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Kroger gets commission’s OK to rezone


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A proposed Kroger Marketplace store has cleared its first hurdle to be built on the site of the vacant Dolly Madison Plant at 3060 National Road.

The Columbus City Plan Commission has approved recommending rezoning the property from industrial to commercial, to allow a grocery store to be built there.

Columbus City Council will consider the rezoning at its June 3 meeting.

 

Rezoning is an important hurdle for the project as grocery stores cannot locate on sites that are zoned industrial, according to Kroger’s rezoning request.

The grocer is planning a $20 million capital investment to purchase and develop the vacant plant site for the Marketplace store, said John Elliott, public affairs manager for the Kroger Co. Central Division. The Columbus development is targeted for construction to begin in early 2015.

“A Marketplace store will have 325 to 350 jobs, depending on the ratio of part-time to full-time employees,” Elliott said, compared with the store’s current 151 employees.

Mark Salma, of the Kroger Co. Central Division Real Estate office in Indianapolis, said the company is looking forward to continuing its very long history of serving the Columbus community. “Our interest is in maximizing what we are able to offer to our existing customers here,” Salma said.

The Kroger located at 3110 N. National Road will close when the new store opens. The current Kroger is about 56,000 square feet compared to the proposed Marketplace version, which is nearly 130,000 square feet.

Kroger has about 94 Marketplace stores nationally, including two in Fort Wayne.

Salma said Kroger conducted a marketing study of the area and has been negotiating with the current Dolly Madison property owners for about a year on the purchase.

As part of the purchase agreement, Kroger has 60 days to work through the approval process with the city and residents to come up with a satisfactory proposal for the Marketplace store.

Kroger is paying for a traffic impact study, which indicates about a 5 percent increase in volume during peak hours that are typically from 6 to 10 a.m. and

3 to 7 p.m. The city’s engineering office recommended the study to determine how much additional traffic will travel through the National Road and Central Avenue intersection near where the Marketplace will be built.

The company also has finished the first phase of an environmental site assessment and has completed sampling for a second phase.

Environmental testing is often done prior to the purchase of a large industrial or commercial property to determine if the site has environmental contamination.

A phase one assessment is a preliminary test and is often followed by a second phase of more intensive testing, including collecting and analyzing soil, groundwater, surface water and sediment.

“We don’t have reason to believe that there are any dramatic environmental issues coming our way,” Salma said.

Salma said the Marketplace will have all of the features of a traditional Kroger, including a pharmacy with drive-thru.

“In addition to the service departments and specialty offerings that a contemporary Kroger store would have, you’d see service departments that are quite a bit larger,” Salma said.

The Marketplace concept also features components not found in traditional stores, such as a cafe, Baby World, bed and bath, gourmet cheese, home fashion and toy departments, Elliott said.

Salma said the store will probably include a Fred Meyer Jewelers store, a concept incorporated after Kroger took over that West Coast supermarket chain in 1999.

Kroger does not own its current location, but will maintain control of the lease for a time.

Elliott said the existing store space will eventually revert to the owner, listed in county property records as Col-Ind Realty of Englewood, New Jersey.

The adjacent Kroger Fuel Center will remain at 2822 Central Ave., which the company owns, he said.

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