ONTARIO -- Five Guys is again confirmed for the new strip mall that is replacing the former Ocean Buffet at 994 Lexington-Springmill Rd. in Ontario.
Panda Express and Five Guys are confirmed as two of six tenants of the new plaza, the city’s zoning inspector, Adam Gongwer shared Thursday morning in an email.
“I have sent a zoning exemption letter to Richland County Building and Codes regarding Fabo Architecture doing the interior build-out for Five Guys Burgers and Fries in the new Panda Express Plaza,” he said.
When Richland Source first reported on plans for a Five Guys to come to Ontario in August 2018, the vacant restaurant -- formerly Ocean Buffet -- was expected to be demolished by the end of 2018. A 11,232 square-foot strip mall, called Lexington Pointe, was to be constructed in its place with targeted completion set for the first or second quarter of 2019.
At that time, four potential tenants were mentioned, with three of them, including Five Guys, described as “locked down.” The others include Sleep Number, Sport Clips and Panda Express.
However, going into March 2018, Gongwer still hadn’t received a demolition permit for the property, let alone the permits needed for the new building and tenants.
He attributed part of the delay to a transition in developers. The initial developer has backed out of the project, and another stepped up.
Also in early 2018, property transfers filed with the Richland County Auditor's Office show the property was sold for $1,308,800 to CFT NV Developments, LLC, by Lin Family Property Holdings, LLC.
In early June, the former restaurant was razed and site development underway for a six-tenant stripmall.
As of Thursday, Gongwer said, the outer shell of the building is coming together and the roof is on. Interior construction hasn’t begun yet. He doesn’t know when the strip mall might open.
Fabo Architecture wasn’t immediately available to speak about the project timeline, and Five Guys media representatives weren’t immediately available to comment.
Gongwer says it’s his understanding that Panda Express will be located at the southern end of the building and Five Guys at the northern side. He’s heard of other interested businesses, but no others can be confirmed yet.
Former Payless ShoeSource to be torn down, replaced
The progress at the strip mall isn’t the only new development, Ontario’s zoning inspector said.
The former Payless ShoeSource building will soon be coming down and a new currently unnamed store will be built there soon.
“Although some businesses have decided to close -- Sears, David’s Bridal, BuyBacks, Premier Graphics, Payless, Purse Snickety -- Ontario is still experiencing growth in 2019,” Gongwer said.
Other new developments
Construction for a new Dollar General on the West end of the city is underway.
The Cove Coffee Shop is installing a new outdoor patio on Shelby-Ontario Rd.
Several zoning permits for new residential construction have been approved, including a preliminary review plan for phase two of Maple Ridge Villas (41 new apartments) on Ferguson Rd.