $4.5 million investment into the 2.7-acre property creating a car sales and car leasing business.
Coventry Zoning Inspector George Beckham announced the project during the July 13 trustees meeting.
Beckham said Fred Martin came before the Board of Zoning Appeals about a new digital sign on I-77. The board voted in favor 3-2 for the new 480-square-foot digital sign that will replace the three existing sign poles on the properties.
Fred Martin owner Duane Huff said his company bougth the Pizza Hut land in 2010 with the intention of building a smaller building. He said it came by surprise that both the White Castle and Friendly’s closed, allowing Fred Martin to purchase all three.
For the time being, Fred Martin plans to only develop the Pizza Hut and White Castle properties and construct a dual-use building for a Budget Car Mart and a Trusty Cars and Credit. The Budget Car Mart will feature cars for $6,000 and less and the Trustee Cars Credit will lease cars to the public.
"We love these properties," Huff said. "They are in a high retail area."
Huff also said the traffic on Arlington Road and on Interstate 77 will be beneficial to the business. In addition, he said this new facility will piggyback off the Green Auto Mile, which includes a number of dealerships just south of Interstate 77 on Arlington Road.
Demolition of the old buildings is expected to be complete by the end of August and the new businesses in operation in spring 2018. It is expected to employee 25 people.
"This is going to be good for the area," Huff said. "It is going to be a good looking building, too."