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Businessman believes Chestnut Commons connector road would be 'win-win'

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ELYRIA — A businessman, who owns land on the city’s eastern edge that Mayor Holly Brinda hopes to use to build a connector road into the Chestnut Commons commercial development, said Friday the growth of his outdoor products company and the purchase of the undeveloped land last year will be a “win-win” when all is said and done.

If City Council approves Brinda’s plans, which were announced Thursday and will go before Council members Monday, a $4.3 million connector road will be built from Chestnut Commons Drive in front of Walmart north to East Broad Street, ending in a roundabout at Ternes Lane.

The proposed path of the road crosses land owned by both Walmart and DBR Commercial Realty and is expected to reduce traffic on Chestnut Commons Drive and the nearby intersection of state Route 57 and Chestnut Ridge Road by about 20 percent.

Dan Reaser, the president of DBR Commercial Realty, said Friday he purchased the property north of Walmart last year, not knowing it might be key to a new traffic pattern in the area.

Until recently, the property was workable farmland, Reaser said. It also is where the sanitary sewer and water utilities that feed Chestnut Commons are located underground — and ideal for a road linking Chestnut Commons with Broad Street, he said.

Reaser said he had hoped to build a 100,000-square-foot distribution center on the property he purchased to better serve customers of his other company, Outdoor Product Innovations Inc.

OPI manufactures and distributes hunting and outdoor products including Rhino Blinds hunting blinds, Capsule game feeders and LiDCAM hands-free action cameras, available at Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops and Walmart and on Amazon.com, among other major retailers, Reaser said.

“Our business is growing so fast, we have four different warehouses — one in Sheffield and three in Elyria — and we were running out of room on Reaser Court” where the company is located, he said.

Wanting to keep his business in Elyria, Reaser said one challenge was “very limited property to buy” to expand. That’s when he began working with the city and Brinda to find room to grow.

Passing by the property between Broad Street and Chestnut Ridge Road each day, he said he realized it was some of the last undeveloped land in the city.

“I always knew the property was for sale, it’s been for sale for 20 years,” Reaser said.

After closing on the purchase, he said he started working on plans for the distribution center on a cul-de-sac he planned to build up against the back of the Walmart property. Those plans went on hold when Brinda approached Reaser for help resolving the traffic issue, he said.

The suggestion of running a connector road around the west side of Walmart to link up to Chestnut Commons Drive made sense and didn’t affect OPI’s future expansion plans, Reaser said.

“We started discussing it, and it made sense,” he said. “It really wasn’t interfering with what we were planning to do.”

Reaser called the mayor’s plans a “win-win for everybody” and a chance to help improve quality of life. He gave the mayor “a lot of credit” for bringing the plan to him and said it wasn’t one he had considered when he started forming expansion plans.

Reaser said there is “plenty” of land left to build his distribution center. That, he said, will continue development in the city, allow him to hire more employees and continue to support other local businesses.

The property is “entirely inside the city limits of Elyria. It benefits the city. Obviously with 61 acres, there are lots of facilities that can go there, all the way from (state Route) 57 to this property,” he said.

“However this is developed, whatever goes on the 61 acres, it creates a lot of jobs and a lot of opportunities to keep people in Elyria having places to go, rather than going to other towns for shopping or entertainment,” Reaser said.

Contact Dave O’Brien at 329-7129 or do’brien@chroniclet.com. Follow him at @daveobrienCT on Twitter.


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