Kroger Co. hopes to soften the blow of a store closing with a more than $2 million renovation at a neighboring location.
The Cincinnati retailer on Friday said it will not reopen its grocery at 3109 N. Anthony Blvd., which has been closed since May when major structural damage forced its shuttering. Even so, district manager Chris Gomez believes the remodeling of the store at 4120 N. Clinton St. will help accommodate customers of the North Anthony store, particularly because many of them have already started to shop here.
Its less than two miles away, he said. The North Clinton store spans more than 50,000 square feet, and a renovation plan is being developed, a Kroger spokesman said. The North Anthony store was about 32,000 square feet.
The company has invested $105 million in Fort Wayne since 2009, including buying shopping centers to expand and upgrade stores. Officials said renovating the North Clinton store became necessary after it could no longer occupy the North Anthony site, which Kroger was leasing from Rogers Family Properties Inc.
President Bill Rogers said he will bulldoze the building and try to market the property.
I dont see it happening overnight, Rogers said, referring to a replacement for the Scotts store. Its a tough economy right now and there arent a lot of people lined up looking to expand.
An unattached building sits adjacent to the former Scotts and tenants there said lack of a retail anchor could hurt their sales. Businessman Ben Plikerd owns the separate building. His tenants include a frame shop, Christian bookstore and financial planner.
Republican City Councilman Russ Jehl and Democrat state Rep. Win Moses teamed up to appeal to Kroger to keep the Scotts store open. On Friday, Jehl called Krogers pullout very sad news.
Im very disappointed, he said, adding that he hopes the retailer will seek input from residents on the North Clinton Street store remodel. Jehl said about 4,000 residents in multiple neighborhoods patronized the North Anthony location.
Kroger has to remove some equipment at its former store and wrap up operations at an unattached pharmacy in the next three weeks. Renovations at the North Clinton store are expected to begin by years end.
The company also expects to debut its previously announced $16 million Kroger Marketplace at Coventry in southwest Fort Wayne in October. After that, a remodeled Scotts store in Waynedale on Bluffton Road is to reopen as a Kroger in December. Remodeling the store was already in Krogers plans, but the name change was just announced Friday.
Although some North Anthony neighbors are upset, consumers near the North Clinton store are welcoming the change. Shopper Maureen Shippy said revamping the store is great for professionals who work nearby.
Its a good central location that everyone can get to, said Shippy, who shopped at the store on Friday. You have a place you can run into during your lunch hour.