City mum on development at former Big Lots store

Published 11:05 pm Saturday, October 17, 2009

IRONTON — City officials continue to be tight-lipped about recent construction activity at the former Big Lots store despite indications by the area business community that the site is being redeveloped for a new dialysis clinic.

Chatter about a new tenant recently heated up following the arrival of construction crews last month. Most of the work on the Second Street building that opened in 1986, has been taking place in the rear interior or storage area of the former closeout retailer’s home.

“It’s a done deal, a dialysis clinic is coming to the city of Ironton,” a business leader in proximity to the site said last week. He was not aware of the official name of the business or how much of the space would be needed.

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When asked by The Tribune about the construction activity and if a new tenant was imminent, Mayor Rich Blankenship said earlier this month he was not aware of any recent movement on the site.

However, when questioned by Ironton City Council about a new tenant at the Big Lots location, Blankenship said he would “make an announcement when appropriate.”

The mayor’s silence is nothing new concerning recent development within the city though.

Even after the proverbial cat was out of the bag on both development of downtown’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital clinic and the Close to Home assisted living facility at the former St. Lawrence School, Blankenship refused to acknowledge either project despite both being common knowledge throughout the community.

Henderson, Ky. -based Ershig Properties, Inc. currently owns the building. Calls made to Ershig and company operations director Joe Stevens were not returned.

The former anchor tenant at the Ironton shopping center has been vacant since Columbus-based Big Lots closed the store in early 2006.

The space currently has 330-feet of frontage space and offers a depth of between 60 to 80 feet.

Big Lots decided to shutter the North Second Street store claiming it was one of 170 underperforming stores in its national chain.

Twenty-six employees lost their jobs as a result of the closure.